I had such an amazing time at YALC, it was my first time going and I went with my best friend Hannah (She has a blog and youtube). It ran from the 28th-30th July, and we had three day passes, and I am now absolutely exhausted after it!
My train left my hometown at 7:08am, so needless to say it was an early start for me (5:30 was when my alarm went off!). I got to Olympia, where YALC was held, for about 9:15 though, so that wasn’t too bad. Hannah arrived not long after and we headed in straight away to get our wristbands. Because we were in quite early we got a YALC tote bag with various samplers and goodies in, which we got signed by the authors across the weekend. We both also bought lanyards to pin the badges that we had on, as most stands were giving away free badges!
We started off the signings with Hannah Witton, and proceeded to get so many signatures that I honestly can’t remember the order. A highlight was being Katherine Webber’s first YALC signing as I absolutely adored her book Wing Jones (I’d highly, highly recommend it!).
We also went for a wander around all of the stalls, looking at all of the free samplers and merch they were giving out. From the Fairyloot stall I got a candle (and a cushion cover on the Saturday). There were all sorts of competitions and things going on to get various arcs, one of which I won – I had to put a picture on twitter using a hashtag and they picked a winner at the end of the day (I won an arc of Things a Bright Girl Can Do).
We stayed in an airbnb for the first night, which was basic but had everything we needed and we just headed back to get an early night as we were both exhausted!
We headed out pretty early and got to YALC not long after it had opened, after stopping for breakfast on our walk there. It was easier to get in this time as we already had our wristbands, and we went straight in, wandering around the stalls (and Waterstones), and planning who to meet.
Hannah and I popped down to Comic-con for a little while, though I was very out of my depth as I have little interest in pretty much everything comic-con focuses on! It was still great to see however, especially seeing the effort that went into people’s cosplay. Would I go just for comic-con? No. Am I glad I have been? Yes.
We also met Sanne from the channel booksandquills (which I adore) and I’m quite proud I approached her, as I was too scared to approach other youtubers! She seemed so friendly (and indeed turned out to be once we spoke to her!) which made me more comfortable, and I’m so so glad we said hi as she was so lovely and had a picture with us.
V. E. Schwab and Laini Taylor were both signing on this day, and as Hannah was participating in a competition I met them to get our books signed. Later that day, they were part of a panel called ‘Books That Made Me’, which was really great to listen to (especially listening to V. E. Schwab basically fangirling over and recounting her stories of meeting Neil Gaiman).
Straight after the panel, Non Pratt shaved her head for charity, which was hilarious to watch as everyone was having a laugh. Not only that, but Benedict Cumberbatch walked in part way through and looked very bemused!
I started off the sunday alone at YALC as Hannah was at a baking event as part of her prize for the mentioned competition. The previous night we’d stayed in a fancy hotel courtesy of MyKindaBook (as part of Hannah’s prize) and it was gorgeous!
I went to a lot of signings in the morning, and generally wandered around for a bit, somehow managing to get myself an arc of The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven which I desperately wanted and had been trying to get all weekend. (I’ve started it already and it’s so so fab).
I got Countless signed by Karen Gregory, which was a book I adored and really hoped to get signed, and I also got a load signed by Non Pratt (two for Hannah and three for me – I’d got Truth or Dare signed on the Friday), and honestly she was one of the nicest people I think I have ever met. She was super chatty, which was lovely as I was on my own and can be a bit shy, and just generally seemed to be a lovely person (although pretty much everyone there seemed to be!).
Hannah joined me at around 1:30 ish (honestly I can’t really remember) – just after I’d met Sarah Crossan and gushed about how much I love her writing (oops) – bearing brownies, so we grabbed some drinks, nachos, and seats and took a moment from the crowds. We went to a few more signings; Moira Fowley-Doyle (who was so lovely – again), and Patrick Ness, who was the big name of the Sunday. We were lucky as they were handing out tickets with numbers on and we were fairly early on in the queue, and I know it got very long just in the short while we were watching them give them out. Patrick Ness was great, and as we finished up at YALC so early we went back down to comic-con to have a better look around. I still felt like a fish out of water, but it was quieter so much, much nicer to wander around and take it all in!
YALC was genuinely such an amazing experience and I’m so glad I went. I’m also very glad I took a large suitcase that was very empty on my way down because I gained / bought so many books whilst there (oops). It was fantastic to meet so many authors of books that I’d loved, and the community feel was strong, I noticed how everyone was comfortable and happy, which was so so good.
Hannah and I are already hoping to go next year (though for two or three days depends on whether I manage to get an internship or not!), and we’ve definitely learned a lot about what to do, how to organise it etc. Whether I could have managed a fourth day, I highly doubt, as I was absolutely exhausted – I got home at nearly 10pm on the Sunday night. It’s extremely intense for the three days, but so worth it.
You can view my book haul from YALC over on my Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/I6X_QfZ_hUU