For YALC this year, I thought I’d do something a little different from my standard book haul or uninteresting list. Behold, The YALC Diaries! Although I’m beginning this post after Friday’s festivities have come to an end, I’m planning to write this up as a play-by-play of my favourite book event. Here we go!
I was really nervous about YALC because I didn’t want it to be a repeat of 2017. Last year, I was so incredibly shy that I only spoke to the three people I knew well, all of whom were pals from Edinburgh rather than my little group of online bookish pals. I desperately wanted to meet people, but I wasn’t really active on Twitter at that point and just didn’t feel comfortable walking up to strangers and saying hi. This year, I wanted that to change — and it did!
My first stop on Thursday was to Forbidden Planet, which I had never been to before, for a pre-YALC book signing. I ended up purchasing Sweet Black Waves, a Tristan and Isolde retelling written by a medievalist (who is the coolest thing, by the way), I Am Traitor by Sif Sigmarsdóttir, an Icelandic author who was so incredibly kind and lovely, and The Loneliness of Distant Beings by Kate Ling. I ended up with signed copies of all three, two of which were personalised (I didn’t even realise Kate Ling was standing next to me at the time –oops!).
Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez
I Am Traitor by Sif Sigmarsdóttir
The Loneliness of Distant Beings by Kate Ling
The first day of YALC is my favourite. I scope out the publisher stalls, have a wander, (hopefully) see some people I know, and figure out what the plans for the day are. I find that you can spend the weeks before YALC planning what you’re going to do, but there’s no way to account for everything. Plus, publishers have stock of everything on the first day, so I always shop for the books I desperately want to buy. Friday is the best book buying day of YALC!
I spent the majority of the morning checking out the stands and the giveaways. Last year’s proof and ARC drops were insane, so it was really nice to hear that publishers were doing fairer book distribution via giveaways, raffles, lucky dips, and gift with purchase. I actually ended up landing my second most desired proof, Girls of Paper and Fire, from the Hodderscape stand. They were giving them away when you bought two books! I am so incredibly excited to have my paws on this beautiful book — I’ve been eyeing it ever since the cover and synopsis were revealed. My first proof was one of the best!
Next, after trying Gollancz’s lucky dip to win a copy of The Girl King (this was a theme throughout the day — I attempted five times and didn’t win!) with Jenn, I bumped into my friend Nikki, who revealed that the Sourcebooks stand was giving away copies of Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, a book I had no idea would be at YALC and is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. You can only imagine how fast I ran to I bolted and managed to get a copy with my purchase of Roar and Bruja Born.
The rest of the day was filled with proof drops (I managed to snag a copy of Damsel by Elana K. Arnold, which sounds amazing), signings, raffles (for Lifelik3 and Vox, neither of which I won so I bought copies), more book buying, and meeting or reuniting with amazing bloggers and bookish people! It was a really fantastic day. As I was leaving, it actually began raining! This may not sound too exciting but I swear I hadn’t seen rain in months at that point, despite living in the UK. We got about an hour of thunder, lightning, and pouring rain, all of which occurred as I was holed up in my sister’s flat admiring my books — bliss.
Vox by Christina Dalcher
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd
Hunted by Meghan Spooner
All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller
Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao
Damsel by Elena K. Arnold
Roar by Cora Carmack
Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Lifelik3 by Jay Kristoff
Saturday is notoriously the busiest day of YALC. It’s the day that the major signings take place and the day that most people are able to attend. Put those together and you have absolute madness. Fortunately I had Scottish Fiance with me, who got to experience YALC for the first time.
This was the day that I acquired the fewest books and got the most copies signed. The first queue I waited in was for Frances Hardinge, who is one of my favourite authors despite the fact that I’ve only read one of her books. We went to her panel and then she signed my beautiful illustrated copy of The Lie Tree (and drew a goose!). Next was some more giveaway attempts (all failed — curses!), followed by Samantha Shannon’s signing. I was lucky enough to get a good spot in line because the queue was cut off! See other people’s posts for a much better breakdown of the poor queuing system — it was so disappointing. Being in Samantha Shannon’s line did mean that I couldn’t try to queue for Tomi Adeyemi, which was a major disappointment, but I honestly think I wouldn’t have made it into her queue anyway. There were over 300 people trying and I was having lunch when it started. Priorities.
I did manage to get books signed by Kiran Millwood Hargreave, Tom Pollock, Lauren E. James, and Melinda Salisbury (points to Scottish Fiance for chasing her halfway across YALC when I froze and refused to go up to her).
The rest of the day was spent meeting friends like Julia from JuliasBookcase, Jess from ReadbyJess, Vanessa from VanessaKPhan, Helen from WatchingSparks, and many more! A few of us even got a photo together:
Most of the day was spent in queues, so there’s not much to report in terms of new books, but I did pick up five new books and got five signed.
After the Fire by Will Hill
The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
We See Everything by William Sutcliffe
I nearly missed the third day of YALC! There were public transit issues (which I discovered as I was on public transit, funny enough), road closures across London, and rude men (well, one rude man). I actually gave up on trying to go and tearfully went back to my sister’s place. Author Sister and Scottish Fiance sat me down, put a duvet on me, gave me a cup of tea, and let me calm down. After an hour or so, I mapped out a slightly complex route and hit the road. I ended up making it to YALC about two hours late, and I’m so glad I went. I love Friday’s at YALC, but Sunday was easily the best day this year.
I immediately hopped into Muhammad Khan’s signing queue — I Am Thunder was an eye-opening and wonderful book that I absolutely loved. I met him, had a really lovely chat (he remembers me from Twitter!) and got my copy signed. After that, I went to check out what books the publishers had left on their stands. I ended up at the Waterstones stand with Jenn and got some amazing book recommendations from Alwyn Hamilton and Laure Eve and had a fantastic chat with the two of them. I bought some books, then continued to wander around and bought some more. I hit up the Geeky Clean stand and bought one of their NPC Crates, which I absolutely love, as well as a lovely jewelry stand. I also managed to finally win a proof copy of Beneath the Citadel on my third attempt (!!).
After hanging out with pals for a little while longer, the day was coming to a close. I entered a Twitter contest for one last proof and then I went down to London Film and Comic Con. I had a wander to find an artist stand for my pal Asha. It turns out that their artwork was so amazing, I bought a print for myself and plan to get some more! I also bought a llama because I couldn’t resist this face:
As I was heading out, I got a notification that I won a copy of The Familiars in the Twitter contest! I got lost trying to get back up to YALC but made it back in the end and picked up my copy. I said goodbye to friends and headed to the train station (I ended up at the wrong bus stop and had to be directed to the right one by the marvelous Alwyn, she really saved the day). Scottish Fiance and I met up at the station and headed home, weighed down by exhaustion and over 40 books.
Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria
The Familiars by Stacey halls
Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Show Stopper by Hayley Barker
The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson
I’m so incredibly happy I got a chance to go to YALC all three days. Thank you to everyone I met and hung out with — you were all so welcoming and wonderful. It certainly wasn’t perfect and there’s a lot of room for improvement — I highly encourage you to reach out to Showmasters if you had any issues — however I still ended up having a really great time. I cannot wait until next year!
Bonus: Jason Momoa kept walking through YALC because the green room for LFCC is up with us (or he has a secret passion for YA literature. It really could be either). He was our mascot this year.