At the weekend my friend Dora and I attended the UK’s first ever Young Adult Literature Convention which took place as part of London’s Film & TV Comic Con at Earl’s Court (more details here). It was amazing and manic and painful all at the same time. But totally worth it.
Here’s my run-down of day one:
I had been a bad friend and hadn’t booked the advanced tickets in time so we had to go and queue to buy tickets on Saturday morning. We got there at about 9am, slightly hungover and very tired from a late-night outdoor Labyrinth screening the night before.
When we saw the queue we wanted to cry. It was so busy, and unorganised, and the closer we got to the door, the more people were trying to push in. The Rage set in. But we amused ourselves by admiring all of the costumes, and there was a nice man and his seven year old Spiderman son in front of us who were lovely.
There were also some guys promoting the new book by Joe Abercrombie, ( which is on my wishlist) by giving people rides on their Viking Wheelbarrow which was amusing.
After just over 2 1/2 hours, a lot of standing, and some sunburn later, we made it inside. And oh holy hell, it was not a good place to be with a hangover. People EVERYWHERE. Hot, sticky and no air. But luckily we had the forefront to ask the guy on box office where the YALC area was so we knew where to aim for – otherwise we may never have found it. It was worse than trying to get to the barrier at a festival.
The good news is that we made it, and there was a bit more breathing space that end. The bad news was that we’d missed the first talk were hoping to attend, The On-going Appeal of Dystopia. Instead we collected tickets for the other talks that were available and checked out all the book swag, and the publisher’s area including the Hot Key Books’ book swap which was a genius idea.
Going Graphic: From Novels to Graphic Novels
With Ian Edgington, Marcus Sedgwick, Emma Vieceli and Sarah McIntyre
The first talk we attended was one that we actually weren’t too bothered about initially, we just wanted to sit down to be honest but I’m so glad we went, it was great. Sarah McIntyre chaired the event in an awesome cosplay and discussed the process of adapting a novel into a graphic novel.
Marcus Sedgwick was the only one on the panel whose work I was familiar with, and I’d been wanting to get a hold of his graphic novel Dark Satanic Mills for ages, so it was lovely to hear him discuss his experience of writing it, compared to writing a novel.
Emma Vieceli, was full of enthusiasm for her work on illustrating The Vampire Academy graphic novels (which I really, really want now!) and talked about her new web-comic Brakes which she has written as well as illustrated.
It was really interesting to hear the panel talk about how to turn classics such as Pride and Prejudice and War and Peace into a graphic novel.
After the talk I wanted to buy a copy of Emma’s Vampire Academy but they didn’t have it, however both Dora and I bought one of her Manga Shakespeare books (we’re easily converted) and headed over to Emma’s signing table to get them signed. She was so lovely. I couldn’t resist telling her what a good job she’d done with Dimitri – Manga Dimitri is so hot, you guys.
We also headed to Marcus Sedgwick’s signing, and he was the nicest man ever. He chatted away to Dora about Poland (where she’s from) as he’d lived there for a while, and was planning on taking his partner there this summer. I got my favourite book by him signed, and he drew a coffin in it – he knows me so well already!
Bring me my Dragons: Writing Fantasy Today
With Frances Hardinge, Amy McCulloch, Jonathan Stroud and Ruth Warburton, chaired by Marc Aplin
We didn’t actually have tickets for this talk but we got back just as they were finishing the introductions and there were still some spare seats so we sat down. After that I’m not really sure what happened to be honest. There seemed to be a lot tangents going on, and definitely no talk of dragons. The early start and sunburn perhaps got the better of me.
Heroes of Horror
With Charlie Higson, Will Hill, Derek Landy and Darren Shan, chaired by Rosie Fletcher
Thankfully we managed to perk up for the final talk, because two of my favourite British writers were on the panel – Darren Shan and Derek Landy, and it was hilarious as well as interesting!
A lot of the discussion revolved around how much is too much in YA Horror. And the answer? You can get away with anything, apart from decapitating mothers! Both Landy and Shan also discussed the beauty of publishing long series and how you grow as a writer, alongside your characters, from book 1 to book 12.
- I knew Rainbow Rowell was popular but woah! Her signing queue was INSANE. They were everywhere, and most people had like four books to sign. Crazy!
- I really wanted to go and talk to Lucy Saxon who didn’t have anyone in her signing queue when we got there, but I couldn’t justify buying another book. I really enjoyed her book Take Back the Skies, despite the ending, and she looked awesome, but it’s not really the done thing is it…just walking up for a chat with nothing to get signed!?
- I was proper fangirling over the fact that Juliet Landau (Drusilla from Buffy) was there, and half way through the day they set up a place for Anthony Head (GILES) next to her but he was never there 😦 I was totally willing to spend £20 to talk to him. GILES!!
- While we were waiting for the first talk, Stan Lee walked past us to get to his Photo Shoot area. It was pretty cool.
Don’t worry if you missed YALC, look out for my post of Day 2, and I’ll also be posting a gallery and links to the best news coverage of the event – you’ll feel like you were there by the end of it.