Last Sunday seven YA authors and over 400 fans gathered in Utrecht for an afternoon of YA goodness. The afternoon started with a panel where the authors got to talk about their books and their writing, was followed by a quiz and then ended with a some photo moments and workshops. It was great to see so many young people be so excited about books, authors and reading and to experience how nice everyone was to one another. Best of YA and Blossom Books did a good job setting up such a big YA festival and as it was the first one ever in the Netherlands, it definitely was an event you shouldn’t have missed. Here’s what I learned during the day:
- The Dutch YA community is the best. The host might have asked this leading question, but all authors unanimously agreed.
- YA authors are the new rock stars. When they came up stage the fans screamed like they were in the vicinity of the Backstreet Boys back in the 90’s (yes I’m old) and throughout the day I’ve heard many people freak about how cute all of them look.
- Tote bag game was strong that day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a great collection of literary tote bags in one place. These people were spreading the book, bookstore and publisher love just slung over their shoulder.
- Tahereh Mafi is the bravest author I know. She once read all of her one star reviews in one sitting and she told us it felt like a physical blow to read all of that negativity. She advised everyone to never ever try this.
- Ransom Riggs writes all his own translations (or so he says). He also told us fans can vote on his website about what should happen in his books, but that no one ever uses the option.
- Stephanie Perkins has the right life goals. When asked what the authors had wanted to do when they were younger, she said that even as a little girl she wanted to work from home. She likes to be alone and in her head, and even though people are great, they should only come in small doses. Also, she’s working on a horror story at the moment and you just know it’s going to be awesome.
- Becky Albertalli is the cutest and I can’t believe I haven’t read her book yet. She thinks the best thing about being a writer is the fact that all these people read the things she wrote, things she wanted to put in a book just because she thought it was interesting. Then she gave us a beautiful quote saying that writing a book is the fastest way of finding a soulmate, because they come to you.
- Lucy Ivison desperately wants to write a historical novel (think late 1930’s, a Downton Abbey for teens type of thing), but Tom Ellen disagrees.
- And speaking of Tom, he and Lucy told us their book needed to be translated to American English from British English and they have many serious emails about what to call ‘private parts’ in American slang. Luckily they went with hoo-ha instead of vajajay.
- Arwen Elys Dayton shared her favorite bookstore, which is The Wild Rumpus, a place where not only books dwell, but even farm animals. She says that she often feels like the chickens walking around are the spines of the novels and that it’s the best place ever.
All in all we had a great time at YALFest and are very curious to see what it will be like next year. If you were there, let us know what you learned and if you weren’t there, then tickets for next year will be for sale in just a couple of days!