What do you get when you put our favorite New York Times bestselling YA authors and thousands of their biggest fans in one place? Well, you get a few things—including a rock concert, a YA author smackdown and enlightening panels—but roll it all up into one event and you get the best YA book festival in history . . . YALLfest. Founded by Blue Bicycle Books along with authors Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures), Melissa de la Cruz (Frozen) and Kami Garcia (Unbreakable), this jam-packed weekend was not to be missed!
This year, things started out with a bang when Divergent author Veronica Roth teamed up with the hilarious Rae Carson for the keynote address. Things were a blur from that point on! Panel after panel took off, including “After the Peculiar Wedding” featuring authors (and newlyweds) Ransom Riggs and Tahereh Mafi, and “Grand Ole YA’Opry” featuring Southern authors like Carrie Ryan and Stephanie Perkins, until all 18 panels wrapped up.
So, where did these thousands of superfan teens go in between their choice panels? To get their books signed, of course! Lines of YA-hungry readers (backpacks, suitcases and wagons of books in tow) wrapped around downtown Charleston, SC, blocks as the fabulous authors did their job and passersby stopped to gawk at such a large-scale (and very well produced) book event.
Even a little surprise sick spell didn’t keep Ransom Riggs out for long! (Ransom Riggs puked and all I got was this stupid sticker.)
But even after the panels were over and books were signed, there was still business to be taken care of. Another crowd gathered to end the day right where it had started, only this time with a concert featuring the beloved Libba Bray, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Natalie Standiford and Barney Miller of Tiger Beat. The crowd rocked out with glow sticks to songs ranging from “I Want Candy” (yes, there was actual candy involved) to “YA Song” to a quirky ballad honoring none other than David Levithan.
Oh, and did we mention that Barney Miller was totally Prince in his previous life? Let’s just say “Purple Rain” has taken on a whole new meaning!
Follow this concert up with the annual YA Smackdown, and we were rolling with laughter. Hosted by Gayle Forman and Adam Gidwitz, this final event featured all of the authors in different improv situations. Ever heard Beyonce’s “Halo” turned into a Lord of the Rings hit—”Frodo?” We have. The authors were able to let their hair down and show us just how much they love each other and love what they do.
With that, YALLfest 2013 came to a close and the countdown til next year kicked off! We can’t wait to see y’all there!