Big Bang YA Mentoring course with author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, Lauren James.

This course is designed for writers of YA fiction, who are already competent in the basics of writing craft, but wish to elevate their work to the next level. 

It is a demanding, intense course which will require a huge degree of commitment from everyone who gets a place. But like pressure and heat does to graphite, you too can produce a diamond.

And we have added the something extra – feedback on your submission package from a top agent – read below to find out more!

We are also not doing our usual application process and instead places are available on a first come, first serve basis, so sign up now to secure your place.


Start date: 19th April 2021
End date: 12th July 2021

Cost: £600
We require a non-refundable £60 deposit to be paid at time of booking onto the course. Ideally, the rest would be paid at the start of the course. However, payment plans can be arranged on request – do speak to Stuart if this is needed.

Tutor: Lauren James

Course organiser/liaison: Florianne Humphrey

Max number of students: 8

Time commitment
Approx 10 hours a week – this is an intense course and you should only apply if you feel you can commit this time for the duration of the course.

Mechanics of feedback
The students will send 3 x 5000 word extracts to Lauren for critique and also post 3 x 5000 word extracts for their 7 peers to critique. Students may chose to have the same extracts reviewed by both Lauren and their peers, or they can choose to post different ones.

You will submit 3 extracts to Lauren:

– Round 1: 1st 5K submitted – due 19th April 2021.

– Round 2: 2nd 5K submitted – due 17th May 2021.

– Round 3: 3rd 5k submitted – due 14th June 2021.

Lauren will also review your query letter if you are at this stage.

Each student will also get a 1-2-1 consultation with Lauren during the second half of the course to discuss progress, strengths, development areas and moving forward. 
Please note that Lauren will also ask to see a 1500 word outline of the whole story and will give you feedback on this outline and our students have all found this extremely worthwhile. However if you don’t have this, don’t worry.

Every fortnight, Lauren will produce a set of craft notes of a variety of writing topics. The course notes will use examples taken from Lauren’s published writing to illustrate the lessons.

  2. The Importance of Outlines (or, How to Break Down A Plot)
  3. Agent submission, query letters and pitching
  4. Working with publishers
  5. Money
  6. Characters
  7. Building Emotional Resonance 
  8. FAQ

Tutorials: Lauren will hold two ‘open’ tutorials during the course, where you can come along and pick her brain, chat about writing more generally or specifically and ask her anything! 


Agent input:
Hannah Sheppard, Director and Literary Agent at DHH Literary agency, will read your query letter, synopsis and first 3 chapters towards the end of the course, and will give feedback to help guide you when you begin to query agents.


Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the Carnegie-nominated British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World and The Next Together series.

She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university.

Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone, and been translated into five languages worldwide. She has been described as ‘Gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘A strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly.

Her other novels include The Last Beginning, named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent, and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, which was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. The Quiet at the End of the World considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future.

Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books and in the US by HarperCollins. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the GuardianBuzzfeed, Den of GeekThe Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2020. She lectures at the University of Cambridge and Coventry University, and works with Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.