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UKYAX - The Lowdown

UKYA Extravaganza –

The Lowdown from Kat Ellis and Rhian IvoryKat and Rhian with Gary Meehan

(Kat and Rhian pictured with Gary Meehan,

author of True Fire and True Dark.)


UKYA Extravaganza was an event organised by authors Emma Pass and Kerry Drewery, held for the first time this year on 28th February, and featured 33 YA authors from across the UK. 


Two of Firefly’s YA authors, Kat Ellis (Blackfin Sky – out now) and Rhian Ivory (The Boy Who Drew the Future – coming September 2015) took part in the event in Birmingham City Centre. Here’s what they had to say about it:


The event


Kat: Having sold out of all tickets within 24 hours of going on sale, the venue was packed with people eager to share their love of UK YA books. Most of the authors took part in quick panel rounds, and there was plenty of opportunity to chat with readers and bloggers in between panels. I talked very briefly about Blackfin Sky during my panel session, and was really pleased that all the copies Waterstones had in stock sold out right away!


Rhian: I arrived late for the event due to the lovely taxi driver who when I asked him if he could take me to Waterstones on the High Street answered “No!” in a very chirpy voice. He did offer to take me to Waterstones on New Street which was really sweet but you know…not all that useful. As power running is not my forte I was just in time to see the rope pulled back to release the bloggers and customers. Stampede springs to mind, I had to stand back to let teenagers run up the steps to the fourth floor. This really set the tone for the whole afternoon. The room was alive with love for YA and literature in general as authors gathered in groups of three and four to pitch their books in less than a minute, give a short reading and answer some great questions from the audience. An egg timer was introduced as we all know how much writers like to talk once they get going.




(All the UKYAX authors - Can you spot Kat and Rhian?)


The books


Rhian: During the breaks (for cake) authors, readers, bloggers, friends and family mingled, chatted, signed books, bought books and stroked books (I know I wasn’t the only one!). There were some lovely table displays of UKYAX author’s books, a whole table dedicated to swag and of course the cake table. Kat’s book sold out pretty quickly and everyone secretly wanted to take one of her beautiful Blackfin Sky posters but were too polite and picked up her gorgeous bookmarks instead (self included!). I suddenly remembered that I had a whole list of books I wanted to buy and get signed, which I just managed before getting called to do my panel event. I’d already worked my way through quite a lot of the UKYAX books (it is such a hard job!) but I didn’t have copies of Susie Day’s My Invisible Boyfriend, Caroline Green’s Fragments and Hilary Freeman’s Loving Danny so I grabbed those before they sold out too. 


Kat: With 35 authors on the bill (2 were unable to attend on the day), and some with multiple books, I didn't quite manage to read them all before the event. But I devoured a good few, and took some along to get signed. Some of my favourites were Claire Furniss's The Year of the Rat, Kendra Leighton's Glimpse, Sarah Naughton’s The Hanged Man Rises, and Emma Haughton's Now You See Me. I am really looking forward to reading more, especially Minty by Christina Banach, and Rhian's The Boy Who Drew the Future, of course! 


C J Daugherty signing Kat's copy of Night School  Kate Ormand  

C J Daugherty signing Kat's copy of Night School and Kate Ormand, author of Dark Days, talking about her writing.

Robin Stevens author of Murder Most Unladylike  Rhian Ivory talking about The Boy who Drew the Future

Robin Stevens reading from Arsenic and Tea, the sequel to Murder Most Unladylike, and Rhian talking about The Boy who Drew the Future.


The people


Rhian: I spent most of the time wandering around peering at people’s name badges and faces to see if the twitter/facebook person matched the real life person. It was such a joy to be able to meet so many people in real life and talk about their book, their blog and what they’d just bought. I even managed to squeeze in some conversations about writing courses, Arvon and how to survive the submissions process (not easy). I was so pleased that Keren David (lovely AND organised) sorted out some cards and gifts for the dynamic duo, Emma Pass and Kerry Drewery, who were still smiling by the end of the afternoon. What a wonderful idea to gather a room full of people who love books, want to talk (a lot) about books and buy books. Waterstones staff looked rushed off their feet! 

Kat: It was wonderful to get to chat to bloggers and authors who I've known online for ages (and I agree with Rhian – little badges with Twitter avatars on would definitely have been helpful!) as well as folks who I was meeting for the first time. A couple I was especially thrilled to catch up with were the lovely Rosie from EatReadGlam, who kindly hosted my UKYAX blog tour post, and Luna from Luna’s Little Library, who wrote my first ever Blackfin Sky review! The atmosphere there was amazing, and everyone seemed so excited to talk about their favourite UK YA books, ones they were looking forward to reading, and how great it was to have so many UK authors at one event. I definitely feel the inaugural UKYA Extravaganza was a huge success, and I’m honoured that I got to take part.

Rhian: Emma and Kerry have really set the bar very high for any future events but after talking to all the bloggers and readers at UKYAX although this might have been the first event it most certainly won’t be the last! 


UKYAX organisers Emma Pass and Kerry Drewery  

Event organisers Emma Pass, author of Acid and The Fearless, and Kerry Drewery, author of A Dream of Lights and A Brighter Fear.






Were you at the event on 28th February? Have you read any of the books by the authors featured? Tweet us or let us know on Facebook.