All right, despite being in the “writing community” for years, for some reason I didn’t know about YALLFest until LAST YEAR. I suppose I’ve always assumed that major writing events like this just don’t happen in my area. But boy, was I wrong. THIS IS A MAJOR THING THAT HAPPENS ONCE A YEAR LIKE THIRTY MINUTES FROM MY HOUSE.
Anyway, this was my first year attending YALLFest, and it was definitely a bit of a learning curve, but I really enjoyed it! For those of you who don’t know, YALLFest is a young adult book festival held every year in Charleston (South Carolina) where there are tons of book signings, author panels, and giveaways. This year I wasn’t familiar with a whole lot of the authors, but I still had a lot of fun (I wasn’t able to attend last year, which I’m still super bummed about because Marissa Meyer, Jennifer Nielsen, and Maggie Stiefvater and several other authors were all there and I WASN’T #stilldevastated)
I went with a couple friends, and pretty much right off the bat we picked up a free book! We got ARCs of Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury (which sounds like it’s basically an Anastasia retelling set in space??? Plus I have read a couple of Jessica Khoury’s books before and enjoyed them) so that was a pretty excellent way to start the day. Then I headed off to the first panel I wanted to hear: “Palaces From Paragraphs, Worldbuilding Done Right.” It was such a fun panel, and all of the authors sounded like they’d created such interesting books that it gave me more to put on my to-read list.
(a terrible photo of (L to R) Adrienne Young, Veronica Roth, Lisa Maxwell, Dhonielle Clayton, and Stephanie Garber. I was one of the last people in the room, so I had a seat on the back row)
I checked out the “Rebellions & Reconciliations” panel next, and then there was a panel/waffle giveaway and it was honestly my favorite part of the whole day because those waffles were amazing. Apparently they came from Sweet Belgium which is where I will be spending all of my money from now on.
Then, my friends were gracious and followed me as I took a detour to fulfill a geology extra credit assignment that involved tracking down specific buildings downtown and identifying the types of stones they were made from. It was a bit more difficult than anticipated, but I got some lovely (and unexpected) help from the folks at the Francis Marion Hotel when I went inside to ask them what stone their floors are made of (It’s marble, btw).
Then it was off to lunch at Panera, and then back to the ARC tent where we got two more free books, a free tote, and free candy, pins, and lip balm. (yeah…after that first free book it took us like 3 hours to figure out how to get another one)
(“Rebellions and Reconciliations” panel with (L to R) Veronica Roth, Victoria Aveyard, Danielle Page, Destiny Soria, and Adrienne Young)
(I apologize for another terrible photo! “Myth Making” with (L to R) Jimmy Cajoleas, Alex London, Stephanie Garber, Roshani Chokshi, and Renée Ahdieh)
I didn’t attend any of the signings, since the lines were crazy long and I hadn’t actually read many of the books by these authors. We did attend a couple more panels, though: “Myth Making” and “And We’ll Never Be Royals,” both of which were a lot of fun. Also, it was a little odd but fantastic to just…see the authors walking around? At one point I almost walked into Ally Condie.
(“We’ll Never Be Royals” panel with (L to R) Renée Ahdieh, Danielle Page, Emiko Jean, Robin LaFevers, and Laura Sebastian)
Afterwords, one of the English professors from school invited us over to her house for dinner, which was so kind and lovely and then I went home and probably should have gone to bed, but instead I stayed up and wrote this, except it took me another two days to get around to adding the photos to it so I could post it.
Overall, the day was exhausting, but fun. Even though YA is a genre that can be pretty hit-and-miss with me, I really enjoyed hearing all of the authors speak, and any event that has a chance for free books is good with me. I definitely plan on going next year…but hopefully I’ll be a little more savvy at getting those free books.