Last weekend was the long awaited NYALitFest in Preston! Last year was such a wonderful event, and to top off all the incredible authors and all the fun that was had, the event is completely free! I had even more fun if possible than last year, with more of my friends and a much bigger event.
The event is hosted by the UCLan Preston University and is to support their publishing degree and MA’s. The course itself is incredibly successful and a wonderful course to be apart of. However, they also create wonderful events like NYALitFest!
NYALitFest started in 2018 and was a pretty small event with some pretty big authors, which included signings, ARC tables, and panels with your favourite authors. I absolutely loved last years event, and for a completely free event, i didn’t know how much better it could be. Apparently, it got a lot better. This year, the event was bigger, more organised and had plenty more bookish excitement around such as even more independent sellers and publishers! All these aspects made it so much fun and a really successful event!
There weren’t many things that i had planned for my day honestly. I wanted to spend time with my friends, chill out and generally have a good time with books. So i chose to make it as chilled as possible and not plan my day fully. There were a few panels that i wanted to attend and i took a few books to get signed, but other than that, my plans were zero!
One exciting thing that happened right at the start of the day was that myself and Sophie introduced the YA Thrillers panel with M.A. Bennett and Will Hill! We were so excited to be asked to get involved with one of these events, and to speak at a panel was excellent! It was a lot of fun to introduce two YA legends in the Thriller genre, however, we were both pretty nervous! One of my goals this year was to get more involved with events and put myself out there a little more in the bookish community, and i feel like i started off pretty well with this.
We stayed in the talk for a little while before leaving to get ready for the next panel and the excitement that would bring. During the day, i personally sat in two of the panels. The Inclusiveness in YA panel with Bali Rai, A.J. Hartly, Mel Darbon and Non Pratt was one that i sat through, which was absolutely wonderful. It was also wonderful to hear from Mel Darbon who could discuss the disability aspect of exclusivity, instead of the usual sexuality and race. They talked a lot about how my diversity is acceptable in books and where the limit is on what they discuss. It was really interesting and the authors on the panel worked incredibly well together.
We also all stayed for the Mental Health in YA panel at the end of the day, featuring Alice Broadway, Akemi Dawn Bowman, Sara Barnard and Alexandra Shepard, with Lisa Williamson chairing. This panel was the one i was most excited for the whole day. Surprisingly, there was so much great advice from the panellists about self care and how they self care while writing and releasing books. Also Lisa was an exceptional chair as always, i find her incredibly easy to connect with the audience and the panellists, and she asks such informative questions. This without a doubt was a highlight of my day! Sophie will have some blog posts up about the specific panels very soon!
I also spent a lot of time in signing queues during NYALitFest, however managed to really limit myself with the books that i took. I ended up getting books signed by Alice Broadway, Alexandra Shepard, Bali Rai and Melinda Sailsbury and also finished my signed collections of Akemi Dawn Bowman, Sara Barnard and Katherine Webber off! It was so much fun seeing authors that i’ve met before. I had a really good chat with Mel and Akemi and this was definitely another highlight of the day. It’s one of the lovely pay-offs as a book blogger when you make great connections with authors you love that last over years!
On top of this, i spent some time acquiring new books, shamefully. I wanted to walk away with barely any, that didn’t really work at all, but i’m trying not to think about that. I picked up a couple of ARC’s that were available from publishing stalls, and wonderful publishers that have sent books over for the event, but also spent quite a bit on other stalls and in the Waterstones. I’m pleased with what i picked up, but i’m very much on a book buying ban now!
There were so much more fun aspects to this years event! The publisher and independent craft stalls around were excellent this year, including one of my best friends selling her pins (enjoy the photo of me being a proud egg manning her excellent stall for 5 minutes)! This really improved it for me and made things a lot more enjoyable!
It was so lovely to have so many people i know around me and spend so much time with my wonderful friends that i’ve made through these events! I even managed to meet some people that i know through Twitter and Instagram. It was nice to mingle a little bit more and get to know so many more people!
I already cannot wait for the event next year, and NYALitFest has definitely made me more excited for YALC to happen in just a few months time. I want to say a massive thank you to the team that helped make NYALitFest possible, and obviously Hazel who makes it all happen. It’s such a wonderfully arranged event and you can see all the hard work that is going in to it now that they’ve had a year to settle in.