Sorry for being MIA for a few days, but I had my AP Calc BC exam yesterday and had no time to post. Today, as you can probably guess from the title, I’m going to be doing a recap of YallWest. YallWest, from what I’ve heard about Coachella, is a bookish and obviously much better version. I mean, aside from the long lines and hot weather, there are so many more pluses: free books, meeting authors, and all that good stuff. I will not be doing a book haul today because I got A LOT of books, so I’ve moved that portion into next week. Instead, today I’m going to be covering all the different signings and panels and such that I attended. Loads of pictures and fangirling to follow. I warn you, this will be long, so buckle up my pandas. It’s going to be a bumpy ride!
I signed up for the morning shift of volunteering, so I had to get there at 6 am. It was much too early for me because I am not a morning person AT ALL. However, there were lots of friendly people plus bagels and croissants, so almost all was well. Much of this time was spent setting up: carrying tables, chairs and boxes of books around. The best parts about volunteering this early were that I was able to help and still enjoy all of the festival. Additionally, the gates opened for the general public at around 9:15, but since I was already inside the venue, I was able to visit most of the publishers’ booths early. This was the time I got the majority of my ARCs: I was able to get around 10 books in that first hour. At 10:00, due to my press badge, I was able to get in early to the opening keynote of the day, presented by the amazing Cassandra Clare and Daniel Jose Older, with some introductions by Margaret Stohl, Melissa de la Cruz, Alexandra Bracken, Danielle Paige, and Victoria Aveyard.
Following this keynote, I rushed over to the line for grabbing wristbands for Cassandra Clare’s signing. This was…an interesting experience. We weren’t allowed to form a line until 10:55 am, with the wristbands being distributed at 11 am, so people were kind of just milling around in a big clump. When the organizers came over to tell us to form a line, it was PANDEMONIUM, with everyone pushing and shoving, desperate to grab a wristband. I was eventually able to get a spot in line, but unfortunately my shoelaces did not escape unscathed.
After this heartstopping and shoelace destroying rush, I ran over to the First In Line booth to get in line for Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman signing. Tickets for this had been distributed at 9 am, and I was lucky enough to be able to grab one of the last few. I was completely over the moon to be able to meet with her because I am obsessed with her books, especially the Six of Crows duology. She was just so cool and calm, even though I may have been super starstruck and been freaking out a lot! In addition to getting a DC icons t-shirt and my highly anticipated Wonder Woman ARC, I was also lucky enough to get all my books signed by her, even the actual box of my boxed set!
I then rushed over to the signing area to get my books signed by Evelyn Skye, Melissa de la Cruz, and Marie Lu. They were all super sweet, and I truly enjoyed getting to chat with the authors behind the books that I love. Too many people actually got in line to meet Marie Lu, so I was only able to get one book signed without even talking to her, but I got another opportunity later! 🙂
I spent the next two hours just going from booth to booth, grabbing ARCs that I saw and looking at the various displays. I unfortunately didn’t make it to the Sandhya Menon line in time and missed the When Dimple Met Rishi ARC, but there were a few other interesting booths I was able to go to. I got to finally meet my Twitter friend and debut author Sierra Abrams, whose book The Color Project I can’t wait to get my hands on! (Ok that sentence is really weirdly constructed. Sorry!) I also managed to get in line to have The Hate U Give signed by Angie Thomas, the one and only. Her books is oh so amazing and important, and did I mention it’s a #1 New York Times bestseller? Again? Finally, at around 1:30 pm, I was able to meet Cassandra Clare and get my books signed. She was still willing to talk and take pictures with me, even though she’d been signing for more than an hour and a half.
At 2 pm, I finally attended another panel: Alt Facts, Alt Futures, with Veronica Roth, Marie Lu, Renee Ahdieh, Claudia Gray, Marcus Sedgwick, and Neal Schusterman. This was a group that was a great fit; they were able to go off of each other’s ideas and expand really well on the subject. Dystopia and why it’s so necessary in the current world’s political climate was discussed, as well as how to write dystopian worlds when we kind of already live in one. The talk was a perfect blend of humor and seriousness.
The next hour was also spent attending a panel: Finding Feminism in Non-traditional Pages and Places, with Leigh Bardugo, Dhonielle Clayton, Kate Hart, Sarah Nicole Lemon, Sandhya Menon, and Lauren Oliver. This truly inspiring talk with truly inspiring women looked at feminism in a variety of different contexts, from publishing to everyday life, with a special focus on intersectionalism in feminism.
On my way to my last panel of the day, I encountered Renee Ahdieh and Soman Chainani in the wild! I absolutely adore both of their book series, so I was fangirling so much when they asked me to take them to their panel venue. This was actually the panel I was attending: Villains-Because You Love to Hate Me, with Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Renee Ahdieh, Sasha Alsberg, and Sarah Enni. This panel was half promotion for the anthology of the same name, half talking about the writing process and morals and villains and gray areas, but it was really fun and we covered some pretty serious topics as well. After this panel ended, cupcakes and samplers were given away, and I was also able to get my The Wrath and the Dawn duology signed by Renee Ahdieh.
At 5 pm, I made my way to my last signings of the day. I met Soman Chainani once again, and he was just as awesome as promised in his Ever Never TV YouTube series. I haven’t reviewed his books on here because they’re actually middle grade, but they are super well-written twists on classic fairy tale conceptions and tropes! I highly recommend them to fantasy/fairy tale fans, especially if you like The Lunar Chronicles. Anyway, I digress. But seriously. Read the series!
My last author signings of the day were Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra, authors of the Tiny Pretty Things series. The books are pitched as diverse YA black swan meets Pretty Little Liars, and they are so drama-filled and delicious and just everything I love in a ballet book! Both ladies are just so phenomenal and were so enthusiastic and willing to chat with me. I can’t wait to read more of their books in the future! (Pssst, I know Dhonielle is writing a new book called The Belles and it’s going to be AMAZING!
Last but not least, the Author Smackdown! This hilarious event is the finale of YallWest, with most of the authors participating in embarrassing and hilarious shenanigans. Awkward photos, dramatic readings of teenage terrible writing, a round of Taboo, copious amounts of laughter, and even a dramatic reenactment of Twilight were all included in this last finish to an amazing day.
There was one more fortuitous occurrence for me: I managed to meet Marie Lu, talk to her, and even get the rest of my books signed by her! It was really special to get to chat with her at YallWest because hers were the only author signing and keynote I attended last year, so seeing her again at YALLWest was very nostalgic.
Wow that was long! You can tell how much running around I’d been doing that day by the state of my hair. 😛 Anyway, virtual chocolate shall be sent to you if you managed to make it all the way down here! No seriously, if you are reading this, comment “chocopanda” and some sort of virtual chocolate goodness shall be sent. I don’t even know if anyone will do this, but it’s worth a shot. To recap: early volunteering, extraordinary amounts of fangirling, amazing authors, and interesting panels. YALLWest 2017 was truly a day to remember, and I already can’t wait for next year!