Aug 9, 2016

YALC 2016

The weekend before last I went to London for the last day of the third annual Young Adult Literature Convention; YALC was taking place only a few days after I flew back from the US, so going was a bit of a daring decision, but in the end the bookish joy it brought me was more than worth the exhaustion of a whole day out so shortly after my trip.

I wanted to go on the Sunday because that’s when Maggie Stiefvater was going to be there — I probably don’t need to tell you about my undying love for The Raven Cycle at this point, and I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I was to get a rare opportunity to see her in the UK. This is not going to be a very in-depth post, both because I was tired and didn’t take a lot of notes and because it just wasn’t that kind of event. It was less about discussing the books and more about Maggie Stiefvater telling us funny stories about life and writing and touring. Many of these were familiar to those of us who read her tumblr, but no matter — the point was the delivery, and the experience of getting to see someone you admire be charming and entertaining and joyful along with a room full of people who obviously feel deeply about her work.

All this to say: apologies for the lack of depth, and here’s a glimpse of YALC anyway:

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Giant Harry Potter colouring sheets! YALC had a bit of an unofficial Harry Potter theme this year, which makes sense considering that it coincided with the release of the Cursed Child script book. They had copies for sale on Sunday and they all disappeared in no time.

I loved this “I am a feminist because...” display so much.

More Harry Potter: they had a few of the film props on display!

“What does Harry Potter mean to you?” boards, which got full in no time.



The main London Film and Comic Con space, which we wandered through briefly. They changed venues since I last attended two years ago, and this one felt far better organised and less overwhelming.

Frances Hardinge was also there on Sunday, and as always it was a delight to see her. I didn’t take any notes during her panel with Philip Reeve and Tanya Landman, but I do remember that she said she’s working on a new historical fantasy set during the early English Civil War and featuring a “very angry, very dead bear”, which needless to say I was ridiculously excited to hear. She also talked a bit about how her being “allergic to injustice” informs her writing, particularly when it comes to gender. She sets out to writes stories, not manifestos, but all the things she cares about and sees in the world find their way into them.

I would totally have gone for a bookish manicure if I’d had the time.


...and Maggie!

This one’s for Memory.

All the excited bookish teens warmed my heart.

Maggie Stiefvater signing queue, where my friend and I waited for two hours and a half. At least they used numbers and called us in batches, so we could sit for most of that time. Maggie Stiefvater signed for nearly 150 people before she got to us, but she was still extremely kind and generous and attentive. She signed my book, and I blabbed incoherently about going to Virginia and wandering around going “...Cabeswater?” at every tree, and making the friend I was with buy The Raven Boys just because I wouldn’t shut up. I would have said more, but there were another hundred people waiting behind us and staff were keeping the queue moving pretty quickly by then, which all things considered was probably for the best.



I bought the first two books in The Raven Cycle, which I’d originally read from the library, so now I have them all. I call this my THESE BOOKS ARE GORGEOUS AND I LOVE THEM SO shelf.

I’ll be back soon, with US travel photos and/or words! I hope you’re all well.


  1. That was plenty in depth for me. It made me wish I had been there!

  2. Not everything of worth has to have great depth. I adored this post! Your pictures are so wonderful, and tell quite a story all on their own even if you'd added no words at all. But hooray for words, I always love to read your words. :)

  3. This looks like it was so much fun! I'm still waiting for my library hold to come in on the Raven Boys audiobook. Once I've listened to that last one, I'm going to find the prettiest versions to buy for my shelves!

  4. Oh, the Harry Potter display with everyone writing why they loved it made me feel so happy. I have been having complicated Harry Potter emotions lately with the Magic in America mess and all the issues people have had with Cursed Child, so it's nice to be responded of (some of) the reasons I loved in the first place.

    It's interesting -- like, reading some of those things, the anti-fascism thing, and the Dumbledore's Army flag, it makes me think about the way stories take on a life of their own that can be beyond the limitations of the author who made them in the first place. Is that a thing? Like the meanings and values we put on these books doesn't have to be limited by JK Rowling's blind spots.

    1. Yes, yes, that is definitely a thing! It's what the whole "books belong to their readers" thing has always meant to me. I also love much of the fan culture that has developed around the series, with the HP Alliance and etc. It definitely goes beyond Rowling's blind spots and it has been a focus point for so many ideas and beliefs that I love. ♥

  5. My whole soul lit up at the mention of the very angry, very dead bear. Whyyyyy can't I fit more Frances Hardinge into my reading life? I need more reading time, Ana. Like, that reading scholarship Eleanor Catton offered to kiwi writers so they could just read for a while and absorb all the books would be right up my alley.

    1. I know, Memory, I know D: I wish you had ALL the time. I didn't know Eleanor Catton had done that, by the way - that's amazing and it warms my heart.

  6. Thank you, all! I'm very glad to hear you enjoyed the photos and the glimpse of YALC :D

  7. So I still haven't gotten to MS's books yet. And I can see, now, that that's a very big problem (but a "nice" problem to have to solve too). The event sounds like a tonne of fun and I'm impressed by her staying power to give so many autographs and have so many personal exchanges, however short, with readers. That must be exhausting, but she looks like she's having a super time too!

    1. I know! She was so full of genuine warmth, though I bet it really is exhausting. And read the Raven Cycle asap, please! It's an amazing series.


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