The morning began in the usual way, but who was to know that Brentwood would soon be visited by so many witches? And who would have guessed that for an unsuspecting member of the audience, their inner-witch was soon to be released?

That’s what happened when James Nicol came to town. From gruesome stories about Margaret Reed’s exploding heart, to the fast-paced Which Witch is Which game, James’ event was filled with fun. James then went on to speak about the other influences for The Apprentice Witch, such as WW1 tram driver uniforms and, of course, his love of reading. I don’t want to tell you anymore, in case you get the opportunity to meet James at an event and…he may put a hex on me!

What better way to end the day than with a discussion about YA books? We were very lucky to have an expert panel on hand to do just that: Dan Smith, Gemma Fowler, Molly Looby and book blogger, Josh, all took to the ‘stage’, in front of a very keen audience.

The discussion covered a whole range of subjects, including: gender, the writing process, chain bookshops, school curriculum, comics, stereotyping, film and more. All of that in an hour and a half.

It’s very difficult to pin down the highlights, but I will try. When asked ‘What does YA mean to you?’, Gemma said ‘it means creativity…pushing the boundaries and genre bending’, for Dan it’s ‘anything really; cool stories written by cool people,’ and Molly’s take was that ‘YA is freedom…there’s a young protagonist and a young tone of voice.’

And finally, this is what drives these amazing authors to do what they do:

Dan ‘Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. But stories are really important to me.’

Molly ‘It’s an addiction. I have to and when I’m not writing, I miss it.’

Gemma ‘It’s a compulsion. I love world building.’

Huge thanks to the authors of course, but also to Josh who hosted the event perfectly and to Alice Petty, who filmed the event. I’ll let you know when the film is available for viewing.

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Great event at @BwdLitFest with @gemmarfowler and @MollyLooby and awesome readers!

S finds it really inspiring to meet you all – she spends a lot of her spare time writing and so @BwdLitFest is perfect for her 🙌🏻

Had a great time with @DanSmithAuthor, @gemmarfowler, and the wonderful @ohhiimjosh at the @BwdLitFest YA panel! Thanks @chickenandfrog!

SOOOO lovely to meet @MHarrison13 today @BwdLitFest (thanks for not heckling!!)  and I got my book signed too! ❤️

loved seeing the fantastic @JamesENicol this morning and seeing my hubby @CJDavidwrites be a witch made my day 😀