I had to take off school to get to Charleston, South Carolina in time for YallFest 2016, but it was completely worth the late work. Sadly, and surprisingly, it was too dark to read for most of the ride–and I had a bit of a headache all weekend.
We got to Charleston on November 11 pretty early, so early that our room in our hotel wasn’t ready and the festival wasn’t even set up yet! I was missing a few of the books that I wanted to get signed, and of course I was just shaking at the idea of not having the books in time. But I had nothing to worry about: my parents got me the books while I waited in line for my first signing. My copy of The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon was actually already signed, so my mom was free to wander Charleston before her next signing. When my dad got Lauren Oliver’s signature on my copy of Replica, she signed both sides of the book because of the book’s unique format and added a message!
When I met my mom in the Melissa de la Cruz line, she had been having her own fun without me, but that’s nothing unusual. She likes to make friends with other teenagers in line and “adopt” them. I have at least ten adopted sisters and brothers across the country.
But this time she made friends with Margaret Stohl. The co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series was passing by the line and signed my mom’s program and said, “Let’s take a picture, it’ll kill your daughter!” And they did.
Fridays are always just “warm ups” for Saturday, and this year was no exception. I not only got several more signatures, but also got a bunch of advanced reader copies of soon to be released books, met up with an old friend (yes, an adopted sister), ate cupcakes and croissants, and got a picture with Reagan of the youtube channel PeruseProject! The Booksplosion Team was there as well, but Reagan came last minute because she didn’t have any tests that day. I already had a picture with Christine, Kat, and Jesse from last year, so I went for Reagan and dodged the whole line for the rest of them.
We topped the day off with watching the closing keynote, which featured Julie Murphy, Adam Silvera, and Nicola Yoon. The panel was likely already going to be about the need for more diverse books, but with the recent presidential election, they discussed how it has affected them personally and how it will influence the need for books, especially of the diverse kind. It was the only panel that I could make it to that day, and I was very glad that I did!
The last event of the day was the Smackdown. The Smackdown’s sole purpose was to make fun of the attending authors. This included making them read their juvenalia, playing never have I ever, and Scott Westerfeld performing “the Room Where it Happens” from Hamilton in his Donald Duck voice. Later, the all-author band Tiger Beat performed along with the help of a local Charleston high school choir and some of the authors’ daughters as their dancers. They even sang a parodied song about author David Levithan. Their last song of the evening was one by the Beatles, and Libba Bray, the singer, took some time in the middle of the song to talk about kindness and hate. It was the perfect way to end this very, very long and tiring week.