All us book nerds know that reading YA novels (and books in general) has fallen in terms of popularity. There aren't many people who would pick up a book in their free time, especially with their phones glued to their hands. I've loved reading since the age of 10, but just recently have I found a place where all book nerds and authors alike can unite and discuss their love for reading at the YALLFest, a young adult book festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Once a year around November, there is a weekend of all book-related things where over 60 authors show up to sign, talk and promote their own books. There is everything from panel discussions to signing lines, where you can sneak in a picture or two with your favorite author.
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this year's YALLFest from Nov. 10 to 11, and the five hour drive from Atlanta was totally worth the amazing experience I had. I was able to meet four of my favorite authors: Cassandra Clare, author of "The Mortal Instruments," Nicola Yoon, author of "Everything, Everything," Becky Albertalli, author of "Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda" and Victoria Aveyard, author of the "Red Queen" series. Although the signing line moved quickly, I was able to express my affection for their books and the characters they created. Reading makes me so happy, being able to explore another world with characters that we may aspire to be.
I attended multiple panels and discussions. There was a panel called "Sci-Fi Shennanigans" featuring Veronica Roth, Alexandra Bracken, Jason Segel and many more amazing sci-fi authors. It was all fun and games with a couple questions mixed in about how each author managed to create their unique sci-fi world. The second panel I saw was "Ever Expanding Universes." Here, authors discussed how they build onto their worlds after multiple books, or in Cassandra Clare's case, multiple series.
I also attended a keynote with Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. For those that may not know, Jason Segel is also an actor that appeared as Marshall in the TV sit-com "How I Met Your Mother." They discussed their new book, "Otherworld," the fifth collaboration these authors have done. Also, there was the closing keynote that included Marissa Meyer, author of "The Lunar Chronicles" and Cassandra Clare. They answered questions about the worlds in their series.
It doesn't end there! While at YALLFest, I was able to get 10 free books. What book nerd doesn't love free books? Along with that, I also got a lot of book-related merch, chapter previews, posters and anything else a book nerd could want. YALLFest takes the words "book convention" to an entirely new level. On the streets of Charleston, you could see people running from place-to-place, trying to get to their next panel while also fitting in an author signing. There were suitcases filled to the rim with books, and in some cases, there were two suitcases for one person.
That was my second year at YALLFest, and I really hope it won't be my last. I have so much to thank these authors for.
I can't forget to mention the things I learned that weekend. During these panels and keynote discussions, the authors gave a lot of writing advice, even without meaning to. The one thing that got stuck in my mind was that in order to know the character you are creating, you don't have to just make them a profile, but you have to make them run through situations and events and see how they handle and react to them in order to gain a full understanding of that person. For me, I think that is going to help me a lot as I aspire to be an author as amazing as the ones I've met.
YALLFest is every YA fanatic's dream, and there is nothing that can make me happier than being able to revel in my passion with other people that completely understand me. If you are a book nerd like me, then you won't regret going to YALLFest. Try to go because if you do, I can guarantee you will have the time of your life!