I woke up feeling a million dollars on the Sunday morning - I was so knackered I can't remember the last time I slept so well. Me and Lynsey mooched on down to the hotel's restaurant for breakfast (hellooooo bacon and hash browns) and then nipped across to Earls Court on the tube, raring to go.
I'd been invited to the YALC blogger event, which meant we got early access to the convention centre and got waved in ahead of the huge queue - which felt pretty awesome, I have to admit. Earls Court was so lovely and quiet at that time of day and we took advantage of the lack of crowds and did some celebrity spotting (HI, HODOR!) before the blogger breakfast started.
The breakfast itself was great fun, we got to hear from lovely publicists and James Dawson, Non Pratt, Holly Black and Matt Haig all spoke to us about their most recent books. After the event we were all given a brilliant goodie bag and got the chance to have a chat with the authors, which was great fun!
Sunday was definitely much more chilled than Saturday, and I got to meet up with even more of my blogger friends, which was my highlight! We live all over the country and it's not often we get to meet up in such a big group, so I had a brilliant time catching up with all my lovely bookish friends - I won't name names as I'll only forget and offend someone, but you all know who you are and you made my weekend absolutely top notch. Much love!
I caught Phil Earle, Sally Green and Ben Horslen's panel in the morning, which was excellent and gave tonnes of solid advice about getting your novel published. I left the panel desperate to get home and carry on rewriting my book!
After the panel most of my pals were ready for the I'm too Sexy for this Book talk - which might have been the most popular of the weekend! While they were busy with that I decided to venture out solo to enjoy the rest of what LFCC had to offer, as I'd spent most of the previous day in the Book Zone. I had a look at some of the stalls and picked up some Game of Throne badges and American sweets to take home (Nerds and Laffy Taffy, obviously). The stalls were pretty cool but, unfortunately, because of the crowds it was impossible to really stop and look.
After doing a lap of the convention centre and spotting some amazing cosplay I decided to have a little breather outside to cool down, as it was blinking hot. Aaaand that's where it all went wrong... When it came to getting back inside it was completely unorganised and there were loads of different queues at different doors, with people getting stressed out that they couldn't get back in, even though we all had our hands stamped. Things started to get a bit...tense, and nobody seemed to have any idea what was going on or where we were meant to go, so I took it was a sign to head back to Paddington and get a slightly earlier train home.
I'm a bit sad I didn't get to go back inside to catch my last panel and say goodbye to everybody but the atmosphere in the re-entry (or lack of re-entry) queue was definitely getting a bit irate so I didn't want to ruin a good weekend with LFCC drama!
Before I go into my feedback, here are my favourite pictures from day two:
|Me and Michelle // GEORGE A ROMERO // Me and Faye // Me and Sophie // Me and Jenny // Sally Green, Ben Horslen and Phil Earl's brilliant panel // A WILD HODOR APPEARED|
I had a brilliant time at YALC and it was fantastic to be present for the UK's first YA convention. However, there are definitely a few ways YALC could be improved in future and we were all asked for our honest feedback, so here it is:
- I really don't feel as though LFCC is the right place for YALC. YALC was overshadowed by the convention and the crowds made it difficult to get the most out of the event. It was impossible to just stop and enjoy anything without being bumped into, shoved or moved along by the huge crowds.
- I was disappointed that barely any publishers had stalls at YALC - come on, guys! It was the perfect place to showcase books and authors and those that were there always had a huge crowd, so it'd be nice to see everybody representing what they have to offer.
- The panels on offer were great but the way they were run wasn't quite as good. The sound issues meant you could only hear if you were in the first few rows and as anybody could wander up and watch the talks it meant people with tickets ended up not being able to get seats. I think for the panels to really work they needed to be in a separate room, or in a space further away from the main crowds, as the background noise was a big problem.
- I was really keen to go to a few of the workshops but the spaces were so limited (25 or 30 spaces per workshop and 70,000 tickets sold for LFCC - the odds were definitely *not* in our favour) I didn't manage to get to any of the five I signed up for, which was a shame as they looked brilliant!
That's it, really. YALC was a fantastic idea and everybody involved did a brilliant job, I just think the venue isn't right, going forward. 99% of the problems we encountered were to do with the crowds for LFCC but I understand why YALC was held there for the first year - it proved that people ARE interested in YA and related events will attract huge crowds! Hopefully the popularity this year means YALC can have its own dedicated venue next year, which would pretty much be perfection.