Welcome to First Story’s annual celebration of writing for and by young people. This year’s digital festival mixes exclusive content for First Story schools with open-to-all events — including award-winning YA author Angie Thomas in conversation and a Young Writers Showcase MC’ed by Dean Atta. Plus check out our exclusive learning resources featuring leading authors.
Angie Thomas in Conversation
This year’s YWF headliner is the incredible Angie Thomas, author of award-winning and best-selling YA novel The Hate U Give. Angie’s first book debuted #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List and was adapted into a critically-acclaimed film. Her second novel, On the Come Up, is also a bestseller, with a film in development. In 2020, Angie released Find Your Voice: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Truth intended to help aspiring writers tell their stories. Her new novel, Concrete Rose is a prequel to The Hate U Give, returning to the world of Garden Heights.
Young Writers Showcase
MC’ed by Dean Atta
In this special showcase event, nine inspiring young writers from First Story participating schools perform their own pieces, receiving personalised feedback from best-selling YA author and poet (and former First Story Writer-in-Residence) Dean Atta.
Dean’s debut novel, The Black Flamingo won the Stonewall Book Award. His work often deals with themes of gender, identity, race and growing up. A patron of LGBT+ History Month, he has been named one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK.
Watch nine students who have taken part in First Story’s Young Writers Programme perform their own writing — with individual feedback from Dean.
Learning resources: craft and technique
Exclusive short films to inspire young writers featuring tips and advice from leading authors
Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Kiran is an award-winning poet, playwright, and best-selling novelist. Her debut novel for children The Girl of Ink & Stars won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year. Her debut YA novel The Deathless Girls was published in 2019, followed in 2020 by her first adult novel The Mercies — a Sunday Times Bestseller.
In this short film, Kiran shares tips on creating atmosphere and subverting traditional tropes.
Gemma is a London-based writer. She has written for BBC Radio 3, performed her work at the Venice Biennale, and also runs Write & Shine, a programme of morning writing workshops, events and online courses. Gemma’s short fiction collection Ways of Living is forthcoming from Influx Press in July 2021.
In this short film, Gemma shows you how to take writing inspiration from the morning.
Melvin had a variety of jobs before becoming a full-time writer. Before his first novel, he had short stories published and a play broadcast on Radio 4. He is now regarded as one of the best writers in contemporary children’s literature, having won the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for his acclaimed novel Junk.
In this short film, Melvin shares the beginning of an eerie story called Crow… what will you do with it?
Born in Florida, raised in California and now living in Texas, Hafsah‘s 2019 debut novel We Hunt The Flame was an instant New York Times best-seller. Its sequel We Free the Stars was published in 2020. Hafsah was recently named a 2021 honoree in Forbes magazine’s ‘30 Under 30’ list. She’s also the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors. Follow her on TikTok @hafsah_faizal.
In this short film, Hafsah shows you how to build a world in your writing.
Sita is an internationally award-winning author of over ten novels, short stories and plays. She has been Writer in Residence for BookTrust and Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants and is an Amnesty International Ambassador championing the rights of young people. Her latest novel is Where the River Runs Gold.
In this short film, Sita helps you to explore history, identity, family, community and belonging.
Priya is a student at Landau Forte College in Derby, a First Story partner school. She took part in our Young Writers Programme during 2019/20 and the following year was awarded a coveted Rathbone’s Folio Prize Mentorship, working with poet Kathryn Maris. Priya is a poet as well as Derby’s Deputy Youth Mayor.
In this short film, Priya takes us through lyrical lessons in response to music.
First Story schools exclusive content
Teachers’ CPD Twilight
Free. This event is exclusively for First Story participating schools — registration essential. This event will be delivered live via Zoom on 23 March 2021.
This special event for teachers, facilitated and led by acclaimed writer and teacher Rachel Seiffert, explores how to develop a writer’s mindset. Rachel’s debut novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and made into a feature film. Her second, third and fourth novels were long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her books have been published in eighteen languages. She has taught creative writing at Goldsmiths College and Glasgow University, and delivered seminars at the Humboldt University Berlin, Manchester University and the Faber Academy in London, amongst others. She’s a returning tutor at the Arvon Foundation as well as a First Story Writer-in-Residence.
Live Writing Workshops
Free. This event is exclusively for First Story participating schools — registration essential. This event will be delivered live via schools’ preferred digital platform on 24 March 2021.
All workshops sessions will be facilitated by writers from First Story’s Writer-in-Residence community, whose expertise spans prose, playwriting, poetry and performance. Current First Story creative writing groups are encouraged to take up this exclusive opportunity to work with and learn from a new and different professional practitioner. We will work with each registered school to allocate a writer and shape your workshop session to your students’ needs and interests.