Monday, 20 July 2015

Five things I missed at YALC

If you're anything like me, this past weekend you will have been hunched in front of your laptop, madly refreshing Twitter to get some insider knowledge of all that was going on at YALC.
You don't know what YALC is? How! It's only the biggest Young Adult Literature Convention held in the UK, and this is the second year it's occurred. It was launched last year by Malorie Blackman and with this second year it has just gotten bigger. 
However, I still couldn't attend, which makes me feel lots of sadness. But for all of you other YA fans who couldn't attend, I thought I'd compile a list of the five most exciting things that happened at YALC! 

(Most of these goings on have been found through the YALC Twitter, but I'll credit and link original posters in captions)

5) Diversity being celebrated

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Posted by Liz Kessler on Twitter
Liz Kessler and James Dawson are both out and proud YA authors - and what is more exciting than feeling comfortable to be yourself and help encourage others to feel comfortable about being themselves too? Their panel discussing LGBT and YA was one of the most thought-provoking things that happened, so I'd suggest you scroll back on the YALC Twitter to see the live tweets that they posted throughout. 
Another thing relating to LGBTQIA that made me think was a question posed to one of the panels: "What about asexuality in books?". I definitely root for all sexual orientations and romantic inclinations to be displayed fully in the YA genre, because for teenagers often books are the only way to learn things - how can you learn about yourself if you aren't represented? But I think Samantha Shannon answered in such an eloquent and enlightening way that really makes me question the world around us...
"Is it possible that not having sex and asexuality is more taboo?"
Tell me that that doesn't make you look at things in a different light and I will be very surprised. It's something that I've never considered before, but I'm dwelling on it now.

4) Derek Landy promoting his new series

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Posted by HarperCollins Children's UK.
Personally I'm not *that* excited about this (please don't kill me!) but some of my best friends are massive fans of the Skulduggery Pleasant series, so I know how excited they are about the 'Demon Road' promotion. This series definitely seems more up my alley than Skulduggery did, so I'm keeping my eye on this one... 

3) 'Lady Midnight' chapter samplers

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I know some of these were available at BEA, but it's exciting to know that there are officially chapter samplers over here in the UK. I don't know how I feel about there being a third Shadowhunters series, but I'm still going to give 'Lady Midnight' a try, if it ever comes out... 

2) The announcement of LA Weatherly's new series

I'd heard mumblings that LA Weatherly was going to be announcing something extremely special at YALC, and I was not disappointed when she announced 'Broken Sky'. The first book in The Broken Trilogy, I'm already sold - 1940's America setting? Count me in.


1) The Mental Health in YA and the Being A Girl panels

If I'd been at YALC I would have been right at the front for these ones, and that's the reason that they rate above new book announcements or chapter samplers. The themes and issues dealt with in books are always going to be the things I care about the most, and these are both issues I care a great deal about. 

I've struggled with mental health issues in the past and I definitely found that some YA books were a massive comfort for me in those terrible times. Authors such as Cat Clarke and Laurie Halse Anderson have been huge influences on me. This panel would definitely have been the one that had the biggest personal meaning to me - even reading some of the live tweets quoting it made me insanely emotional. 
For anyone out there that struggles with mental health issues, YALC retweeted a beautiful sentiment: 

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Similarly, I'm a strong believer in feminism, and one of my favourite things in the world is finding a strong feminist character in YA - so hearing established authors discussing a topic so close to my heart would have been unmissable. The media have done a great job of making feminists seem old, unattractive and ridiculous, so it's marvellous to see authors inspiring young people to take up the feminist gauntlet. I would have loved to have heard some of the discussions at this panel!

And those were the top five things I'm really sad I missed at YALC. 
As well as this, there was a bucket list wall for 'All The Bright Places' by Jennifer Niven and a secret wall celebrating 'The Accident Season' by Moira Fowley-Doyle. There were also shirtless men dressed as fallen angels to promote the 'Unforgiven' (the upcoming 'Fallen' spin-off novel by Lauren Kate), while the cosplay panels all looked like brilliant fun. I also loved Samantha Shannon's interview with Newsbeat that she gave just before YALC, in which she discussed wanting to allow people to read what they want to read.
I sincerely hope that I'll be able to attend next year!

Once again, check out YALC's Twitter to see other images and decide on which five things you wish you hadn't missed - if you were really sad about missing something leave a comment and we can wallow together. 

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