Kiran Millwood Hargrave's guide to YALC!

Posted by Jazz on Friday July 21st, 2017

YALC is nearly upon us! Author of The Girl of Ink & Stars, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, shares her top tips for the weekend ...

YALC is a wonderful weekend: a chance to meet likeminded bookish people, fangirl over your favourite authors, and pick up early releases. But last year was my first year, and I have to admit to being a little overwhelmed and underprepared at points. Here are five tips for making sure you have the best YALC possible:

1. Go with a plan … but be prepared to break from it

I had the best intentions last year. I was scheduled to solidly attend panels and signings, with only a half hour’s break for lunch. But from the first day, my plans got sidelined – I got caught in a long queue for Louise O’Neill and missed my panel. But I quickly relaxed into it. There’s so much going on you won’t catch everything, and that’s ok. Pick two things a day that mean a lot to you, and go with the flow the rest of the time.

2. Don’t be scared of the authors!

I was so intimidated last year. I met Katherine Webber and Anna James, Mel Salisbury and Cat Doyle, Malorie Blackman and Maggie Stiefvater. Since, I’ve become friends with many of them, but I know how terrifying it is to approach someone who has written a book that changed your life, or chaired an event that rocked your world. But they are just people, and you can talk to them, so long as you do it in a respectful way. If you see Malorie Blackman, just be prepared for how warm and wonderful she is – she hugged me last year and I actually cried (Jazz from CH has the photo evidence).

3. Look for the special events outside main panels and signings

As YALC is such an event in the YA calendar, publishers pull out all the stops. Be sure to look around the stalls and ask about giveaways or signings they may be hosting that aren’t on the official schedule. I’m signing at 12.30pm on Saturday at the Chicken House stall if you want to come say hi!

4. Take a time out

YALC has a special quiet area for people who need some down time. I suffer with anxiety, and it’s invaluable to know that this safe space exists. If you think you’ll need it, or know someone who might, familiarise yourself with its location at the start of the day so you can take a break if you need to.

5. Take cash, because last day = sale day!

Being a book addict, I arrived with one tote and left with three. It’s worth bringing a wheelie case or a couple of extra totes, because you will buy more books than planned. And on the last day last year, publishers were selling books for crazy discounts … I picked up a couple of my favourite reads for £2.50 each.

I hope these are useful, and that I can take my own advice! See you there …

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