YALLWEST was a YA book festival held in Santa Monica on April 11 and 12th. I was pretty excited to go, even though I had to drive through L.A. traffic on my own (I get serious anxiety attacks going through there, no joke). It was a last minute decision to go; my husband was out of the state for an airsoft game, and I was feeling a little resentful that he got to go somewhere cool and I didn't, so when I found out about YALLWEST, I just had to go. I only went on Saturday and I had really high expectations for the day, but I was let down. I don't know if its because my children were misbehaving (and they really were, which is rare. I hadn't wanted to take them, but I didn't have any child care.), or because I did have a panic attack as soon as I hit L.A., but the day wasn't as fun as I had hoped. Top that off with the fact that I had to miss most of the day because we had to wait around to get my daughter's TB test read (for her kindergarten physical, not because she has it), and by the time my kids and I got to Santa Monica, the book festival was mostly over. I didn't get to have any of my books signed, and the booths were out of their ARCs, which is what I really wanted.
It wasn't a total bust though. I bought tickets to two panels, and they were both in the afternoon after we'd gotten there. The first one was a tea with Marie Lu and Veronica Roth, and they were so funny!
Melissa De la Cruz introduced them.
They talked about their upcoming projects (a space opera for Veronica, Marie Lu....I can't remember lol) and just about stuff in general. Veronica Roth is a huge Star Wars fan, so that was pretty cool to find out. They took questions from the audience and they were very open and honest in answering, although one person did ask Veronica about how she felt about how the movie industry was basically murdering her books and she hemmed and hawed at if for a few minutes before she finally gave up and said, next question! I get why she couldn't answer that, you can't really bite the hand that feeds, you know. And I didn't see Insurgent because I heard that they put so much of Allegiant in it that its going o be a miracle for them to even make Allegiant a two movie thing. But they put so much of Insurgent into Divergent that it doesn't surprise me at all that they book jumped. Anyway, I'm getting off topic. That panel was so much fun it was worth the trip to Santa Monica just for that.
Veronica Roth and Marie Lu.
The other panel I got to see was the last one of the night called The Smackdown, and it was mash-up of most of the authors that had been there that day. They were showing old photos of them, and a lot of them read stuff they'd written when they were young. It was hilarious! It goes to show you that writers aren't really born that way. They also had some games thrown in, where they'd give first lines of YA books to see if the authors knew them and they even played their own version of Hollywood Squares.
Other events during the Smackdown included an announcement that an award called the Purple Ink Award was being set up in Kami Garcia's honor. The Purple Ink Award is to help classrooms build libraries so that children have the opportunities to "choose their fandoms" as Margaret Stohl said. The purple ink part comes from the fact that while Kami was teaching, she learned that students didn't respond to criticisms well when they were written in red ink, because it reminded them of blood. So she corrected her papers in purple ink, and found that her students did much better. They also announced who would be the keynotes at their sister book festival YALLFest. R.L. Stine was the only one that mattered to me. I remember being so creeped out by his Goosebumps books when I was a kid.
A YA cover band called Tiger Beat closed out the night, but we didn't stay to listen to them. I felt bad for leaving, because so many people did, but it had been a long day, and I still had to drive the two hours back home.
I really hope they do YALLFEST again next year, because I would like do it again. This time I would like to either go alone though, or with someone else who loves YA as much as I do. Have you ever been to a book festival?