Event Recap: The First YALC

If you regularly read this blog or my Twitter feed, you may already know that this weekend I attended the first Young Adult Literature Convention(YALC), held in London and curated by Malorie Blackman. I had extremely high expectations for this event, with panels about the ongoing appeal of Dystopia, superfans and women in fiction; workshops being held about blogging, writing and publishing. Books for the signings were packed in my suitcase; my camera was charged for pictures; the events I wanted to go to had been decided on. I was ready for a smaller-scale BEA, with publishing stands, review copies and author panels. Having planned to go for the two days, it was really surprising to not want to return for the second, accepting defeat and sightseeing instead.

When I arrived on Saturday after a train journey from the hotel, my first sign of London Film and Comic Con(LFCC), where YALC was to be held, was the queues. There were thousands of people there waiting in multiple different lines - and that was unexpected. When we finally entered Earl's Court, I was overwhelmed with the size of the room; desperate to get to the Book Zone and start getting tickets for the different panels. Those attending LFCC were dressed up in cosplay, and I passed the likes of Elsa from Frozen and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, which was quite the contrast! It was already crowded - and it was only just past 9am! Hunting down the Book Zone proved to be a difficult task, and when I did find it, I was disappointed. Squeezed into a corner of a huge building, with just a few publisher stands, the stage right next to the places holding photo sessions with the likes of Stan Lee, this was YALC. That one corner.
The highlights? The fantastic freebies - I managed to find a Throne of Glass tote bag which has been on my wish list for months - along with the unpublished books that were available. I soon spotted Landline by Rainbow Rowell, Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan, The Illusionists by Laure Eve and The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan(which I bought to be signed by the author, who was wonderful!).

Andy Robb was an awesome chair person for the
Superfans Unite! Panel
By the time that I had collected panel tickets, Earl's Court was dangerously busy, and this only got worse as the seats for the Dystopia event(with favourites of mine) were filled with those having a rest from walking around the Con. They were not even panel ticket holders. Instead, I found myself standing to the side where I was struggling to hear most of what was being said, and those small bits I did catch were soon drowned out by the noise in the room. It was just so loud! This did improve slightly for the Superfans Unite! panel that afternoon with only those with tickets aloud in, and I thought Malorie Blackman had put together a really hilarious team, which was made up of Andy Robb, Lucy Saxon, Tim O'Rourke and Rainbow Rowell. By far, this was my favourite panel, and I loved the authors involved! What was more surreal was that I spent this panel sitting next to Rebecca from Rebecca Books and Lucy from Queen of Contempory, who I chatted to throughout the day.

This was my favourite part of the whole weekend: meeting those I have spent hours talking to online. I managed to spot Charli in the queue for Sarah Crossan's signing, a person I have chatted with for two years now, as she was one of the first people who commented on my blog when it began. I can't count how many times we hugged throughout the day! I also met up with Georgia from The Books Bandit, who was wearing a t-shirt with her blog logo on it and I spent the time admiring this, along with Debbie's Harry Potter earrings! Another highlight of the day was meeting Sarah Crossan, Rainbow Rowell and Natasha Ngan, who have all written books that I loved. Each of them spent time talking to me, asking me questions and signing my books - and they were all lovely! I had a picture taken with Sarah and then talked about my GCSEs with Natasha, whose new book I picked up this weekend(mentioned above).
Within YALC, it was clear how passionate people felt as they talked about YA, discussing everything relating to this genre. I think the amount of people it attracted, and the length of the queues for signings, was a surprise to organisers - as Rainbow Rowell's had to be stopped as the line got too big! Most were there because they loved YA, and apart from the heat and how hectic it was, the atmosphere whilst talking to bloggers and listening to authors talk about what they are fans of was fantastic. Book bloggers were clearly underestimated this weekend - and with a lot more publishers involved, YALC could easily fill it's own venue separate from Comic Con if it wanted to. If that did happen, I would be really tempted to try it out again!
So, in summary, I probably spent the majority of YALC hiding in the toilets from the crowds. It was claustrophobic, and it felt quite suffocating, due to the crowds from LFCC. The Stan Lee photography shoot taking place in the centre of Malorie Blackman's event showed how disorganised things were - as I missed most of the Dystopia panel because I couldn't see whether it had started. UK Publishers? Where were you? We need more of you involved; as I want this to continue, just to know that young people are reading(I saw Derek Landy's signing line!). Despite paying around £60 for four early bird tickets, the decision was made to not go back on Sunday, but instead be your typical London tourist for the day. I was really upset when I realised I didn't want to go back, as the promise of this weekend got me through my exams this year, and I wanted it to be better.
I applaud Malorie Blackman though for bringing such incredible authors to the convention and managing to get this started. Alone it would have worked, and the crowds were caused by LFCC. I'm championing its own venue!
So, what did you think of YALC?
Do you want to see another convention?
If you didn't go, will you be attending if there is an event next year?
Tell me in the comments!


  1. I have to admit, reading your recap makes me feel slightly better about my experience. I didn't have early bird tickets, so I arrived with my boyfriend around ten-thirty and had to line up to get inside. Luckily for us that wasn't too much of an issue since we were directed into the right line, but we had talked to many others who stood in the wrong line for hours and had to be redirected because it was all such a mess.

    Of course, once I got in though it was just SO overwhelming. It was near impossible to move since the crowd was so packed and there were queues blocking every which way inside the place. And then I DID get to the book area, and like you, I was slightly underwhelmed by it. I don't know what I was expecting, it just seemed to empty. I saw one or two bloggers, but the dystopian panel was starting and I didn't have tickets because they were gone before I even got in the building so my boyfriend and I went to see about getting an autograph from some the movie people there he wanted to meet, but that just found us in more queues (the wrong ones) and just in mobs of crowds. I don't know. We started walking back to the book section and I just told him I wanted to leave.

    So yeah, I had bought tickets for the whole weekend for both of us and in the end only ended up experiencing a hour of it on Saturday. I have felt like a total fail since, especially since everyone else seemed to have a lovely time. It just makes me mad at myself for not being able to handle it. So reading your post has helped me feel a little less alone in that respect. I do hope that if they do it again next year they do it as their own thing, because I think there is enough interest for them to pull it off and it would make it more manageable for everyone.

    1. Your experience sounds awful! So sorry that you felt the same way!

      I arrived pretty early and the queues were terrible then, so I can't quite imagine them by 10.30am! I have to agree about the organisation - nobody seemed to know what was going on!

      I've felt the same way! Everyone else seemed to love it, and I can't help but wonder whether my expectations were too high! Definitely championing YALC having it's own too - a lot of the problems come from LFCC!

      Thanks for the comment, Asti!

      -Sophie :)

  2. I suffer from severe Anxiety, and so things like crowds bother me quite a lot. However, I feel like in this case, because if I'd gone I'd know that this was something I'd really want to do that I wouldn't be to bothered by the crowds. It's a shame that this happened though.
    Providing that there is a YALC next year, I've been told I can go! So I can't wait for that :)

    1. Crowds are the bane of my existence but, I definitely tried to deal with them since I wanted YALC to be great.

      I think it will be much better next year if it happens, though! I'm just seeing this year as a trial run of sorts!

      Hopefully, I'll get to meet you!

      -Sophie :)

  3. It's so annoying that you didn't enjoy it as much as you should have... :( At least there were still bits that you enjoyed, like meeting authors and bloggers!! I really hope they make it better next year, if it happens, as I would really like to go! A separate event is the best idea, I think..! :) great post!!

    Rita xx


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Sophie Louise