Finding my tribe in the YA community

YALC, I love you. From meeting YA authors to readers to celebrating Friends Don’t Tell, you have my heart.

For a long while, I’ve felt pretty disconnected, with big questions like, ‘Am I doing the right thing with my life?’ whooshing through my mind.  

It hit particularly hard after leaving journalism.

For years, being a journalist was a dream job – interviewing celebs, going to parties, and living in LA.

It was my everything and a HUGE part of my identity!

But I took a risk and gave it all up to focus on Self-Esteem Team, and after I walked away from the newsroom, I felt totally lost.

Even though Self-Esteem Team was growing, and to outsiders it looked like I was successful running my own company, the buzz of writing and connection with fellow journos had vanished.

Yet on July 8, 2022, something shifted… I found ‘my people’ again.

I feel SO lucky to have been invited to YALC, the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention, and my book that began as scribbles on a page is now published.

Rocking up, with fellow co-author, Grace, it felt like (cheese o’clock alert!!!), home.

As soon as we walked into London Olympia, I found my tribe! Here, under one roof, authors and readers who ADORE books as much as me.

Right here, a community of people with an electric bond coz of a shared interest, regardless of ethnicity, age, or gender.

Being on the ‘I’m Only Me When I’m With You’ panel, all about friendship in YA books, was an absolute honour and I had a blast ­­alongside the brilliant Sara Barnard, Molly Morris, and Attiya Khan.

I learned so much hearing them talk, and what Sara said about ‘meeting’ her characters for the first time when she writes, rather than ‘creating’ characters, will stay with me always.

Grace and I also met our first ever readers at the signing table, who kindly came along with copies of Friends Don’t Tell.

I had the fangirl experience too, seeing the inspiring Bryony Gordon and the force that is Juno Dawson on their panels.

This magic little world has filled me with a hunger to keep writing, keep reading, and I’m humbled to be a part of it.

I am so grateful to be accepted into the YA community and urge anyone out there who’s feeling a little lost to keep searching… Whether it’s a book group, art workshop, cooking class, sports club, new job, changing schools, something is out there for you. I really believe that.

Keep going, it might be a lil’ trial and error, but you’ll get there! Xx