(YALC: Young Adult Literature Conference)
So, this post is going to be a little different to what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was just going to be a ‘Here’s How Great YALC Was…’ kinda thing. Don’t get me wrong, it totally was! But as I was walking back from Olympia to my hotel for the last time, I was thinking back on something one of the authors said whilst signing my copy of her book totally took me off on a tangent.
The book was Read Me Like a Book and the author, Liz Kessler.
Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling – that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her . . .
Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way – not Miss Murray, her English teacher?
As she was signing the book, she commented I was possibly the first bloke who had got a book signed. Now whether that was just over the weekend or a longer period of time, who knows, but it did get me thinking about why the vast majority of books I read, could be classified as YA, and the ‘types’ of those books
As my header states, I’ve been blogging about books since 2008 (and blogging in general since about 2004) and while I certainly read the likes of Harry Potter, and His Dark Materials, YA books certainly didn’t form the percentage that it does now.
In fact, if you were able to show the me of eight or nine years ago my reading list for this year, I’d have probably just looked at you oddly and asked if you had got the right person, there would be too much romance-nonsence in it for him, for a start.
Let’s take a look at the simplest reasons why first. The things I’ve always looked for and enjoyed the most in my books, YA or not, is that I like great characters and to be told a great story. Get these two things right then stuff like, writing styles, plot intricacies etc. can all quite happily take a back seat. Thankfully those two things are something that so-called young-adult books generally have in abundance. (This is also why my non-ya reading is mostly fantasy or graphic novel based, rather than literary.)
But, one of the strongest reasons, quite simply is this blog, when I first started finding the book blogging community, way back when, it was YA bloggers (or people that read a good mix) that I found first. Then when I was lucky enough to start receiving review copies, it was YA publishers and publicists that sent them, (and boy did I get some that were outside of my comfort zone! Stuff I would never normally have considered reading.)
But through a combination of having committed myself to reading them (I feel a lot less guilty about not getting to books these days), and trusting the thoughts of those I’d found in the community, I read them, and once again the great characters, & story thing came into play, just because it was not a story I would have picked up myself, didn’t mean that I didn’t find stuff to really like in the books, of course I did. In fact more and more, the selection of books I did choose to read started to change.
Flash forward those eight years, to Liz signing my copy of Read Me Like a Book, and yeah, I don’t suppose I am part of the expected demographic of either YA or even some of the types of YA I read, but who cares, some of the best books I’ve read, have been in the last few years and ones I would not have picked up if it wasn’t for being involved in the YA blogging world.
So, I can’t wait to get started on some of the rather large stack of books of all kinds I’ve acquired over the few days, knowing I’m going to meet some great characters.
Still can’t stand love triangles though!
Which is all a long-winded way of saying how much I enjoyed my experience of YALC. I may not have talked to that many people, but it was just a delight to around so many people that loved books, and I wish that this sort of thing was around years ago or the teenage me could use a time-turner and jump forwards to now, because I’d have loved it even more.
Not to sound like a sycophant, but I’ve always found the YA authors to be some of the nicest, most approachable of sorts; even if you don’t go up to them yourselves, it all feeds into your overall experience of the conference, especially when they wander around, geek out, fanboy/girl and queue up for autographs as well.
Contrast that with the main LFCC, which don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed wandering around as well, (and spent far too much money in the trader zone!) and has a different raison de’etre. But with its charges for autographs (which I guess goes a long way to their appearance fees) and occasional signs for ‘no posed photographs it just didn’t feel as easy to walk up to someone as YALC did. Although to be fair, I didn’t spend as much time on the LFCC floors.
I managed to get a whole bunch of books signed which was great. I’d love to say I took most of them down with me, but as my wallet will attest, that was not the case! 😉 I’ll post a haul photo at the end of this post.
The main highlight though was panels, they were all really interesting, with some great discussions from the authors taking part.
The Mental Health in YA Panel
The Horror Panel. (I promise Will Hill was NOT asleep!)
The LGBT In YA Panel
And the highlight panel by a wide margin was the ‘Bringing Sexy Back’ one, which dealt with the issue in a way that was both frank and hilarious. Quite how the panel managed to keep things semi-serious with James Dawson’s get up, is anybodies guess!
To End With A Couple of Links About Others Experience of YALC:
- SerendipityViv: My Top Ten Favourite Things About YALC
- Mile Long Bookshelf: Event Report
- HeatherReviews: #YALC Round Up
(A couple of these were bought from a couple of bookshops I visited whilst down in London anyway.)