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Books that captivate young people and immerse us in their worlds have always been an effective channel to propel the experiences of young people into the wider popular conscious. What does this mean for authors from BAME backgrounds writing about their communities today? Panellists include Muhammad Khan, author of ‘I Am Thunder’, S.K. Ali, author of ‘Saints and Misfits’ and SF Said, author of ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Varjak Paw’.  Chaired by Sarah Shaffi, freelance journalist and co-founder of BAME in Publishing.

Muhammad Khan
Muhammad Khan is a maths teacher in a secondary school in Tooting and takes his inspiration from the children he teaches, as well as his own upbringing as a British-born Pakistani. He lives in South London and will be studying for a creative writing MA next year at Roehampton.

S. K. Ali
S.K. Ali is a teacher based in Toronto whose writing on Muslim culture and life has appeared in the Toronto Star. Her family of Muslim scholars is consistently listed in the The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, and her insight into Muslim culture is both personal and far-reaching. A mother of a teenage daughter herself, S.K. Ali’s debut YA novel is a beautiful and nuanced story about a young woman exploring her identity through friendship, family, and faith.

SF Said
SF is a British Muslim children’s author of Middle Eastern background.  His first book, Varjak Paw, won the Smarties Prize for Children’s Literature.  It has sold half a million copies worldwide and been translated into a dozen languages.  The sequel, The Outlaw Varjak Paw, won the BBC Blue Peter Book Of The Year; while his third book, Phoenix, represents the UK on the IBBY International Honour Book List, and was shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award.  He has written widely on children’s and young adult literature for both the Guardian and Daily Telegraph. He tweets at @whatSFSaid

Sarah Shaffi
Sarah Shaffi is the former online editor and producer at The Bookseller, the UK publishing industry’s trade magazine. In 2016, she co-founded networking group BAME in Publishing, a regular meet up for people from ethnic minorities working in UK publishing. Sarah is now editor-at-large at Little Tiger, reviews books for Stylist Magazine online and regularly chairs author events. She can be found tweeting @sarahshaffi.