Five years of YALC 2018: The Night Before and Day One

I travelled down to London on Thursday afternoon to attend the YALC, which I have been looking forward to all. year. I have been on a countdown ever since my ticket was purchased in February and the accommodation booked. I hope you’re all ready for some majorly long posts (I’m really sorry in advance..) about YALC 2018. I wasn’t planning on these posts being as long as they are, but I also wanted to make sure I wrote out as much as possible so that I don’t forget anything about this years convention.

(Note: This post is quite long so if you just want to see what I got at YALC on day one, scroll down to the bottom!)

Before I get into everything, I headed down to London on Thursday afternoon after a morning at work that would just not pass by quick enough. I stayed in an Airbnb with Christine which was in a really great location. I’m hoping that it’s still available next year for us to stop at!

The Night Before

I had work on Thursday morning before I travelled down. I had a connection at Birmingham which took me into London Euston. I met Christine, Lauren and Amy at Euston station and then we caught the tube before we split off to find our accommodation. Christine and I wandered over to the convention centre on Thursday as they were allowing people to collect their wristbands the day before.

Before YALC kicked off on Friday, I was lucky enough to be invited to Penguin’s Secret Society event (I can’t believe I can now actually say that the publisher Penguin invited me (me?!) to a party) on Thursday evening which had four authors in attendance. These were Melissa Albert (The Hazel Wood), Elizabeth Klehfoth (All These Beautiful Strangers), Sally Green (The Smoke Thieves) and Emily Barr (The Truth and Lies of Ella Black). The event featured some themed cocktails to do with the authors new books and a few snacks. There was also a polaroid picture area which myself, Christine, Amy and Lauren had our pictures taken at. We were able to pick up the new books to get signed and there were a few goodies dotted around. I was able to collect all of the cards for The Smoke Thieves which made my very happy as I now have the complete collection. It was great to hang out with other bookworms too.

I had an absolutely wonderful time at this event, albeit it being a little bit too hot due to no air con at the venue but other than that, I really enjoyed getting my book on before YALC really started and I am so grateful to the people at Penguin for inviting me. Following the event, the four of us headed off to Wagamama, which happened to be my first time trying their food and I really enjoyed it. It was nice to be able to relax and cool down ready for the busy weekend ahead.

Day One

Day One of YALC kicked off with a bang and seemed a lot busier than it was last year. In fact, this years Friday attendance seemed more like YALC 2017’s Saturday attendance. I know that YALC is getting bigger every year but as I only went last year, I wasn’t quite prepared for how much it had grown in just a year.

We got to the queue at about 9:15/9:30 after we’d grabbed our lunch from the Tesco express opposite the centre. The queue wasn’t that long when we got there which was surprising. We thought there may be a separate queue for people who had picked up their tickets the day before but there wasn’t so it almost seemed pointless to pick up our badges on Thursday.

The floor lay out hadn’t changed that much this year in terms of where the main things were. There were some booths that were in relatively the same place with Penguin’s and Waterstones booths being in the exact same spot as they were last year. The floor had been opened up more though and so the convention space was bigger. The largest publishers were mostly clumped together in one area with smaller publishers being popped into the new area. I did already know the layout prior to the event as I had seen the map but it was still worth the walk round the floor that we did straight away to get our bearings.

I didn’t have that much to do on Friday. There was one panel that I was interested in and I had four signings that I wanted to go to. The main things for me were the books I wanted to snag. Prior to YALC, I had gone through the very helpful posts that Jenn, Lydia and Lizzie had constructed which detailed all of the books and swag that would be available over the weekend. This really helped me to plan what I was going to be doing with my days. I used all of this information by putting it into my phone notes under a schedule for each day. Having schedules on my phone notes was so useful for the weekend – I’m already planning a post for next year based on YALC organisation.

I had three signings at 2pm, one at 3pm and none in the morning so I really used that time to walk the floor multiple times and to scoop up goodies and ARCS. The first thing we did after we wandered the floor, picking up a sampler of Enchantee along the way, was head to the Atom Books booth to grab a raffle ticket for a copy of Sisters of the Winter Wood. We then got in line for Gollancz to try to win a copy of The Girl King. This was one of the books I wanted to grab over the weekend and Friday was the only chance to try and win it. To get a copy, you had to pick a red petal out of a load of white ones. Obviously I had no luck because this is me.

After my failed attempt, I then headed to the Harper booth as they were giving out copies of Damsel. I’d seen Shrina from Harper talking about this one and it sounded like an exciting read so I thought I’d go for a copy. The system with Harper was that you got there a little before the designated time and then you queued. It was first come, first served and we weren’t queuing long. I didn’t think this was a bad system and with enough warning this year, people knew what time to get to the booth for. I also managed to pick up a sampler of A Good Girl’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy.

We then headed back round and circled the floor a few times. We saw Naz, who was helping man the Scholastic booth and I grabbed a sampler from there of A Storm of Ice and Stars which was nice as last year I won a copy of the first book.

I then headed back to the Gollancz booth a few times to try my luck on winning The Girl King and it just wasn’t happening, however later on Kirsty came to my aid to try and grab me a copy. She had won her own copy earlier in the day. I unluckily pulled out a white petal again but Kirsty pulled out a red petal for the second time and so I finally got a copy! I proceeded to jump up and down and hug Kirsty as I was so grateful to get my hands on the gorgeous proof!

I then headed to my signings with Sally Nicholls who signed my copy of Things a Bright Girl Can Do, Matt Killeen who is the author is Orphan Monster Spy and the author of one of my favourite contemporaries ever, Chloe Seager, author of Editing Emma and Friendship Fails of Emma Nash.

Meeting Chloe after almost a year since I first read Editing Emma and promptly bombarded Chloe with my tweets of praise was a treat. She is so lovely and she even recognised me which makes that my first author recognition moment! She even posted me on her Instagram and I was screaming inside. We talked and I told her how much I loved Editing Emma and how it made me laugh out loud in so many places. I now can’t wait to read Friendship Fails of Emma Nash!

I whizzed round those signings quickly as I had another at 3pm with Louise O’Neill, author of The Surface Breaks. I already had a signed copy but I wanted to get it personalised.

After we were done at YALC, myself and Lauren had organised a meet up on Twitter for the Friday evening. The plan was to meet outside the Cursed Child theatre and then head over to Foyle’s bookshop, Waterstones Piccadilly and for some food. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect regarding the turn out as it ended up tipping it down with rain after it had been nice weather all day. Typical! We had to very quickly move our meeting location to inside Foyle’s bookshop which worked out well. There were 11 of us in total that came to the meet up and we spent the evening talking about books before heading from Foyle’s to Pizza Hut. I loooove Pizza Hut and it was nice to go back as we went there for food at my first YALC.

After that, it was getting late and Christine and I wanted to head back to organise ourselves for Saturday so we skipped out on Waterstones to head back to our Airbnb where I took a look at my loot for the day and prepared my Saturday books for day two of YALC.

My Friday was very successful and I’m super happy that I was able to pick up pretty much everything that I wanted. I had a wonderful time being back in the company of so many readers and I’m glad i had the chance to meet the author of one of my favourite contemporary books.

Too Long, Didn’t read? Here’s the run down…

Authors met:

  • Chloe Seager
  • Sally Nicholls
  • Matt Killeen
  • Louise O’Neill

Books bought:

  • Friendship Fails of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager
  • Replica by Lauren Oliver
  • Golden Son by Pierce Brown

ARCs acquired:

  • Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
  • The Girl King by Mimi You
  • Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

So that’s my YALC 2018 first day post! Keep an eye out for YALC Day Two as I’ll be posting that one shortly!

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