Sunday, 6 August 2017

YALC Write-up and signed Darker Shade of Magic Giveaway

I’ve been to every YALC and it gets better each year. This time, I split my time between YALC and having photographs taken at LFCC. I met so many lovely people (Steph @eenalol, Liv (@liv_gacka), Cora (@Corazzz), Kelly (@kellysambles) and many more) attended inspirational workshops and panels, and got more books than I could squeeze into two suitcases. Who needs clothes?

One of those books is an extra signed copy of A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab. You can earn up to three entries by following my blog, leaving a comment and retweeting my pinned tweet (@yaundermyskin).

This is my book haul, a mixture of books I bought, samplers and proof copies. The process of dashing around to some stalls for proofs was quite stressful, so I avoided going for those.

I’ve already read There’s someone inside your house and it was incredible – a super tense, scary and romantic read. I’m really excited about Everless in particular (and in love with the white cover). 

At London Film and Comic Con, I had photos with Kevin Smith, Finn Jones, Michael Rosenbaum and Alyson Hannigan.

Special mention has to go to Alyson Hannigan, since Willow has been one of my favourite characters since Buffy started. She was really friendly and I don’t think I’ve ever been so star struck!

There were so many amazing things to do at YALC and LFCC that I couldn’t fit it all in. These are the highlights of the events that I attended. Everything is based on my speedily scribbled notes, so apologies for any misquotes or errors!


I started off in a writing workshop with Olivia Levez, author of The Island and The Circus
This was a fun opportunity to write a circus scene as a villain with Olivia's guidance, using her prompts, tips about making a scene cinematic and writing prompts.

My next stop was the Heroines panel with Sophia Bennett, Melinda Salisbury, Amy Alward, Laure Eve and Alwyn Hamilton. I adore all of these authors, so this was a massive treat! I was interested (and unsurprised) by what Laure Eve had to say about her heroes. She’s interested in writing villains, who know what they want and are willing to do anything to get it. They said overall that heroines are characters who have agency, that you can root for and who stand up for their beliefs. Alwyn is drawn to characters learning to be heroes, while Laure is interested in where it goes wrong for them. Sophia made the very important point that we need a variety of role models, and girls need to see themselves in books.

I was really excited by the Thrillers panel, because this seems to be a genre that I’m reading more and more. The main point I took away from this is that a lot of us like a bit of light in contrast to dark subjects in thrillers. Karen McManus also made a comment that stood out to me, about thrillers creating tension by giving readers characters they care about and then making them miserable. It was really great to hear about the many forms that YA thrillers can take. I’ve already read Emily Barr and Karen McManus’s books, but I definitely need to pick up Sweetfreak by Sophie McKenzie. 

The Buffy panel was the essential ending to my day. It was so fun to hear some of my favourite authors quoting Buffy and discussing their favourite (and controversial least favourite) episodes.

After YALC, I headed to Quiz YA, which was run by the amazing Non Pratt as a fundraiser for the Royal Hospital for Neural-disability. This was a great chance to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones (especially Millie @bookbirdfiction and Holly @HollyStorm). I also got to be on Alwyn Hamilton’s quiz team, which was very exciting as she's one of my favourite authors! Although we didn’t win, we had a lot of fun (and ate a lot of sweets).


I spent most of this day queuing for photos (totally worth it) and feeling excited about seeing Laini Taylor’s panel at the end of the day. I also picked up a couple of great proofs and had my books signed by VE Schwab, who is super friendly and smart!

The only workshop I did was Melinda Salisbury’s Books and bags, where we learned how to make cute bags out of books, and weren’t at all surprised that Mel enjoyed wielding sharp tools.

 Laini Taylor’s panel was one of my highlights of the weekend. She was interviewed by Katherine Webber, the author of Wing Jones, which made this extra special because Wing is one of my favourite debuts of the year!
Laini talked about her idea for Strange the Dreamer being made up of a few premises that fit together. Her initial idea was the Muse of Nightmares, and the left behind children of murdered gods. Lazlo stole the story from them! For her, stories grounded in our reality are easier – it’s harder once you strip away pop culture and wider cultural references.
Katherine commented on Laini’s amazing world building, and she said that’s all she did as a young writer! Now, she doesn’t do as much world building. She likes to leave corners of the world unfinished, because you don’t know what you’ll need.
It was incredibly reassuring to hear that Laini has to find the right way into a story, and she decided to introduce the city of Weep through the eyes of an outsider.

The books that made me panel featured the dream team of Laini Taylor, VE Schwab and Joanne Harris. My favourite part of this was when V talked about Harry Potter. Her mum’s friend called about this book she’d got signed for V from some unknown author called JK Rowling!


My first workshop was Writing from Myth with Sarah Mussi. This was a really useful workshop where we looked at the elements of a story and how you can draw out key elements from a myth. It’s a bit like writing fan fiction, as it’s based on a story that already exists. Myths are proven to have powerful elements.

I then attended Rhian Ivory’s wonderful Dialogue writing workshop. She talked about how important dialogue is in terms of showing who characters are by what they say and do. It’s also easy to get wrong! She gave us each a book quote and we jotted down notes about the character. I got The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, which I haven’t read yet, so this was an interesting exercise! I then worked with the lovely Kirsty Stanley (@kirstyes) on putting our characters into a scene together. She got Noah from Noah Can’t Even, and hilarity ensued…

Next I attended Kevin Smith’s panel, who has been one of my favourite directors since I was in my early teens. Dogma and Mallrats are my favourites of his films!

The weekend ended on a high with Juno Dawson interviewing Patrick Ness. I love both authors and it was a joy to hear them talking about writing (and making filthy jokes!) Patrick Ness talked about drawing inspirations for Release from Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Forever by Judy Blume. The book isn’t autobiographical, but there’s a lot of him in it and some events really happened.

YALC was an amazing, inspirational weekend and I’m so grateful to the organisers and the authors who attended.

Thanks for reading my exceptionally long post (if you've made it this far) – good luck with the giveaway!


  1. I'm so jealous that you got to go to YALC I'm definitely going next year! Love this post x

  2. Sooo jealous, I would love to go to yalc. L9ved reading about your experiences thank you x

  3. So jealous . I wish I could have been there too.

  4. I hope to attend one year! Thanks for sharing the magic!

  5. This is amazing! I love the books and looks like you had a blast. Wonderful.

  6. What an awesome haul! Is that Children of Blood and Bone? Wow!

    1. It's a sampler, so I've read just enough to really want it now!

  7. That's a beautiful stack of books, and I'm so jealous you got to see Laini Taylor!!

    1. She's my favourite author and she comes across great in person - very smart and inspirational. I'd definitely recommend seeing her if you get the chance!

  8. That's one of my WL cons - just gotta figure out how to go eventually! Thanks again for the shot at the signed book too :D

    1. Thanks for your comment! Good luck with the giveaway 😉

  9. YALC looks like sooo much fun!! Hope to get the chance to attend one day! :) Thank you for sharing your amazing experience!

    1. Thanks for your comment! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

  10. I miss Yalc can't wait to see you girls again in November !!!!!!