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Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Trip to YALLFest

Earlier this month, I had the extreme pleasure of attending YALLFest 2012 in Charleston, SC. I’ve been looking forward to this for months and months, and it was honestly one of the best book events I’ve attended. Everyone was so incredibly nice and friendly and awesome, from the staff of Blue Bicycle Books and the YALLFest volunteers to the incredibly gracious authors to each and every fellow attendee. Must have been that Southern hospitality and beautiful weather!

Ladies and gentlemen, MARGIE STOHL!
My long-time friend and fellow blogger Elizabeth from Nightmare on Book Street joined me for the festivities and though this was her first big event, she handled everything like a pro. I mean, she brought fruit snacks and everything. She and I arrived bright and early on Saturday to wait outside the Charleston Music Hall in order to see the opening keynote with Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. We were ENTHUSIASTICALLY welcomed by Margaret Stohl. Margie’s arm-waving joy was a fixture for the rest of the day, and she kept us all smiling.

The schedule claimed Cassie and Holly would talk about literary friendships. While they did just that, they also talked the beauty of sharing shoes on tour, their own mutual stalking/admiration society, and the break-up of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Also, the name of elves may have been sullied. Basically, they were delightful.

We followed this with one of my only panels of the day (to clarify: YALLFest has so much to offer in the way of panels and signings that I had to make a hard decision weeks ago: signings or panels. I had so many authors I wanted to meet, so signings won). The YA GIRL BAND featured Elizabeth Eulberg, Stephanie Perkins, Simone Elkeles, Allyson Noel, Jenny Han, and Kathryn Williams. I’m glad this was the panel I got to see in its entirety, because it was just perfect. The authors had a great rapport, playing off one another like (gasp) the YA Girl Band for which their panel was named. The highlight for me was Elizabeth’s story of meeting the New Kids on the Block (she’s a Joey girl, and I’m for Jordan, so we would get along just fine!). Also, I finally got to meet fellow YALLFest attendee and author Lauren Morrill in the crowd. She was straight up awesome, and so’s her new book Meant To Be which released last week!!

After a substantial but constantly moving line, I found myself face to face with two of my favorites: Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han. I tend to make an idiot of myself in front of authors (see also the John Green Star Penis story), but I think I managed to stay on the good side of fangirl. Well, except that I recognized Stephanie’s wrocker husband Jarrod and had to tell Jenny who the mystery man was who brought her a cupcake. Jenny and I gabbed about Richmond (yay RVA girls!), and Stephanie is exactly as adorably sweet, friendly, and awesome as you would imagine. We’re totally BFFs now… in my own mind.

Stephanie Perkins (Lola & the Boy Next Door),
Jessica, and Jenny Han (The Summer series and Burn for Burn). 
After that, our numbers were up… to meet Cassandra Clare. This is my third time seeing Cassie, and she couldn’t believe I’m not sick of her yet. We talked Jem vs. Will, where it was concluded Will is precious in print but he’s too much work IRL. From there, we made it to David Levithan’s table, where he giggled at my elation over seeing his signature next to John Green’s in my copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. One PBJ smoothie later, and it was time to grin at Gayle Forman, whose signing took place in an urban Narnia. One more line in the sunshine, plus a rousing rally call from Margie, and Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl were in the house! Beautiful Creatures was one of the books that got me back into YA, so seeing the two of them (in South Carolina!) was an all-around treat.

The incomparable David Levithan. 
My last panel was In Production 2013, where Cassie, Kami, and Margie gave us a little bit of inside scoop about their movie adaptations. The preview of Beautiful Creatures gave me chills! And if there were any Jamie Campbell Bower doubters in that audience, they certainly didn’t leave that way after Cassie spilled that JCB learned all of the runes and corrected a make-up artist who gave him the wrong one! He even learned the Bach piece that Jace plays on the piano. Robert Sheehan received the biggest applause during the City of Bones segment because Robbie is the actual best.

Finally, the event closed with the YA Smackdown. Teams Romance, Contemporary, Mystery, Dystopian, and Supernatural competed in a three round battle emceed by Rose Brock and “judged” by Sarah Rees Brennan (plus a proverbial peanut gallery). It was by far one of the silliest things I have ever seen in my entire life, so naturally, I loved it. I cannot recap it in a fitting manner so I’ll say this: Beth Revis and Diana Peterfreund should take their two-woman show on the road (Flippers of Doom!), YA authors are hilariously inappropriate, and Team Mystery was ROBBED.

In conclusion, YALLFest rocked. Thank you Blue Bicycle Books! All book events can be this much fun! Also, BIG HUGE HEAPING thanks Elizabeth for being my event buddy! You should check out her round-up for more stories and fun times.

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