What might be the biggest YA event in the UK this year, the Young Adult Literature Convention, was held July 12th-13th 2014 at the London Film and Comic Con at Earl's Court. It was an early start to get there and work out where to go to get in, as it's been a good couple of years since I've been to LFCC so I had to remember the layout etc.
It was still amazing to look at all the cosplaying in the queue outside and eventually get in and check out the stalls and the Book Zone area. The venue itself was huge but absolutely heaving and baking hot too. I know the organisers of LFCC claim the air con was on all the time but I think I only felt it once in the signing area later on. It just couldn't cope with all those people and I think it was quite dangerous. Once I found the info desk and got my ticket for the talk I wanted to see, I had a look around at the booths and bumped into a few friendly faces along the way.
It will take me FOREVER to name all you lovely people that I spoke to but I'll name a few and the rest of you can know that you're still lovely but that I'm too lazy to list everyone. I saw one of my favourite publicist people, Nina Douglas, and had a nice chit-chat about all the goings-on before both filtering-off to other parts of the event. I got a lovely hug and catch-up with C.J. Skuse before her workshop in the morning. I love C.J. and it's rubbish that we don't live closer and can't catch-up more.
I was rather good when it came to the book stalls and only bought two books from the Hot Key stall (The Savages and Vivian versus the Apocalypse, since you asked) and if I have to point out one disappointment about the event, it was that there were so few publishers represented with a booth. There were three there, if I counted right, and I was shocked that some of my favourites, who had authors represented at the event, hadn't taken up the chance to have a table at the event with books for sale and a face to engage with about their future titles. Very surprising and such a shame.
|Stacey, Jim, Daphne, Caitlin and Me: Photo credit to Fluttering Butterflies|
Thankfully, for me, I met lots of blogging friends that I hadn't seen in yonks and we had a mini family reunion (and a gossip and moan) before the Superfans Unite talk started in the afternoon. It was a good laugh but as good to talk frankly with each other about blogging, books and the event. I think we all agreed that the event was good but needed work in places to make it great. I don't want to sound ungrateful for all the hard work the organisers had put in, but we bloggers have been campaigning for an event like this for YEARS and offered to help and give up time to make it happen as well as champion this event on the run up to the big day. We've put in a lot too and so, we have to be honest. We give honest book reviews and so honest event write-ups should be expected.
|Carly, Casey, Viv and Me. Fab bloggers and photo is taken by another fab blogger: Clover from Fluttering Butterflies|
I tried to see some of the LFCC stalls but the serious overcrowding meant I could barely get near a comic to even pick one up. I think the event was bigger than even the organisers expected and it overshadowed the Book Zone at times. The Stan Lee photo op area divided up the talk area from the rest of the Book Zone and made it hard to see and get to at times. Plus sound was an issue at times, so I've been told, in the workshop area.
|AWESOME cosplaying at LFCC|
The Superfans Unite talk was chaired by Andy Robb and featured on the panel Tim O'Roukre, Lucy Saxon and Rainbow Rowell and it was full to bursting. There were even people on the sidelines standing.
It was a fantastic panel because the audience was really engaged and involved in the questions and answers and it felt more like a giant chat with friends than a closed-off experience we were allowed to watch. Funny and non-stop entertainment.
I then went to the signing areas to get my autograph book signed by a few favourites that were there: C.J.Skuse, Andy Robb and Jonathan Stroud, who was an utter delight! So friendly and great to talk to that I hope to keep a look-out for future events with him on a panel; sure they'd be fabulous. I hung out with Andy and Darran S (Waterstones bookseller of wonder!) and we had a good old laugh as we pretended that Darran was the author and he even got his photo taken by an unsuspecting victim that assumed he was the author. Sorry, lady with camera!
|Darran fakes it until he makes it|
An extra treat was seeing Keris Stainton arrive and having a hug and little catch-up with her too. Keris is the best and you need her or an equivalent Keris-substitute in your life!!
Before checking out for a much needed food break, Andy introduced me to Jesse Owen who had arrived and I was so pleased because I've spoken with Jesse for ages online but never met face-to-face. He ALWAYS makes an effort to leave blog comments and may appear quiet in person but I'm pretty sure he's a party animal in secret!
Food break and a much needed GBK burger later and I was back at the Book Zone and managed to find myself in the Green Room to hang out with Sarah McIntyre (winner of best-dressed and most effort made, for sure) and Rainbow Rowell! I hadn't had a chance to get her autograph earlier as her signing queue was so huge and had to be cut off, but it was fab to get to chat later on.
|Credit to Sarah for the photo with Andy Robb, Jesse Owen, Sally Nicholls and me|
There was a get-together with the authors and publishing people afterwards and I was there for a little bit to chat with Paul Black (Walker) and Hannah Love (Faber&Faber) before the exhaustion of the day hit like a ton of bricks. Headache and total tiredness took over and I had to bow out of the party and the Fringe event that had been so kindly organised by Sophia Bennett and I hear it was a fab success in getting authors and bloggers together who didn't get to be involved with YALC for whatever reason and they raised lots of money for the Siobhan Dowd trust.
|Credit to Dave Cousins for this photo|
Overall, the event was good but I can see where there could be improvements to make it a truly great event that everyone will want to flock to year after year. Perhaps LFCC isn't the place for it and a bit of a clearer layout and organisation when it came to talks and signings. I know the whole event was hugely over-packed but it hampered YALC sometimes. An event that will hopefully grow over time and find its own place to call home.