Throughout the readathon myself and my co-hosts Carly, Vicky and Michelle will be sharing guest posts from the YALC authors but today to kick the readathon off I have a very special guest post from Katherine Woodfine who works at Booktrust and is part of the team putting YALC together. She's here today to talk about how YALC came about and to give us an insiders look at what it takes to organize such a big book event. Without further ado it's over to Katherine.
YALC: the story so far by Katherine WoodfineI’m lucky enough to manage the Children’s Laureate programme at Booktrust – which currently, of course, means working with the fabulous 2013-2015 Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman.
But if that alone wasn’t enough of a treat, I’m also currently organising Malorie’s major Laureate project – the UK’s first Young Adult Literature Convention! Today I’m here to tell you the inside story of YALC, and how the event came about.
When Malorie was appointed as Laureate in June 2013, one of the key things she wanted to do was ‘make reading irresistible’ to young people. With research showing that only 3 in 10 young people read daily out of class, and a fifth of young people saying they’d be embarrassed if a friend saw them reading, she knew she wanted to change perceptions and get ‘more young people reading more’ – but how?
As it happened, the UK’s Young Adult publishers had already been talking about an exciting new idea to put a spotlight on books for young people. Inspired by events in the USA, they wanted to hold the UK’s first YA Lit Con, and had even had some conversations with Showmasters (the organisation behind London Film and Comic Con) about hosting it – but they were short of someone to take the project forward.
As the first Laureate primarily known for writing for teens and young adults, Malorie was the perfect person to step in – and the Children’s Laureate team were on hand and ready to help make the event happen!
Our first job was to go along to LFCC and conduct some ‘research’. We went along for the day with Malorie and had a brilliant time – celebrity spotting in the Green Room, admiring the incredible outfits, and Malorie even had her photo taken in the Iron Throne. We all loved it and knew that LFCC would be the perfect home for the event, where books could sit alongside films, TV and comics.
So far, so good. But to get an event as ambitious of YALC off the ground, we knew we would need a lot of help. Enter the Young Adult publishers – as well as getting lots of advice from them, we also recruited a fantastic YALC Committee of publisher enthusiasts to help us with all the planning. Our brilliant Children’s Laureate PR agency Riot Communications came on board, and Laureate sponsors Waterstones confirmed they would be able to provide a bookshop for the event. We were also delighted to be able to secure additional support for YALC from Prudential Plc, as well as the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society.
We got the ball rolling by inviting all the UK’s YA publishers to suggest topics and authors, and then we started work with Malorie to put the programme together. This was the really hard part - there were so many brilliant ideas and fantastic authors put forward that we could easily have planned a whole week of events, never mind just a weekend!
We announced plans for YALC at the Winter 2013 LFCC, with a special event with Malorie and three other YA authors - Anthony McGowan, Lucy Christopher and Meg Rosoff. The event was great, but it was even more exciting to see the explosion of excitement about YALC from authors, bloggers and readers.
Several months, many meetings, and an insane number of emails and spreadsheets later, we’re now (whisper it…) just a few weeks away from YALC itself!
Our full schedule for the event has been revealed, including 50 amazing authors and a host of industry experts. We have panel events covering everything from fantasy to horror to how to get published; workshop sessions where you can get tips on writing, creating comics, and even pitch your work to agents; and of course, book signings with all our participating authors. There will be lots of books to buy in our YALC bookshop provided by Waterstones – and of course there will be all kinds of other fun book activities and surprise goings-on to enjoy throughout the weekend!
We hope that YALC will offer something for everyone, from the chance to meet megastar authors to the opportunity to hear from new voices and discover exciting debuts. We want the event to be an amazing experience for all those who love books – but also a great way to show those who might not currently be keen readers just how exciting and inspiring YA books can be!
All you need to come along to YALC and join the fun is a pass to LFCC – find out more here. But if you can’t make it, don’t despair – we’ll be photographing, filming and live-tweeting throughout the event, and sharing as much as we can online. Follow us on Twitter @yalc_uk for all the latest news.
Planning the event has been a real learning curve – but one that we hope will conclude with an amazingly fun and memorable event for everyone, which will help create a buzz around reading for young people, and shine a spotlight on YA books.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today Katherine!
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