YA Lit Day: meet the panellists

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 09:05

Whether you’re a keen reader, or aspiring writer, if you’re into Young Adult Literature then there is nowhere better to be on 26 October than Southbank Centre. Part of our annual London Literature Festival, our YA Lit Day sees a huge breadth of YA writing talent descend on our venue for a day of fascinating discussion hosted by performance poet and author of the forthcoming collection Somebody Give This Heart a Pen, Sophia Thakur.

Join us as our specially assembled panels of YA writers and authors look at ideas of class, community and privilege; delve into explosive retellings of well-known fairy tales; and talk about how dystopian worlds can hold up a lens to the urgent issues of our times across four one hour talks.

11.45am: Fairy Tales for the 21st Century


Nikita Gill, author

Nikita Gill

Nikita Gill is a British-Indian writer and poet who has published three collections of poems and short stories including 2018’s Fierce Fairytales: & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul. In her latest book Great Goddesses: Life Lessons from Myths and Monsters she explores the untold stories of the life bringers, warriors, and creators that shook the world; the great Greek Goddesses.

Kiran Millwood Hargreave

Kiran Millwood Hargreave is a British poet, playwright and novelist. Her bestselling debut, The Girl of Ink & Stars won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017 and the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year, whilst her third book. She has written too further acclaimed children’s books, and recently released her debut YA title, The Deathless Girls.

Louise O'Neill, author

Louise O'Neill

Louise O'Neill is an Irish author who writes primarily for young adults. The success of her multi-award-winning debut Only Ever Yours, prompted The Guardian to describe O’Neill as ‘the best YA fiction writer alive today’. She works as a freelance journalist for a number of Irish national newspapers and magazines, covering feminist issues, fashion and pop culture, and has written three further books; the latest of which is The Surface Breaks.

Aisha Bushby

Chair for this discussion is Aisha Bushby, whose debut novel A Pocketful of Stars was released in August this year. A regular voice on YA panels, Bushby came to prominence when she was selected as one of only four previously unpublished authors in the Stripes anthology for BAME writers, A Change is Gonna Come.

1.15pm: From Social Media to Social Norms: Tackling Stereotypes and Scrutiny


Laura Bates

Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project; initially a website documenting examples of sexism from around the world, it has gone on to influence government policy on sexual harassment. Bates published her first book, Everyday Sexism, in 2014 and followed that with Girl Up (2016). In September 2019 she published her debut YA book, The Burning.

Patrice Lawrence

Published in 2016, Patrice Lawrence’s first YA book Orangeboy won The Bookseller′s YA Book Prize 2017, the Waterstones Children's Book Prize for Older Children 2017, and was shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award. Both Orageboy and Lawrence’s follow-up Indigo Donut (2017) are set in Hackney, where she has lived since 1997.


Muhammad Khan, author

Muhammad Khan

Muhammad Khan is an engineer, a secondary-school maths teacher, and a YA author. Khan takes his inspiration from the children he teaches, and his own upbringing as a British-born Pakistani. He has written two novels; I Am Thunder, which was one of the most highly anticipated YA debuts of 2018, and Kick the Moon.

Sarah Shaffi

Chair for this discussion (and the following event) is Sarah Shaffi. A freelance literary journalist and editor, Shaffi writes about books for Stylist Magazine online and is books editor at Phoenix Magazine. She is also  editor-at-large at independent children's publisher Little Tiger Group, and co-founder of the networking group, BAME in Publishing.


3pm: Too Close for Comfort: Recognition and Resistance in Dystopian Worlds


The author, Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus Sedgwick is a British writer, illustrator and musician. He has published a frankly incredible number of novels including Floodland (2001; winner of the Branford Boase Award) and The Dark Horse (2002; shortlisted for The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize). He authored several picture books, and has illustrated a book of folk tales for adults.

Author, Fiona Shaw

Fiona Shaw

Fiona Shaw is the author of a memoir and five novels, whose 2009 book Tell it to the Bees has now been adapted for film. Shaw's first YA novel, Outwalkers (2018), was shortlisted for YA Book Prize, longlisted for Branford Boase Award, and nominated for the Carnegie Medal.

4.30pm: Loyalty, Exclusion and Safe Spaces: Writing friendship


Dean Atta, poet

Dean Atta

A British poet of Greek Cypriot and Caribbean descent, Dean Atta has been listed by The Independent as one of the 100 most influential people in the UK. Atta’s poetry often deals with questions of identity and social justice. In 2018 he published The Black Flamingo, a verse novel about a black gay teen reclaiming his identity as a drag artist.

Sara Barnard

Sara Barnard is the author of four YA books beginning with her 2016 debut Beautiful Broken Things, which was shortlisted for The Bookseller’s YA Book Prize. In 2019 Barnard won the prize with Goodbye, Perfect (2018) which is written from the point of view of Eden, a young woman left stunned when her best friend runs away with a teacher.

Yasmin Rahman

Yasmin Rahman is a British Muslim writer. Her short story, Fortune Favours the Bold was published in Stripes’ anthology A Change is Gonna Come, which was awarded a YA Book Prize Special Achievement Award 2018 for commitment to making YA publishing more inclusive. Rahman’s debut novel All the Things We Never Said was released this year.

Nikesh Shukla

Chair for our final discussion of the day is writer, editor and podcast host Nikesh Shukla, who is perhaps best known as editor of the Book of the Year shortlisted essay collection, The Good Immigrant. Shukla’s debut novel Coconut Unlimited, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010 and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2011. In 2019 he published hs second YA novel, The Boxer.


YA Lit Day takes place at Southbank Centre on Saturday 26 October, with all of these discussions taking place in our Purcell Room

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