Sunday was a much less queue filled affair, getting into Earl’s Court just after 9am, to wander. Once again, I was lucky enough to be able to drop my bag behind the W stand, thanks to the generosity of some very nice peoples. I wandered for a while, stopping to say hi to various people I know from Twitter but have never met in real life. As the first panel rolled round, I grabbed a seat right near the front, as I was pretty interested in hearing it – “How to get published” featuring authors Sally Green & Phil Earle, chaired by Penguin’s own Ben Horslen. It was a genuinely interesting, helpful, frank & honest discussion of the difficulties debuts face in publishing right now, and Phil’s drive and passion (coming from bookseller, through publishing, to being a published author himself) really did inspire me a great deal. Phil’s comment of how he finds adult books dull, compared to Children’s books was excellent – “I don’t wanna read someone else’s views on the world, I just want a really great story.”, and his admittance to reading some rather odd looking books on the tube as a 26 year old Children’s Bookseller rung OH so true with me.
The NEXT panel was one that blew me away. The innuendo laden laughriot that was “I’m too sexy for this book”, a talk about the presence of “sexy fun times” in books for teenagers, and why it’s considered so taboo, chaired by the wonderful BRAND NEW Queen of Teen James Dawson, and featuring the talents of Cat Clarke, Non Pratt & Beth Reekles. The talk was fun, even while touching on difficult or controversial subjects, the difficulties of dealing with religious Americans, prudish parents, and why violence is okay for kids, when sex isn’t. The amount of giggling by the audience and the panel, as well as out and out roaring laughter made it probably the most fun panel of the entire weekend, with highlights being Non’s discussion of “the Alternative Hole” and everyone cracking up at the idea of her “Hammering it Out” when it comes to writing love scenes. “Trickle Down Effect” was also pretty hilarious.
After that panel, I managed to get off to more signings, meeting the eternally wonderful, genuine and down to earth Mr Phil Earle, who I’ve met before, but never with a book to be signed. He also reminded me of the time I got drunk and left a proof of his latest book in a pub in London. I’m never ever living that down. He was very excited about a lot of upcoming titles that he’s been reading, and just so passionate. It was infectious!
I had chance to pledge allegiance to (and receive a hug from) Boy Queen James Dawson, and get my copy of Say Her Name signed, after a good chat about the brilliance of J-Horror and subtle, supernatural horror. The man also has a fantastic beard. I met Non Pratt as well, who I keep missing whenever she’s in the North, and got her to sign my book with the two most hilarious phrases of the entire weekend… (Sorry Non, I know you’re not proud).
After that, I wandered back over for the panel on Heroines in Teen Fiction, “Sisters doing it for themselves” with a brilliant panel of Tanya Byrne, Isobel Harrop, Julie Mayhew, Holly Smale & Sara Manning, discussing the trend for female lead characters being forced to be “strong” like men, or perfect and flawless. It was a very interesting talk that highlighted some of the best ladies in literature, and where we need to be looking next for allowing fictional girls to be rounded, realistic and flawed characters. As I dashed away from the panel, I was lucky enough to be last person to get a signing with the legendary Meg Rosoff, who when I apologised for being awkward, told me “it’s okay, because you’re cute” and I have no idea what to make of that. I’ll take it as an ego boosting win, I think. I also got to have a quick chat with Tanya Byrne about Buffy the Vampire Slayer love, and get my copy of the FANTASTIC thriller Follow Me Down signed, and caught the gracious Carnegie winner Sally Gardner, who was delighted to see my battered old Hot Key proof for Maggot Moon, and took my blog name too!
After all that, I chatted with more booksellers, publisher types, bloggers and even debut author of Solitaire Alice Oseman, until I finally had to admit defeat – 48 hours of standing, sitting in uncomfortable chairs, craning to see and hear talks, wandering round London with 16 books in a bag and a lack of sleep had taken its toll on my poor, fragile body, so I hopped an earlier train than I planned back up North, wrapped in happy memories and kind words from the hugely successful first celebration of all things YA. I’ve met some fantastic people, some lovely authors and made some great friends, as well as catching up with old ones. It was absolutely physically destroying, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
‘Mon the YALC 2015.