Monday, August 5, 2019

YALC 2019 Recap

YALC is the Young Adult Literary Convention which is at the Showmasters London Film and Comic Con. This is held at Olympia at the last weekend of July.

This year was my fifth year attending and, as always, I had an awesome time.
 I attended a lot of panels this year (which I will talk about below). I also entered lots of raffles for early copies of books/ARCs from publisher stands and bought a few books.
 This was the first year that I didn't go to any signings which was weird but meant that I got to go to all the panels I wanted to.
I made sure to make lots of notes this year at the panels.


Here's my book (and swag) haul:

Lost Boy by Christina Henry - this was from the book swap
The Loop by Ben Oliver - this is an ARC that I won in a raffle from the Chicken House stand
An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass - this was also from the book swap
I'm Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal - this is an ARC that I got when I bought Wicked Saints
This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand - I managed to get this hardback for £5 in the Sunday sale
Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear - another from the book swap
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

I got a lot less swag this year, only grabbing things that really interested me.

I also got a print and pin for The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon from the Illumicrate/Fable & Black stand.
I still need to read it, but I'm a fan of Samantha's Bone Season series and they're so pretty that I couldn't resist. 

Here's what I got up to over the three days:


 12pm panel

Myths and Legends 
with Ben Aaronovitch, Mary Watson, Renée Ahdieh, and K.K. Pérez (chair)

 This was an interesting panel which made me really excited for The Beautiful, Renée Ahdieh's upcoming book.

Renée Ahdieh talked about how she loves New Orleans, the setting for The Beautiful, and how she starts with sensory details when world building. She also tries to cook the food that is in each book she writes (which doesn't always end well!). 
Renée said that she wanted Selene, the protagonist in The Beautiful, to discover that darkness and light can exist together in a person.
She also talked about not writing to a trend, and to write something you love. Also to give yourself permission to suck, and that it's impossible to fix something that doesn't exist.

Ben Aaronovitch said that he feels that cities are like people and have their own opinions. He uses a lot of London history in the Rivers of London series.
He talked about writing the book you want to write, and to not listen to anyone else.

Mary Watson discussed how The Wickerlight, the sequel to The Wren Hunt,  explores immigration.
She is drawn to the most bloody Irish mythology.
Mary said that she never set out to write something political and that writing is an opportunity to create a better world.

4pm panel

Ten Things I Love About YA Retellings
with Sharon Dogar and Zoë Mariott 

This panel made me really want to read Sharon Dogar's book Monsters, which is a YA retelling of the life of Mary Shelley.

Sharon talked about how Monsters looks at Mary Shelley from a different perspective, and how it was terrifying to write about a real life event.
She said that authors are like tour guides.

Zoë talked about her latest book The Hand, the Eye and the Heart which was inspired by the Ballad of Mulan. The song Reflection in the animated Disney film gave her the idea that Mulan could be non-binary or transgender.
Zoë wanted to be respectful to the story and included lesser known characters from other retellings.
She discussed how retellings and fairytales are very much about archetypes and how looking at them from slightly different perspectives can reveal truths.

 5.50pm UKYA Blogger Awards

I really enjoyed going to the awards.
It was lovely to see bloggers being recognised for the work they do.
There was also an award for author interactions with readers, which Samantha Shannon won.


10 am panel

Mystical YA
 with Melinda Salisbury, Sarah Maria Griffin, V.E. Schwab, Vic James, Zen Cho, and Yaba Badoe (as chair)
Melinda Salisbury talked about how she hates the real world so finds being able to escape into a literary world healing.
With her writing she wanted to create something where young people were in a place of power. She also likes to create worlds she can control.

V.E. Schwab said that she writes fantasy because you can rewrite the rules, and that she writes worlds that are dark but there is always hope in them.
V talked about how her books have always been about sexuality, and that she didn't realise she wasn't straight until she was 28, but that she always wrote about it.
She writes magic like it's a character, and said that it has to exist as it applies to the characters, that it's very intuitive and nature-based.
With the re-release of The Near Witch, V made the decision not to re-write it. She feels that the differences in the reception it has received are not due to the writing or story, that the audience and and her fan-base are why it's doing well this time.

Zen Cho talked about how she used magic in her books to give characters of colour power.

Listening to Sarah Maria Griffin talk made me really want to read her latest release, Other Words For Smoke.
She said that she furnished the house in the book with Ireland's past and looked at how pain warps reality.
Sarah Maria uses metaphors as a tool for living and said that fantasy can elevate us.
She also spoke about how she is terrible at rules and treats magic like a nausea - it's something that happens to you.

Yaba Badoe said that she uses magic in an elemental way and it depends on the character and situation.

 12pm panel

Chiller Thrillers
with Emily Barr, Holly Jackson, Karen M. McManus, M.A. Bennett and Sif Sigmarsdottir (chair)

Holly Jackson likes reading crime for the mystery, not the gore.
When writing The Good Girl's Guide to Murder, she knew the murderer before she started and wrote the plot out on cards.

Karen M. McManus thinks that there is something soothing about reading and solving a crime in a safe space when reading, that it's cathartic.
Writing is her dream job. 

Sif Sigmarsdottir talked about how phones can ruin the mystery in books, and that lots of characters get killed off in Icelandic novels and TV shows.

M.A. Bennett discussed how she didn't read YA before writing S.T.A.G.S. 

Emily Barr said that she has set up parental control on her laptop so that she can't go on Goodreads and see negative reviews of her books.
She loves trying to figure out the killer in thrillers and that she writes them because she loves to read them.
Emily also talked about how she feels bad about killing off characters in her novels. 

2pm panel

The World of Illustration and Concept Art with Jim Kay

I think this might be my favourite panel that I saw at YALC this year.
Jim Kay talked about his processes and how he makes models and concept art. 
It took him two and a half years to plan the first Harry Potter illustrated book.
He uses real people and real locations to give a sense of reality for the Harry Potter illustrated books. 
Jim felt that there was no expectation or pressure when he worked on A Monster Calls, but that there has been a lot for the Harry Potter books.

4pm panel

Always Look On The Bright Side of Lit with Alexandra Sheppard, Connie Glynn, Jess Vallance, Lucy Powrie, and Simon James Green (as chair) 

Lucy Powrie talked about how she wanted to write about a group of friends she didn't have, and how fictional friends are the best friends.
Lucy said that she also wanted to show how and when friendship goes wrong.
Her advice was that it will take time, but you will find your people.

Connie Glynn wanted to write something fun for LGBTQ+ people for escapism.
She also wanted to show how important friendships can be. How they help you and make you a better person.
Her advice was that you don't need to be unstoppable.

With Oh My Gods, Alexandra Sheppard wrote the book she wanted to read as a teen. She wrote it for herself.
Alexandra said that she enjoyed writing the positive side of making new friends and getting a new friendship group. She keeps romance as a sub-plot to make it more realistic and wanted to bring a touch of magic to her corner of London.

Jess Vallance covered the questions she was interested in.
Her advice was to love something, and that it doesn't matter what it is.


10am panel

New Voices of YA Fantasy with Adrienne Young, Bex Hogan, Christine Lynn Herman (chair), Kesia Lupo, P.M. Freestone, and Rachel Burge

Adrienne Young had a feeling that Sky in the Deep would be the book to get her published and she couldn't stop smiling when she sold her debut.
She said that even good reviews can be intimidating as there is pressure to include the things that people love in the next book.

Rachel Burge felt that Goddess Hel was easiest to write in The Twisted Tree, and that Stig was the hardest and that she wanted readers to be unsure of his motives.
The Twisted Tree was inspired by a Tarot reading and the Shaman that did it.

Kesia Lupo found Constance in We Are Blood and Thunder harder to write than Lena, and felt that she had to grow up first before she could write her.
Kesia talked about how she did lots of embalming research for We Are Blood and Thunder.

Bex Hogan found the ship in Viper hard to write and counts it as a character.
Bex said that she had to change the villain's name because it wasn't scary enough.

P.M. Freestone talked about how she did lots of perfume research for Shadowscent and will be doing a perfume-making course soon.
She also researched poison symptoms.

 1pm panel

One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap For YA with Sasha Alsberg, Temi Oh, Alastair Reynolds, and Taran Matharu (as chair)

Alastair Reynolds talked about how he loves space opera and worked for the space agency.
He finds it fun to keep up with science, not specifically for research.
Alastair said that he will get a scene stuck in his head that he HAS to write and gets frustrated when not writing.

Sasha Alsberg feels that with books you can spend more time in a character's head compared to films.  
She researched astronomy and likes to think of the craziest things she can get away with when writing.
Sasha said to write what you love and to not let your age define what you do. Also that being young gives you an advantage because you know what's popular.

Temi Oh talked about how she keeps track and researches technological enhancements.
Temi started writing Do You Dream of Terra-Two? with the characters. She tried to make them as different as possible to cause conflict.
She likes YA because there are lots of firsts.

Taran Matharu said that he never adapted his work to be YA.
His advice was to write the book that's true to you.

2pm panel

Behind the Curtain with Carrie Hope Fletcher and Anna James (chair)

Carrie talked about how she got the idea for When the Curtain Falls while touring for The Addams Family.
Carrie said how nerve-wracking it was to release When the Curtain Falls because it contains two things she loves.
Her advice for writing was to not wait to be motivated and that procrastination is faster and will always find you first.
Carrie wishes that she had trusted her instincts a bit more when she first started writing, and not listened to what everyone else told her.

4pm panel

Monsters and Their Makers with Kristen Ciccarelli, Natasha Ngan, Samantha Shannon, Taran Matharu, and Eleanor Pender (chair)

Taran Matharu said that he created the world and monsters first in his new Contender series.
Also that he wanted to explore how people behave in different positions and worlds in different ways.

For Natasha Ngan the monster came first when writing Girls of Paper and Fire. She drew on her experience of being sexually assaulted.
Girls of Paper and Fire is very much about power, and Natasha drew upon her memories of Malaysia. It is a love letter to her culture.
Natasha also said that sometimes killing a monster is not the only way to defeat it.

Samantha Shannon said that for The Priory of the Orange Tree she researched Elizabethan alchemy theory for a reason to have both good and bad dragons. She also looked at tree mythology.

Kristen Ciccarelli wanted to write a character who was ashamed of herself and her love of stories in The Last Namsara.
She drew on fears a lot, including the fear of the truth, stories and loss.

On Sunday I also went down to the comic con floor and met Jenna Coleman!

Did you go to YALC?
Did you go to any panels?
What authors would you like to see next year at YALC?


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