It was my third year at YALC this year, and my second year doing the full weekend. I always have such a fun time with my friends, being surrounded by books and meeting fab authors. I wanted to write an honest post about my YALC experience this year which was wonderful fun with just a couple of issues.
Me and Sarah travelled down to London and stayed with a few of our fave bookish pals. One of these was Charlotte over at Wonderfully Bookish. She’s one of my favourite people and I lived with her for two years at university so I miss her tons when I don’t see her as often now! We also went with one of our best friend’s, Lois, from LoisReadsBooks who is an excitable peach of a human being. To complete our little group this year was Fi who you may know as the fab pin designer, Felfira Moon Designs! I hadn’t spent a long amount of time with Fi prior to the trip and it was a great way to get to know her better and have fun.
We met some absolutely brilliant people this year – mainly in the queues! I always love how friendly people are in signing queues and how up for chatting a lot of people are. I’m a very nervous person but also very talkative – my nerves make me chat a LOT to new people (apologies to anyone I talked the socks up and down of!) Though meeting new people scares me a little it’s also one of my ultimate favourite things to do. Speaking of which, I finally got to meet Lily from Lily Eleanor Reads! She is a truly lovely and funny human and we will definitely all hang out together soon.
We also met some absolute babes in many of the workshops we attended. Big thanks to everyone in those for being so lovely! The workshops I went to this year were genuinely lovely and I’m definitely going to head to more next year. I particularly loved the fairly hands on, practical ones, making something or writing something. I think they offer something different to the rest of YALC and they lend themselves to chatting to new people. Even when I attended some by myself, I always felt really welcome whoever I sat with.
I was able to make it to Akemi Dawn Bowman’s anxiety bracelet workshop, Alexandra Sheppard’s Design a Deity one and the PROUD workshop. I was the last into Akemi’s workshop – I legitimately jogged over after Alice Oseman’s signing! I was super happy to make it in as it sounded like such a calm, chilled time and it was! Akemi told us what she uses hers for and how it helps and then we all made our own. I made myself a bracelet and Sarah once since she couldn’t make it into the workshop. I would have loved to make one for all my pals but I didn’t have enough time and didn’t want to steal all the beads! Though it wasn’t a workshop, we also made friendship bracelets the next day with Rose Edwards, inspired by her novel, The Harm Tree. Rose is such a friendly person and we had an adorable little table where a few of us made our bracelets.
Alexandra’s workshop was also a lot of fun – me and Sarah went to this together. We discussed what gods/goddesses we may have in contemporary society. Ideas ranged from memes to equality – the best things in life. Pretty sure our table spent half the workshop quoting vines and I have zero regrets!
The PROUD workshop was wonderful – Juno Dawson introduced it, Dean Atta read his poem and Moïra Fowley-Doyle and Simon James Green read an excerpt from each of their short stories. Charlie from Stripes Publishing also spoke a little and it was a super comfortable, fun, adorable little workshop. We designed alternative covers for the PROUD anthology. This was so people who may not be out and want to walk around with such a bold, LGBTQ+ book cover or have it in their house like that could create something different. I want to clarify here that Stripes are super proud (pun not intended) of the cover and are happy it is so bold and full of love! It’s just not everyone can be out and proud for varied reasons. If you wanted to make it even more gay you could! I designed mine (I use ‘design’ loosely – it is very much not a work of art) with the colours of the bi flag since I’m bisexual.
I do have some little negative experiences from YALC this year that I haven’t really had the other times I’ve been. Though 90 percent of the bloggers/attendees were lovely there were the 10 percent that were not. I found some people to be rude and honestly quite nasty at points. This was particularly in queues for proof copies or in the queue to get in or get virtual queue tickets.
People shoved people out of the way to get in the queue for proofs. I accidentally got in the wrong bit of the queue for a virtual queue ticket (the queues for that were not clear and to be honest weren’t well planned out or managed) and I had a group of women talk to me like I was dirt. I was unaware I’d jumped the queue and apologised and asked if they knew where the end was to which they ignored me. I personally just think this is pretty horrible – I understand I was in the wrong part of the queue but they could have at least been friendly about it and helped me out when I asked a question rather than being mean.
I also know that people took multiple proofs of the same book and then berated others for doing the exact same thing – clearly people are wanting to trade them online. The queues for proofs were horrible. You had to run to get an Infinity Son proof on the first two days – not fair at all for anyone who may have a disability or is unable to make their way upstairs fast. People were honestly being pretty mean in those queues too and it brought out the worst in some bloggers. Truly I don’t understand this whole culture with proofs. I love getting a proof of a book I really want to read and I managed to get an Infinity Son proof but if I don’t get them then it’s cool. They’re also worthless in terms of money so when people act like they own gold bars and actually it’s just a well known author proof, it doesn’t make any sense. If getting a proof is more important to you than having decent manners, you need to sort out your priorities.
Halfway through YALC, I did wonder what it would be like if nowhere gave away proofs there. Honestly, I’d love that to happen next year – imagine how chill it would be! Yes, I know I managed to get a few proofs but I know I would have had the same amount of fun even if I didn’t get them. It’s not the main reason most people go to YALC and if it is, that’s a lot of money and effort to go somewhere just for that.
However, let’s end this on a positive and talk about the wonderful authors! I met a whole bunch of fantastic authors, some for the first time, some I had met before. I managed to meet and chat to all the authors I mentioned earlier when I was talking about workshops plus Natasha Ngan, Melinda Salisbury, Temi Oh, Emma Smith-Barton, Sara Jafari, Niellah Arboine, Kate Mallinder, Yasmin Rahman, Lisa Heathfield, Patrice Lawrence, Sarah Ann Juckes and Jess Vallance! They were all truly lovely people and I had some great chats with many of them.
All in all, I had a great time at YALC and I will be going again next year with some friends again. How did you find YALC 2019? Let me know!