YA Shot 2018


YA Shot was held on Saturday 14th April in Uxbridge, London and featured a plethora of wonderful authors sharing their experience and knowledge around the theme of human rights. The event is organised by Alexia Casale and her dedicated team of volunteers, led by the amazing Luna from Luna’s Little Library.

If you just want the quick summary, I met some amazing authors and bloggers and had an incredible day!

This is a mammoth post so thank you in advance for reading!

I completely geeked out about Bright Ruin with Vic James (see my review of Gilded Cage here) which really made my day (week, month and year…)

This is the first time I have attended YA Shot, or any event like this and I was both excited and nervous to go. I knew that I would probably recognise people from Twitter so made a pledge to myself that I would actually go and say hello this time,  instead of just lurking.

My day started early as it took me more than 2 hours to get into London, but it was a fantastic experience which I hope to repeat next year.

There was a packed programme of events:


I managed to attend most of what I had planned but it was a long day so I ended up spending most of Sunday sleeping to recover!

11am Power, Privilege & Inequality Panel


This was the panel I was most excited to attend because I am a massive fan of the Gilded Cage series by Vic James – it is a vision of what the U.K. could have been like if Voldemort had won in Harry Potter, where those with magic are powerful and privileged while those without magic have to give up ten years of their lives to slave.

The panel was introduced by talking about the Human Rights Act which protects everyone, regardless of age, gender, etc. Many dystopian books imagine what it would be like when these human rights are taken away or not protected.

Vic James talked about how a TV series about the super rich  and how their money gives them power to do anything gave her some of the initial inspiration for her story. Samantha Shannon then spoke about how characters need to want power for a purpose, otherwise they risk becoming caricatures. In some cases characters could both want the same thing but become villains in each other’s story.

The most interesting part of the discussion for me was when it moved on to talking about how difficult it can be to see structural inequality when we have experienced it for so long and it has become normalised. Vic James then talked about the Slave Days in her book, saying that people comment that it would never be allowed. Yet, we consider it normal for people to be tied down by debt such as student loans and mortgages.

This is me, bright red in the face from excitement, with Vic James. Can’t wait for Bright Ruin!

1pm Stories for Change


Had to attend this one because both Melinda Salisbury and Alwyn Hamilton are so interesting to listen to and they make a great team! They talked about a wide range of topics including pain of writing a duology when us human beings are so used to trilogies, stories with a beginning, middle and end. They also touched on some of their writing habits and both admitted to always having a ‘secret’ writing project on the side for fun, especially when under pressure to write the book they’re supposed to be writing. As always when listening to these two, I wasn’t entirely sure what would come up in the course of conversation but we were treated to Melinda’s impression of a swallow, Alwyn giving us a few hints about her new book (ssh!), how they would prefer to be poisoned (tea rather than cinnamon buns), finding their namesakes in fiction (apparantly a nurse on a spaceship called Melinda Salisbury…), the difficulties of naming their fictional characters and the reaction of family members to their books e.g. Alwyn’s aunt taking it personally that the aunt in rebel of the Sands is so awful.

Overall, a fascinating and fun conversation to join in with!

2pm Travel, Adventures & Writing Workshop


This was a great insight into Jess Butterworth‘s inspiration and writing process. I have read and adored both of her books so was very excited to join this workshop…although also very nervous as they were only a few of us there! She started by talking about her upbringing and showed us her travel journal, filled with photographs and notes which she used to bring Running on the Roof of the World to life. I found out that the original title was Meet me at the Vulture Tree but the publisher thought it sounded like something for an older audience.

Her second book, When the Mountains Roared, started from two photos – her grandmother with a joey and her dad with a leopard cub. She talked about going back to visit her dad where he still lives in India and how it brought back a lot of memories which made their way into the book e.g. the scorpions!

We then did a writing exercise where we imagined a scene and thought about everything in that scene that we could hear, smell etc. I have done something similar with my class before but it was interesting to be in the place of a student instead! Jess said that she started her first book with a similar exercise, but the only bit that has survived is the line ‘Two words can get you thrown into prison in Tibet’

Her third book will be set in the swamps of Louisiana where the setting is part of the conflict in the book.

Jess was absolutely lovely and engaging! My class were really excited when I showed them the signed copy of the book – we are reading it as a class reader at the moment and I get serious groans when we reach the end of a chapter and have to put it down for a while. Jess’s agent also kindly gave me some bookmarks which I have been using as reading rewards in my class and they are extremely popular!

3pm Writing Across Cultures Workshop

Forgot to take a picture at this workshop…so have a picture of sunny Uxbridge instead!

I was particularly interested in this workshop despite not having read any of Jason Rohan‘s books yet (I have since borrowed one from the library so will remedy this soon!) All of the workshop participants also had varied backgrounds with published writers (Jacky Silvester), aspiring writers, teachers and students all joining in. Jason talked about how his family background and five years living in Japan inspired his books, particularly about how the structure of language can dictate patterns of behaviour.

One of his tips for writing about culture without info-dumping was to talk about the universalities of human experience such as language, religion, cuisine and music. Through these you can reveal a lot about your characters including their social status, etc. He also talked about the intersectionality of different identities and how identity is not just one location. As an author, you can embed culture in your story by talking about universal touchstones such as births, deaths and weddings. You can also include cultural information without being heavy-handed by including small details about routines for eating, sleeping, etc.

Another fascinating workshop!

4pm Embedding Human Rights in your fiction Workshop


This workshop was with the lovely Jo Cotterill, author of A Storm of Strawberries and A Library of Lemons, among others. Unfortunately, I think many people were wiped out by this stage of the day so I was the only one there… I had a lovely chat with Jo instead!

5pm Family, Faith and Identity Panel

The was the final panel of the day and, despite being exhausted, I enjoyed it a lot. As a result of this panel I have now picked up copies of books by Sita Brahmachari, Antonia Honeywell and Simon James Green as all the authors spoke so eloquently and passionately! Sita said that she though YA authors differed from adult authors only in that they have never lost their sense of righteous indignation at the injustices of the world. The host, Katherine Webber, talked about how powerful it can be for someone to see themselves in a book. This is something that I feel strongly about too, so I am always championing greater diversity in books. The authors talked about how YA can deal with some pretty bleak issues, yet manages to retain a sense of hope.

Finally, Alexia Casale took the stage to thank everyone for an amazing day. I will definitely be back next year and I would recommend it to everyone with even a passing interest in books!

YA Blogger Awards 2018

By this stage I was really flagging, but still had the Blogger Awards to come – a way to recognize some of the brilliant bloggers out there. It was great to finally meet a lot of these people in person after chatting over Twitter.


6.05-6.20 Vlogging panel with Champion Vlogger shortlistees Zoe Collins and Maddie & Bee

6.25-6.40 panel with our Marvellous Blogger Shortlist: JennZoe Collins and Olivia Gacka

6.45-7.00 panel on ‘blogging as a teen then growing from there’ with Champion Teen Blogger shortlistees Liv and Jess, and Best Growing Blogger (2-4 years) shortlistees Annalise and Kelly


6.05-6.30 Champion of Social Media shortlistee Michelle Toy & Champion of Diversity shortlistee Virginie La Chouett

6.30-6.55 Best Newcomer (0-2 years) shortlistees Steph Elliott and Rebecca Stobart, and Best Content & Design shortlistee Charlotte Burns


Wish I could have stayed for longer and joined the after-after party, but had to catch the last train home.


What an absolutely amazing day – if you haven’t attended before, I would definitely make it a priority next year!

What did you think?

Did any of the panels or workshops sound like your kind of thing?

Are you planning to attend YA Shot in the future?

Thanks for reading right to the end of this long post!

Find me on Twitter , Goodreads or Instagram


26 Comments Add yours

  1. Bri Ollre says:

    Seems like a wonderful conference!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was fantastic! So much crammed into just one day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely round-up. Jess Butterworth’s event sounds fantastic. Hope to join you one year. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You should definitely come down for the weekend or something! It was an amazing event but has taken me this long to digest and write about it…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beyond excited for Between the Sinking Land and the sea, and Jess’s event sounds wonderful! I’m half sad I wasn’t there and half glad because I’d probably have been so incoherent. Can you IMAGINE my level of fangirl?! So glad you had a wonderful day x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I mentioned you to her and she said hi! I was pretty nervous at the beginning of the workshop too…and not many of the participants seemed to be speaking up so I ended up talking loads, whoops! My class were incredibly excited when I told them that I had met her and I loved being able to see the travel journal with the research for Running on the Roof of the World. 🙂 You should definitely try to come to a future event!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That was so sweet of you! I probably drive poor Jess mad telling her I love her books all the time 🙈😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think, when you have poured your heart and soul into creating a book, having people say they love it would never be annoying!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I heard a story about an author who blocked someone for tweeting them saying they loved their books a lot and have lived in fear ever since! 😂 x

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I can understand why some authors don’t read reviews because they are for readers rather than authors. Don’t think I could resist if I were an author though! I don’t think anyone would ever block you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I can totally understand that too! I do tag (e.g. in today’s post, thiugh not negative ones ofc!) but I don’t care if authors choose not to read. 💜
        It’s a genuine fear that someone will 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I usually tag in a positive review (*although worry that some people see anythng below 5* as negative) but completely understand if author’s don’t engage. It’s usually the PR people who retweet, etc. For negative reviews, I just post something on Goodreads, not my blog. Really like your mini-reviews!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Lots of authors I tag engage which is super lovely, but I totally get why some don’t and I totally understand. I worry about that too, but tag 4 stars, 4.5 and 5 💜. Anything below 3 stars is just on GR for me too (and I’d never tag in a 3 or 3.5 star author to my reviews post)
        Thank you! X

        Liked by 1 person

      8. It’s funny, to me 3 stars is a positive review -it means I liked it! Maybe we should just dispense with star ratings altogether as it could change so easily dependent on the mood you’re in when you read the book!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Ooh for me it means I had mixed feelings, and more negative than positive! I do quite like star ratings though…
        It’s interesting how they mean different things to different people x

        Liked by 1 person

      10. For me, mixed feelings or more negative than poditive would be a 2. What I really need is a special gold star rating for the five star books that actually deserve ALL the stars! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      11. I’m sure we worked out before my 3 stars is your 2 stars! I definetly wish I could bestow 6/5 ratings on a few books. I give lots of books 5 because I love lots way too much not to IYSWIM, but some are even more special e.g. Jess’s books or The Children of Castle Rock most recently!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. That sounds awesome ! I wish I could attend something like that 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you can sometime! It was my first time attending an event like this but definitely not the last!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fanna says:

    I’m so glad you had so much fun but I’m slightly envious because oh my God, this must’ve been so much fun 😀 I love all the panel discussion topics and can only imagine how interesting all the conversations must’ve been. Especially the ‘writing across all cultures’ topic since I’m a PoC and it can be great to hear everyone’s insights on it. Then the book blogger awards!! Wow, that must’ve been epic; seeing all these shortlistees and awardees talk about what they know best. I loved this post ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it! It was a fantastic day and I will definitely be going again last year. Took sleeping almost all day Sunday to recover from it and then almost a month for me to finally be able to write-up about it… The writing across cultures workshop was fascinating because of the variety of experiences all of the participants brought to the table – I learned loads!


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