Let me just start out by saying this: I'm lucky. In the last five years, I've gotten to go to five different cons, some of them twice. This includes the infamous Dragon Con, as well as up and coming cons like Treklanta, WHOlanta (formerly TimeGate), and CONjuration. I always have a great time at an event like these, as well as getting a great sampling of different kinds of conventions. This is even more true if you include the three literary/publishing conferences I've attended: Publish15, the Atlanta Writing Workshop, and TLC's Writer's Day.
And now I can add last weekend's London Film and Comic Con as well as the Young Adult Literature Convention! That's what this post is about: my second taste of London events (the first being Gabriel Iglesias, who you should go see if you can).
I purchased a one day pass, because LFCC's page was a bit lacking on firm schedule information. Not sure what it is about convention websites, but they often seem a little disorganised when it comes to information on their scheduling and events. Maybe I'm missing something. It's happened before. I also wanted to have a taster menu of what nerd cons were like on this side of the Pond.
No, not that one.
I followed my usual pre-con plan:
Who did I go as? Liv Moore, from iZombie.
In retrospect, I should have gone with something more prevalent in the UK; only one person recognised me.
PROTIP: Don't cosplay CW characters except for winter cons cause all CW characters wear approximately five layers of clothing.
Entry to the con was handled very well, and seemed to heavily benefit those who showed up right when they started letting people in. The queue was absolutely massive, nearly filling the loading warehouse of Olympia. But once the doors opened, we got in without delay. And once inside?
BLISSFULLY AIR CONDITIONED. Easily so far the best thing about LFCC, and the comfort levels exceeded that any con I'd attended. I was pretty disappointed that I wasn't getting a badge, as I was looking forward to adding it to my collection.
Not much, if I'm honest. It dawned on me why queries about autographs and photography slots dominated the FAQs, and why there wasn't a lot of information about the event beyond the celebrity autographs/photo sessions and the vendors.
LFCC, in comparison to previous cons I attended, was sorely lacking in workshops, panels, activities, and other things to do. However, their board/video gaming area upstairs? TOP. NOTCH. Most cons confine their gaming to a single cramped room, which ends up overheated and overcrowded. They handled this perfectly.
They did host some talks, and featured a really fantastic celebrity guest list. But, as with a lot of high profile talks, a large portion of them cost money for entry. I'm not saying that high profile guests' talks must be free. Paid entry helps offset costs by pushing them onto just the people who want to benefit from the guest talk, and it helps with crowd control issues.
But between that and the typical pricing for celebrity meet and greets, it didn't leave a lot left over for those guests strapped for cash. Me personally, I believe that a con should be like a cruise. There should be premium entertainment available at a premium. But you should also be able to enjoy yourself on just what's included in your cabin price. And that's where LFCC was a bit disappointing. The good thing is, this is a relatively easy fix, since they've clearly already sorted out their cashflow with the plethora of premium options.
I still had a good time. I still had fun.
I still have mad respect for the organisers for what they accomplished.
Half the fun was seeing if anyone would pay me
£20 to drink my hot sauce. No one did.
The ticket that covered entry to both LFCC and YALC was only £2 more than just entry to LFCC, so I decided to hedge my bets and spring for both. YALC offered a very well put together schedule as well as 1-on-1 agent pitching (not useful to me now, but in the future...). It was just simply more in line with what I expected from a convention. Panels, talks, workshops, scheduling, freebies.
And it did not disappoint. I enjoyed two of the free workshops, one on co-writing(a subject near and dear to my heart) and one on screenwriting(because God love me but I do love pain). The hosts were really fantastic, informative as well as entertaining.
I also sat in on one of the panels, Fear Factor, which featured a smattering of YA horror authors. It was here that I met what I'm sure will end up being one of my favourite authors: Dawn Kurtagich. I'll admit I was drifting between the discussion on stage and my phone until I heard her mention three little words that are one of my dog whistles...
House of Leaves
She said it was one of of her inspirations in her book The Dead House. I put my phone away for the rest of the talk, and powerwalked out of it at the end to buy both of her books.You should, too. But not immediately. You're mine right now. Sit down. Powerwalk out at the end.
Oh, and did I mention I got her to sign my books after? She's a swell gal.
I'm really looking forward to next year's YALC. But I could be just fine attending only YALC until LFCC offers more than autographs and vendors.
I understand that a convention represents the culmination of months of blood, sweat, tears, and money from so many people. So I'm not trying to downplay anything LFCC does. And according to LFCC veterans, they've already made huge strides. But I want to see what lies ahead for LFCC. And in the mean time, YALC has my heart. ❤