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YALC Write-up - Saturday

 Wednesday, 16 July 2014

As a few of you might know I went to YALC last weekend with Jess and in short it was awesome. Like, seriously FUCKING AWESOME. Never has a weekend been so utterly devoted to books and the people who both create and read them and this was such an amazing thing to be able to attend. The whole weekend has already taken on a surreal quality in my mind and it's so strange to think that something that was 3 months in the planning (for Jess & me) was done and dusted in 48 hours.

We begin our epic tale on Friday when Jess & I got the train down to London in an attempt to avoid an horrendously early start on Saturday. Lugging our trolley full of books down several flights of stairs at Euston station was an exercise in strength and fortitude we could have done without, however when we finally arrived at our hotel we discovered it was all of a 400 metre walk from the gates of Earls Court, which was pretty handy.

At this point we felt rather tired; or what we previously knew as tired - our definitions got slightly skewed a day later - so we opted to spend our Friday evening chillaxing on my room's balcony with strawberries and sparkling rose like classy gals, enjoying the view of all the cosplayers leaving the LFCC preview evening and schlepping their way down the street. Then came the obligatory early night before the Morning of Mayhem that was destined to be DAY ONE AT YALC!

Saturday was fucking hot. I mean seriously hot. Like hotter than hell's muggy balls - hot. Ask anyone in Earls Court what they thought of the Con on Saturday and "hot as fuck" would have been their first answer. We got pre-baked outside in the immense queues for standard entry that snaked around a good length of the conference centre with only oohing and aahing over cosplayers to entertain us. When we finally made it inside after narrowly avoiding sunburn and getting into a minor argy-bargy with some snotty queue-cutters *ptuey*, we had to batter our way across the merch zone with our trolley in tow in order to get to the Book Zone. Obviously this was in the furthest corner away from the main doors so it took us a good 10 minutes or so to break free of the crush.

By the time we made it to the Book Zone information point we found that all of the Superfans Panel tickets had gone and that the places for C.J. Skuse's writing workshop had already been drawn - much to our dismay. So to commiserate we flung ourselves at the lovely Waterstones staff and swapped them handfuls of money for armfuls of books - so it worked out quite wonderfully. Then we plonked ourselves down in the awesome beanbags next to the even awesomer Book Wall in order to kill a bit of time before the signings started.

At this point we started chatting to Lily from The Whispering of the Pages  and had the first of several fab booky conversations with her over the weekend (I'm still rather jealous that Lily had C.J. Skuse as a lecturer at Uni). Then we made the slightly deranged decision to venture out of the relative quiet of the Book Zone and plunge back in to the smorgasbord of people in the LFCC merch area. Lots of shuffling, one Batman bobblehead and a growing sense of panic later we retreated to safety and joined an already impressive queue for Rainbow Rowell.

Jess, Charlotte & Lucy Queue Buddies !
This became the queue of legends; that defied all queuing logic and decorum, snaking hither and thither with the end of the line being an elusive pot of gold that no one could seem to find. We landed a spot about one and a half snakes from the start and were standing with a fabulous few ladies who became the Ultimate Queue Buddies as we chatted for the hour and god knows how much extra we waited for the signing to start. Charlotte & Lucy thanks for making the time pass so enjoyably!

During this time there were two awesome occurrences. Firstly I was able to dash over to C.J. Skuse's signing table and get my copy of Dead Romantic signed. There followed a lot of gushy fangirling about how much I loved Rockaholic and Pretty Bad Things and how much they helped me deal with some of the crazy shit I was dealing with back in 2011. Plus my glee about the fact my review of Pretty Bad Things is actually *quoted* in the back of Dead Romantic! C.J. was so lovely and wrote me such a nice message in my book and she even posed for a pic!

The second awesome occurrence during the Rainbow queue was due to the random happenstance of the Celebrity Wrangling Area (or the Green Room in common parlance) being tucked behind the Book Zone. We all got a rather gob-smacking surprise when Lena Headey (Queen Boss Cersei herself) came breezing through the queue right behind Jess! Needless to say there was quite a good deal of flailing amongst the Queue Buddies after that! Eventually Rainbow did appear and we slowly shuffled our way alond to get our books signed. I can't now remember what I said to Rainbow but I'm sure it was fangirly :P

Sashaying sideways from Rainbow's table I stopped at Lucy Saxon's and got her to sign my copy of Take Back the Skies. She was looking amazing in her Captain America Cosplay and I loved seeing the suitcase full of books that she brought to get signed - it's great to know that authors get just as fangirly as the rest of us :P

After all that we needed a bit of a break so Jess went to acquire more drinks while I stood pressed against a wall keeping me and the trolley out of the way of passer-bys. Then Jess dashed to her Blogger Workshop while I nabbed a seat at the Bring me My Dragon Fantasy panel. Alas I don't recall much of it as I was spacing out massively with the heat, dehydration and hunger plus I had to dash off partway through so I could sort myself out before I got in line for the Patrick Ness signing .

Another pleasant queue chatting experience whilst waiting for Patrick - and as we wound our way round the Book zone in the queue I managed to dive over to Amy McCulloch's table and get my copies of The Oathbreaker's Shadow and the Shadow's Curse signed. Amy was really nice and I'm really looking forward to reading and hopefully reviewing this duology in the next couple of months. (Pray to the reviewing gods for me so they send me some mojo).

While Patrick Ness was signing my copy of A Monster Calls, which I read very recently, I told how it made me cry while I was at work - he replied with "You're Welcome." Proof of what I had already suspected; that authors revel in the tears of their readers. :P Something I'm sure Jess would be quick to accuse me of as well *looks innocent*

We were onto the home straight now and at some point around this time (everything got real fuzzy towards the end of the day) I stumbled across Laure Eve on the Books With Bite stand and asked if she would sign my copy of The Illusionists. I didn't manage to read Fearsome Dreamer before I bought the second book but I've got faith that I'm going to really like this series so no worries.

The last two authors we met were Holly Bourne (who Jess was super-excited for since she got to exclusively reveal Holly's new book and she is quoted in the back of it :D) and Natasha Ngan. I got a pic of Holly as she was signing our copies of The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting
in her perfectly colour-matched dress. She told us how hard it had been to find a dress in the same colour as the vibrant page edges of the book but she succeeded magnificently!

Natasha was wonderfully chatty and really nice and I'm going to have to look into getting her first book The Elites after I've read the Memory Keepers as I mentioned to her how glorious I thought the cover was. I don't know how coherent I was by this point so I may just have drivelled at her most of the time we were talking.

So we had reached the end of everything we wanted to get done on Saturday and we had to get ourselves freshened up for the Fringe Blogger & Author Event at a nearby pub. So very wearily we trundled our way back across the now-slightly less crowded Earls Court (Managing to get this pic of the most awesome Castiel cosplay I saw all weekend on the way), so we could drop off most of our stuff at the hotel.

For me Saturday was generally a successful day, I did gripe and bitch about the heat, my crappy knees and the need for proper queuing lanes, but I really enjoyed myself and all the conversations I had with authors and bloggers especially since I've not felt like a proper book blogger for a few years as the last actual book review I did was in 2012. It was a really great opportunity to reconnect with the community and I do now have some of that blogging fervour back that I lost along with my confidence in reviewing. Maybe over the next few months when I'm not working full-time and in a strange limbo space of studying and whatever else I fill my time with I can start to ease myself back into writing reviews and articulating my thoughts and feelings about books like I once did.

Now if you have gotten this far you are to be commended as it's been a post of epic proportions and I'm only a third of the way through. There is still to come my write-up on The Fringe & Blogger Brunch events and Sunday at YALC itself. So stay tuned for those later this week.

Alas it is late and I must sleep because work tomorrow and grumpy Ray is not all that good at her job.


Hope you like this post folks!
Ray x


Jim Dean 17 July 2014 at 07:41  

Fab write-up! It was CRAZILY hot, wasn't it? But great fun! :)

Jesse Owen 17 July 2014 at 21:33  

Awesome write up, I can't wait to read part 2 - it sounds like you had a brilliant time! :)

Ellie 17 July 2014 at 22:30  

YAAAY THE POSTS I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR! Obviously I had a sneak peek at all these photos. I feel so privileged. :)

I had a wander through some of the LFCC pictures on Twitter and Lena Headey was definitely looking fab that weekend! Also I see what you mean about the awesome Milo hair - and every single person seemed to say what a lovely guy he is, really friendly, which is nice.

Now.... hurry up and write the next post. :P

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