YALLFest 2015! A look at the biggest YA book festival! Alexandra Bracken! Victoria Aveyard! Gail Carriger!

Last weekend, I made my first trip to YALLFest, a huge Young Adult book festival which hosts over 60 authors for panels and signings in Charleston, SC. I’ve been hearing so much about it, I decided to take a trip down South and had a great time!

YALLFest is a (mostly) free festival that takes over the lovely Upper King Street area of downtown Charleston. They set up tents and take over some of the local concert halls, cinemas and museums to stage panels on various topics (Building New Worlds, Jedi v Superheroes, Love feels crazy, etc…) and a huge signing frenzy.

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The festivities start the day before with YALLCrawl which features signings by 16 authors in locations scattered around the area (hence the crawl). I headed out to Charleston on Friday, at 3:30 AM. Yes, that’s how early I had to get up to catch the first flight out to Charleston. I mention this because you can tell when you see my pictures later. Sigh!

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I started off YALLCrawl at the Charleston County Public Library for Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone, Six of Crows). Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy, Soundless) was also signing there so this line was pretty sizeable. These ladies were signing for a shorter amount of time since the library also hosts a red carpet event which was a panel with some authors. Ergo, I came here first.

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Luckily I passed the time with a cool book blogger, Kit Cat. Since I was traveling solo, it was great to meet someone with similar reading tastes who had done all this before. We started to play Epic Reads bingo which was sort of a scavenger hunt of book trivia, meeting authors and visiting YALLCrawl locations.

At 3pm, YALLCrawl officially began! Leigh was running a little bit late (her Twitter feed indicates she had a really rough day of travel), but Richelle began signing for her long line.

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Leigh arrived maybe 15 minutes later and was really friendly and constantly apologized for being late. Poor girl! She brought out pins and book marks and was a lot of fun.

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After that I headed to Victoria Aveyard’s signing since her line was super long. She was signing at the Magnifilous Toy Emplorium which is an adorable old-fashioned toy store and, of course, the furthest away from the library. So Cat and I went jogging with all of our books and we got in, no problem since Victoria showed up a half hour EARLY and began signing so she was able to get through everyone. Yeah!

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She was easygoing and friendly and a bit stunned when I pulled out an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Glass Sword – the sequel to Red Queen that doesn’t come out until February. Luckily, I managed to snag a copy at New York Comic Con, but it means I have to wait that much longer for the next book!

I stopped to get my bingo card stamped by one of the Epic Reads ladies who was chatting with a guy. When I pulled out my card, he asked “Did you get the name of my dogs?” Ah! He was author Aaron Hartzler (Rapture Practice, What We Saw) who was one of the trivia squares on the bingo card. (His dogs are Charlie and Brahms). Such a nice guy!

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My next stop was Gail Carriger (The Parasol Protectorate series and Finishing School series) who is as witty and nattily dressed as any of her characters. (I have no idea what’s happening with my hair in this picture, but she looks great.)

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Lastly, I headed to the Best Friend Train Museum which is one of the main signing hubs for the event. The lines for Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures, Black Widow) and Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time books, Shadows of Self) were quite formidable. Melissa de la Cruz (Witches of East End, The Isle of the Lost) was winding down and capping her line early. Fortunately I met Melissa at Comic Con and Margaret at New York Comic Con.

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Fortunately, I was headed to Rae Carson who has very down to earth with her swift moving line. She signed my Walk on Earth a Stranger with a gold pen (very fitting!).

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With that, I got all the authors I needed from the YALLCrawl! Yeah! I was pretty amazed that I got to so many folks. However the lines the next day would make up for it.  I headed off to dinner to sample why Charleston is so obsessed with pimento cheese. (It’s not bad, but it didn’t rock my world…)

The next morning, I headed off to YALLFest early since the first 50 people with the secret phrase at the Epic Reads tent would get into the Scarlet Guard meet up for Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. Cat joined me in line and I met a few other folks including one blogger who is very, very serious about getting books signed.

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Novl was giving out hot apple cider while some of their authors, like local writer Ryan Graudin, dropped by.

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We got our Scarlet Guard tickets (yeah!) and then headed over to our first signing of the day, Renee Ahdieh who wrote The Wrath and the Rose, a lovely update of 1001 Arabian Nights. For some reason, I wasn’t allowed to get any posed pictures today so here’s Cat getting her books signed.

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Kiera Cass was also signing at this time.  I’m so used to cons where everyone cosplays, but I guess that’s not the norm here.  Kiera did have a few girls wearing tiaras in honor of her Selection series.  Also, there’s a guy with a crown in the background here.


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I went to Marissa Meyer (Cinder) next, but her line was pretty insane. I would have gotten through since she was signing for three (!!) hours, but I got word that the line for Alexandra Bracken was already starting!  Only the first 50 in line would get ARCs for her Alex’s next book, Passenger, so I decided to skip Marissa since she’s headed to Chicago this week.

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The line for Alex wasn’t too bad yet, but we were really early. I got a chance to talk with Cat’s mom who was holding her spot and a nice gentleman who flew in from Michigan just to wait in lines for his granddaughter. (Aww!!) Yes, the best accessory for this trip was a family member who would hold spots!

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The line for Marie Lu (Legend, Young Elites) was insane so I’m glad I didn’t even plan to tackle that one. The line for Sabaa Tahir was also looping around so it was a bit crazy here with lots of lines that formed early. (If you’re looking for signed copies of Sabaa’s An Ember in the Ashes, The Book Stall has copies you can mail order…)

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I did make a friend who held a spot for me at the Julie Kagawa (Blood of Eden series and the Iron Fey books) signing. She’d been waiting since the crack of dawn so we got to cycle through Julie’s line pretty quickly. Julie was really chatty and happy to be at YALLFest.

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First in Line (the promo arm of Penguin Random House) was hosting a Biscuit Brunch with some of their authors. I headed over since I wanted Nicola Yoon to sign her book Everything, Everything and, well, I wanted to try the biscuits which were rated some of the best in the city.

On my way over, I ran into Mike the Fanboy reader, Dallas, who seemed be having a good day since he met Veronica Roth (Divergent), RL Stine (Goosebumps) and was about to meet Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket books). Nice to see he was having a successful YALLFest!

The Biscuit event featured 4 authors: E. Lockhart (We Were Liars), David Levithan (Every Day, Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist), Nicola Yoon and Brandon Sanderson. It was a nice event, but they put all the authors at a single table so the line moved really slow. They started a bit late and were allowing 200 people to the event. I was around 80 and three of the authors had to leave for panels by the time I got up there. Yikes!

E. Lockhart managed a quick signature for me before she left and I managed one last signature from Nicola Yoon. Brandon Sanderson left quickly which left a good-natured David Levithan as the self-proclaimed “last author standing!” with the other 120 people at the event.

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I managed to sample one of the biscuits (quite tasty which is unusual since I’m not found of biscuits unless they are smothered in gravy) and grab some ARCs as well. Yeah!

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Then it was back to the Alexandra Bracken line which was now officially in the insane territory. I also met Lillie and Giselle, both really cool bloggers who were bubbling over with excitement for Alex.

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Lillie was also really excited about some of the ARCs she picked up since they usually don’t give out a lot at YALLFest. This was the first year that so many were given out (mostly from Epic Reads and First in Line so thank you!)

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And then finally (finally!) it was time to head into Alex’s line. She is as amiable and fun as ever. She was a little disappointed that they didn’t wristband us since we were in line so early. Still it was worth it since her Darkest Minds series was great and her new book, Passenger is a time traveling romance. So excited to read this one!

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And then we were off to our (not-so-secret) Scarlet Guard meeting! Victoria did a little Q&A before we all received ARCs for the Glass Sword! Read more about the Scarlet Guard meet up here where I am GIVING away a SIGNED ARC for Glass Sword! (Yes, really!).

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After this fun event, I was basically done for the day and headed to the sponsoring book store, Blue Bicycle Books, to pick up a signed copy of Legend by Marie Lu. As sponsors of YALLFest, Blue Bicycle Books host signings, sell books onsite and also had authors come in to sign books for mail order/pick up. I knew Marie Lu’s line would be insane and it was in the middle of the day, so I pre-ordered a signed book.

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And that’s YALLFest! I’m sorry I missed the panels, but it was just so insane running around I knew I wouldn’t get to them. You can check out recaps from Cat, Lillie and Giselle for a different look at the event since they saw some different authors, went to a few panels and Giselle got pulled on stage by Veronica Roth!

For my trip to YALLFest, I was able to get these books signed…

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….and also nabbed a bunch of ARCs which, with the exception of Passenger, I’ll be giving away.

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My giveaway for the signed Glass Sword ARC has already started so make sure you enter! When that finishes, I have more stuff to give out in addition to the ARCs pictured above.  I’m talking more signed stuff (Alexandra Bracken, Margaret Stohl and more!) and lots of swag like what’s pictured below. I’ll keep it YA-themed so its stuff for Twilight, Hunger Games, Shadowhunters, Divergent, Fault in Our Stars and a whole lot more!

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Stay tuned!

Comment below or email me at Erica@MikeTheFanboy.com
For more adventures, follow me on twitter: @Cambear

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  1. Giselle November 20, 2015
  2. The Lovely Erica November 20, 2015

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