The YA One (Part 5): 23/08/16

Yep, that’s right. Like Backstreet and scrunchies, we’re BACK. On August 23rd,  we’ve got another dreamy line-up of brilliant UKYA authors – there’ll be readings, cocktails and two short stories created on the spot on a theme chosen by the audience. It’s going to be great!

LAURE EVE is the author of Fearsome Dreamer, The Illusionists, and now international smasher, The Graces. She’s also a Speakeasy favourite and when it comes to the Short Story Challenge, she is not to be messed with.

JESS VALLANCE’s debut novel, Birdy, was published last year to great and deserved acclaim. Her second, The Yellow Room, is released this month and sounds ace.

SARRA MANNING is a teen queen extraordinaire. Once a writer and editor at J17, she’s since written about a million great books, for both teenagers and adults, most recently the brilliant London Belongs To Us.

SUE WALLMAN’s debut novel, Lying About Last Summer, was published by Scholastic in May and is already receiving praise from all over the shop. We can’t wait to hear her read from it.

They’ll be there (we’re so excited about that) – we’d love it if you were too. Entry’s free, just email to reserve a table.

Tuesday 23rd August, Drink Shop Do. Doors open at 7, first reading’s at 8 (don’t be late!)


Episode 27: 21/10/15

It’s that time again. Our favourite time of all the times.

Yes, October’s Speakeasy is another super-special YA extravaganza. There’ll be the usual cocktails and silliness; the all-important Story Challenge (flash fiction crafted on the spot on a theme chosen by you); a ridiculous playlist of Twenties jazz and Nineties hip-hop.

But most importantly of all, there’ll be readings from these guys:

JAMES DAWSON is the multi award-winning author of dark teen thrillers HOLLOW PIKE, CRUEL SUMMER, SAY HER NAME and UNDER MY SKIN. He has also written the excellent non-fiction titles BEING A BOY, THIS BOOK IS GAY and MIND YOUR HEAD. James is a regular contributor to Attitude Magazine, GT and The Guardian and has contributed to news items on BBC Women’s Hour, Front Row, This Morning and Newsnight concerning sexuality, identity, literature and education. As if all that wasn’t enough, his first contemporary romance, ALL OF THE ABOVE, was published last month.

NICOLE BURSTEIN wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember, but in an attempt to follow her family’s advice has sought many different professions since graduating — including Toy Demonstrator at Hamleys, Visitor Guide at the London Eye, Audience Researcher on the X Factor, Phone Producer at Classic FM and Travel Broadcaster on various London radio stations. None of these jobs quite fit, so in 2009 Nicole quit her latest job in PR and went to do her Masters Degree in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College whilst working part-time as a children’s bookseller. OTHERGIRL is her debut novel.

SARAH PINBOROUGH is a critically acclaimed horror, thriller and YA author. She’s written short stories, novels, scripts and basically ALL of the things. She was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. Her published work, almost all of which is optioned for TV or film adaptation, includes the stunning novella The Language of Dying, THE DOG FACED GODS series, THE HIDDEN KINGDOM series, THE NOWHERE CHRONICLES (as Sarah Silverwood) and two standalone novels: THE DEATH HOUSE and THIRTEEN MINUTES.

NATASHA FARRANT is the author of the Carnegie-longlisted and Branford Boase-shortlisted YA historical novel The Things We Did For Love, as well as two successful adult novels. Natasha was shortlisted for the Queen of Teen Award 2014, and the second of her Bluebell Gadbsy books, Flora in Love, was longlisted for the Guardian Children’s Prize. She was born and lives in London, and works as a literary scout, specialising in children’s and young adult fiction, for publishers all over the world.

Join us, and that wonderful lot, at Drink Shop Do on Wednesday 21st. Doors open at 7, so come early and get a good spot before the first reading at 8. Or, hey, you can be super ahead of the game and book a table:

Oh and if you’re a blogger and you fancy a seat at our bloggers’ table (there are sweets! and other lovely bloggers!) then drop us a line:

Episode 26: 16/09/15

Let’s face it. Autumn is here. And we’re celebrating — with our very exciting September Speakeasy.

As the cooler evenings draw in, join us in a warm and cosy darkened basement. There’ll be delicious cocktails, brand new short stories crafted against the clock for you on a theme of your choosing, and readings from these extremely excellent authors:

BENJAMIN WOOD‘s debut novel, THE BELLWETHER REVIVALS, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Book Prize, the Waverton Good Read Award, and won one of France’s foremost literary awards, Le Prix du Roman Fnac in 2014. His second novel, THE ECLIPTIC, was published in July, and called ‘exhilarating, earthy, cerebral, frank and unflinching’ by the Independent.

BETH MILLER has been a sex educator, alcohol counsellor, university lecturer and inept audio-typist. She is the author of the acclaimed WHEN WE WERE SISTERS (which the Daily Mail said was ‘intelligent and sharply observed’), and her second novel, THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR, publishes this month. Her non-fiction guide, FOR THE LOVE OF THE ARCHERS, comes out next month, too.

JASON HEWITT is a novelist, playwright and actor. His first full-length play, Claustrophobia, premiered at Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 and his first novel, THE DYNAMITE ROOM (‘Accomplished, resonant and surprising’ — the Guardian), was published by Simon & Schuster in the same year. It was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize for New Writing and the Authors’ Club First Novel Award. His second novel, DEVASTATION ROAD, was published earlier this summer.

They’ll be there, and it’d be just wonderful if you were too. Drink, Shop & Do, Wednesday 16th September, free from 7pm. The first reading’s at 8, so be there by then!

Reserve a table:

Episode 25: 19/08/15

Phew. After a double-take June and a July off, it’s time to get back to our regularly scheduled Speakeasy programming. Hooray!

On August 19th, we’ll be back at wonderful Drink, Shop & Do.

As usual, there’ll be delicious cocktails, a little waffling, and the infamous Short Story Challenge — two pieces of off-the-cuff literary wonder created on a theme chosen by you. You can’t choose ‘Pugs and sperm’ though, because someone picked that last time. Seriously.

And, most importantly, there’ll be readings from these super-talented authors:

IRENOSEN OKOJIE was born in Nigeria and moved to England aged eight. Her short stories have been published in the US, Africa and the UK. Her first novel, BUTTERFLY FISH, is published by Jacaranda Books, and the Evening Standard called it ‘richly spun… peppered with moments of magical realism’.

JON TECKMAN wrote his debut novel by drawing on his own experiences in the film industry. ORDINARY JOE — a ‘brilliant, fast-paced comedy about life behind the scenes in the film business, and how to survive when your greatest fantasy comes true and threatens to wreck your perfectly ordinary life’ — was published by The Borough Press in July, and was Lovereading’s debut of the month.

SARA MARSHALL-BALL worked as a proofreader of gravestones to support herself through her MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Sussex, during which she wrote much of her debut novel HUSH (out now from Myriad). Lesley Thompson had this to say about it: ‘Poignant and suspenseful… this intriguing story of how a childhood trauma affects two adult sisters entirely absorbed me.’

They’ll be there, and it’d be marvellous if you were too — Drink Shop Do, Wednesday 19th August, free entry from 7. The first reading will be at 8 so don’t be later than that! Reserve yourself one of the good tables:

A Very Special Speakeasy

Shhh. We have a little secret to tell you.

So, normally, Speakeasy happens one time every month, at lovely Drink Shop Do.

But sometimes, once in a brilliant blue moon, so many great books come out that we just have to go off-piste. And this is one of those times.

Because on the 24th of June, we are having a super special YA Speakeasy and we are TOO EXCITED ABOUT IT. There will be cocktails, silliness and books to buy. And, most importantly, readings from these OMG-SO-BRILLIANT-CAN’T-DEAL authors:

E LOCKHART is the author of all kinds of incredible books for children and young adults, including the game-changing WE WERE LIARS and the more-girl-power-than-Beyoncé THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS. Born and raised in the States, she’s here, for one night only, to promote her amazing new collaboration,  HOW TO BE BAD.

LAURA DOCKRILL is a performance poet, author, illustrator and short story writer. As well as writing her hilarious and perfect Darcy Burdock series, she’s about to launch her deliciously dark YA debut, LORALI: mermaids and pirates and language to linger over… Yes. Please.

JAMES P SMYTHE is the author of too many brilliant books to name; we like to call him Sir Writes-A-Lot. We also call him a straight-up hands-down genius. And now his debut YA novel, WAY DOWN DARK, is about to hit shelves, and we. Can’t. Wait. He has been shortlisted for and won any number of prizes, including The Kitschies Red Tentacles and the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and he has also lost the Speakeasy Story Challenge twice. Third time’s a charm!

NON PRATT‘s debut novel, TROUBLE, was critically acclaimed and unbelievably awesome, as well as being deservedly shortlisted for both the YA Book Prize and the Branford Boase. And now she’s back with REMIX, a novel about friendship and festivals that’s already causing quite the stir. Non previously worked as an editor at Usbourne and we have all of the love for her.

Now, they’re going to be there – will you? This bit’s important, because it’s different to normal:

Clerkenwell & Social, free from 7pm. We feel it also essential to tell you that between 5 and 8pm, it’s 2-4-1 on some delicious literary themed cocktails*. On a related note, we’re afraid this event is for over-18s only – sorry to disappoint!

Please let us know you’re coming, so we can save you a place:

*Two of the same cocktail for the price of one, rather than a mix and match situation.

Episode 23: 09/06/15

It’s time to tell you about our June episode of Speakeasy. We are extremely happy about this one.

As always, there’ll be delicious cocktails, super special short stories crafted on the spot, and general silliness. But, most importantly, readings from these wonderful authors:

LAURA BARNETT is an arts journalist and theatre critic, and her debut novel, THE VERSIONS OF US, published this month by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, is already creating quite the stir. With rights sold in 14 territories and a TV adaptation already in the works, it’s no wonder she was selected as one of the Observer’s New Faces of Fiction.

STARK HOLBORN is a small time liquor bootlegger, purveyor of Penny Westerns and author of NUNSLINGER. Said to hail from Wichita, KS, Stark drifts between continents like a scrap of bison hide on the breeze, and is currently thought to be residing somewhere near Bristol.

LEIGH RUSSELL writes the internationally bestselling Geraldine Steel series of psychological crime thrillers, and has been hailed as ‘a brilliant talent’ by Jeffery Deaver and ‘one to watch’ by Lee Child. As well as garnering about a million rave reviews and being shortlisted pretty much everywhere, Leigh’s books have been optioned for a TV adaptation by Avalon.

FRANCES MENSAH WILLIAMS was born in Ghana and, in 2011, voted one of the Top 20 Inspirational Females from the African Diaspora in Europe. She is the author of several non-fiction titles, and now her debut novel, FROM PASTA TO PIGFOOT: ‘a powerful story of identity and self-love and empowerment’.

They’ll be there – although it’s hard to imagine how we’re going to cram quite so much talent into one room – will you be too? Tuesday 9th June, Drink Shop Do, free entry from 7pm. The first reading’s at 8 – don’t be late. To reserve a table, email

Episode 22: What Happened

What a delight our May Speakeasy was. We simply couldn’t have asked for a better set of authors, or a more varied, enthralling selection of readings.

First up was Jo Bloom, reading from her wonderful debut, RIDLEY ROAD, which you can and should buy here. She was followed by Colin MacIntyre, also reading from his debut, the brilliant THE LETTERS OF IVOR PUNCH. Go and buy that here; you really ought to.

At this point we went to the break. But before we did that, we had the pivotal matter of the Story Challenge to sort out. We asked the audience to suggest a theme for our authors to do some off-the-cuff writing on. After a bit of bullying from Ian, and some liberal interpretation of a couple of suggestions, we had our options: poltergeists; a Wham! reunion; Ed Miliband wondering why he got married (with thanks to Colin’s Uncle Eric, who essentially made the evening).

That thing happened again. The thing where we have some clear choices, and in the process of orchestrating that choice, Ian manages to change it at the eleventh hour.

So our theme this month ended up as: Why do sailors dream of Ed Miliband?

A timely and timeless question, we’re sure you’ll agree.

We went off in our teams and wrote two pretty excellent pieces of fiction about just that. But before it was time to reveal those, there was the second half to sit back and enjoy.

Up first was Claire Fuller, reading two extracts from her beautiful first novel, OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS. Go on, treat yourself: right here. And closing the show was our (squeal!) Pulitzer-prize winning guest from the States, Robert Olen Butler, who basically bowled us all over with a reading from his new novel, THE STAR OF ISTANBUL. Do the smart thing, pick it up here.

And if all that wasn’t enough, there was just time for Ian and Nicci to read the masterpieces their teams had created under Challenge conditions. These efforts will be shared with you now. Prepare to be dazzled.

TEAM CLOKE (Cloke, Bloom, MacIntyre)

I’m talking to you now from the bottom of the ocean. I’m trying to keep hold of this last soggy picture of Emperor Ed. As I look down, I see a sturgeon has got hold of my balls.

I’m struggling to remember how I got here. Last Christmas, I was drinking Prosecco in my brand-new second galley, which I had built after I heard about Ed’s second kitchen. I was careless with my whispers; I invited too many people to see it. Too many people ordered salmon, and the ship – my pride and joy, ‘The Miliband The Younger’ – went down.

But I find I’m happy here; it suits me. I dress only in seaweed and red roses; it’s Freedom, a Hebridean Club Tropicana. Just me and my picture of Ed, sleeping with the fishes. 

TEAM ELLARD (Ellard, Fuller, Olen Butler)

‘You’re down on Spring Break are you, sweetie? I noticed you looking at my long, grey beard. You know what they say about men with long grey beards… they have looooong grey dreams. You wanna hear my dream? I had this dream 15,000 times, you know that? But let me tell you about the first time. You look cute when you yawn.

‘It was May 8th, 2015 – before you were born, I’ll bet. We were bound for Miami on an old steamer named ‘The Maker’s Mark’, when I met a man called Ed. Ed Miliband was his name.

‘ “I’m headed for Tallahassee,” he said, taking a bite of his bacon sandwich. “There’s an antebellum plantation house there, haunted by a poltergeist that plays Wham! records in the middle of the night. I would literally rather be there than Britain right now.”

“Oh right,” I said.

‘Just then, the wind dropped. I heard a “Fuck” from the Captain. “Doldrums!” he cried. “Fuck!”

‘That night, I dreamt of Ed Miliband. He had won. And Britain was thus:

‘The railways were nationalised; minimum wage was £25 an hour; NHS waiting lists fell to 90 seconds; Michael Gove’s GCSEs were revoked; the Queen took a job at Tesco’s – on just £25 an hour –

‘Doesn’t that sound great?’

‘Umm,’ said the undeveloped co-ed character in the bar. ‘What’s an Ed Miliband?’

We put it to a vote. It was a narrow majority, but a narrow one’s all you need, guys – Team Cloke won.

Which takes the score to 11-9, with everything to play for.

And play for it we will, at our next show on June 9th. See you there?

Episode 22: 12/05/15

We’re extra excited about this one.

Yes, Spring has sprung and May’s Speakeasy is packed with some very special authors. Plus, you know, the usual – cakes, cocktails (from DSD’s brand-spanking-new cocktail menu) and a couple of off-the-cuff stories written on the spot on a theme chosen by you.

And, most importantly, readings by these guys:

CLAIRE FULLER is a novelist and short fiction writer. She began writing fiction at the age of 40, after many years working as a co-director of a marketing agency. Her first novel, OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS, is published in the UK by Fig Tree / Penguin, by House of Anansi in Canada, Tin House in the US, and a whole bunch of other countries. She lives in Winchester with her husband and two children.

COLIN MACINTYRE is an award-winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer who has released six albums to date, most notably under the name Mull Historical Society, achieving two Top 20 albums and four Top 40 singles. He is the co-author of a Radio 4 Afternoon Play, and has collaborated with Tony Benn and Irvine Welsh.  And as if all that wasn’t impressive enough, his debut novel, THE LETTERS OF IVOR PUNCH, is published this month.

JO BLOOM was inspired to write her debut novel, RIDLEY ROAD, when she met a Jewish anti-fascist who’d lived in the East End all his life and participated in numerous street battles with the fascists alongside both the 43 Group and the 62 Group. Realising it was a tale which hadn’t been told before in literature, she set to work – and RIDLEY ROAD was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2014. She lives in Brighton with her husband and son.

ROBERT OLEN BUTLER is the author of 12 novels and six short story collections, including A GOOD SCENT FROM A STRANGE MOUNTAIN, which won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (!!!! SO AMAZING!). He has been a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. He served in the Vietnam War as a counter-intelligence special agent and a translator, and the Guardian said of his Pulitzer win that he had ‘changed the composition [of Vietnam-related fiction] forever’.

They’ll be there and we’d love it if you were too – Drink Shop Do, Tuesday 12th May, free from 7pm (the first reading’s at 8; don’t be late!)

Episode 21: The Open Mic One (14/04/15)

Oooh. This is something new.

For our twenty-first show, we’re opening things up a bit. Okay, a lot. Anyone and everyone – the published, the unpublished, the aspiring and the just-doing-it-cos-I-like-its – can come and read, and they can read whatever the heck they want: poetry, prose, essays, limericks. Whatever.

What we can promise you: an eager and welcoming audience, a microphone and three minutes in which to show us what you got.

What we need from you: YOU. Just you and your notebook. You can just sign up on the night (doors open at 7) OR, if you want to be super-organised (and we admire super-organised), you can email us at to guarantee yourself a slot.

So, the essentials: Tuesday 14th April, Drink Shop Do, 7pm. Bring yourself, bring your mates, bring your words.

We can’t wait.

Episode 20: Beginnings After The End (10/03/15)

Very exciting news: Episode 20 is an End of the World special, with five – yes, FIVE – very special readers. Pandemics, disasters and the collapse of civilisation – plus a shedload of cocktails, and of course, brand-new stories created off-the-cuff on a theme chosen by you. All topped off with the loveliest of guest hosts, Sir James Smythe. (He’s not really a Sir. BUT HE SHOULD BE.)

M. R. CAREY is an established British writer of both novels and comic books, with several New York Times best-selling graphic novels and one Hollywood movie screenplay to his credit. He is now also the author of the brilliant THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, which he wrote simultaneously as a novel and as a screenplay.

FRANCESCA HAIG is a writer, academic and tea-drinker, whose poetry has been widely published, and whose debut novel THE FIRE SERMON, the first in a trilogy has been described as ‘The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road‘.

ANTONIA HONEYWELL’s debut novel THE SHIP has been called a ‘a rites-of-passage novel, a love story, and a high-concept thriller’. She’s been writing all her life, and has worked at the Natural History Museum and, for ten years, as a teacher.

JOHN IRONMONGER is a writer, a zoologist, and someone who dabbles in healthcare IT. He is the author of THE NOTABLE BRAIN OF MAXIMILIAN PONDER, THE COINCIDENCE AUTHORITY and of NOT FORGETTING THE WHALE.

SARAH PINBOROUGH is a critically acclaimed award-winning thriller, horror and YA author who has had more than ten novels published. Her latest THE DEATH HOUSE has been called ‘thoughtful, rich and heart-stopping novel of life, love, and living in the face of death.’

They’ll be there, and so must you: Drink Shop Do,  March 10th, free from 7pm. Book a table to get the best ones: