Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators




Alex Wheatle
Author Keynote
Jim Field
Illustrator Keynote
  Darren Chetty
Industry Keynote
Darren Chetty is a lecturer at University College London, who taught in primary schools for twenty years. Darren is an award-winning Philosophy for Children practitioner.  His essay ‘You Can’t Say That! Stories Have to be About White People’ was included in the The Good Immigrant (2016), edited by Nikesh Shukla. He is the co-author of How To Disagree and co-editor of Critical Philosophy of Race and Education and Welsh (Plural).

Darren has written for children and young adults. He is co-author of What is Masculinity? Why Does it Matter? And Other Big Questions and a contributor to The Mab: Eleven Epic Stories from the Mabinogi. He has judged the YA Book Prize, The Little Rebels Award, The Blue Peter Book Award and advised on the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards. He is a member of the Steering Committee for CLPE Reflecting Realities research and for the Lit In Colour Campaign. Darren co-writes, with Karen Sands-O’Connor, Beyond the Secret Garden, a regular column on the representation of racially minoritised people in British children’s literature for the online, free periodical Books for Keeps. A book based on these columns is scheduled for publication in late 2023. Darren tweets @rapclassroom

  Karen Sands O’Connor
Industry Keynote
Karen Sands-O’Connor is the British Academy Global Professor of Children’s Literature at Newcastle University, where she recently taught the UK’s first postgraduate module on Children’s Literature and Black Britain.  An internationally-recognised expert on Black British children’s literature, Sands-O’Connor works with national organisations, including Seven Stories, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and the British Library on issues of diversity.  In addition to her most recent academic monograph, Children’s Publishing and Black Britain 1965-2015 (Palgrave 2017), she writes a regular column for Books for Keeps and contributes to the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s Reflecting Realities reports.
  2020 list starts here Arabella Stein
A fast thinker and reactor, Arabella is able to inspire and encourage artists and publishers. She recognizes that setting up the best collaboration between a publisher and an artist is key.
At The Bright Agency, Arabella represents illustrators and authors both established and at the beginning of their careers, and she is particularly drawn to artwork with an immediate and unforgettable impact; individual, yet relatable characters and a narrative that shows and never tells.
Bethany Sparks
Beth has been an agent at Plum Pudding for 2 years and has learnt a great amount about children’s publishing during her time with the agency. She studied Graphic and Communication Design at the University of Leeds and has a background in designing for children. Her favourite part about being an agent is working closely with illustrators to develop their style and ideas into artwork that publishers just can’t resist!
Beverley Birch
Beverley’s new novel, KISIRI, will be published in February 2019 by Guppy books. Her novels range over time-travel, mystery-thrillers, ghost stories, and adventures and are set in Italy, Scotland and East Africa. She also writes picture books, biographies, narrative non-fiction, re-tellings of folk tales and classic works, and collaborations with her husband, photographer Nick Birch. Critically acclaimed, and translated into more than a dozen language, she has been nominated for the Carnegie medal, and shortlisted for awards here and abroad.

Twitter: @bevbirchauthor
Bridget Marzo
Bridget Marzo is an award-winning illustrator, author and artist of over 25 picture and novelty books for US, UK, Australian and French publishers. As the very first SCBWI International Illustrator Coordinator, based in France for over two decades, she also co-hosted SCBWI conferences including at the Bologna Book Fair, where she ran the very first ‘First Look’ panels. Now based in London, her latest UK book, Tiz and Ott’s Big Draw (Tate) continues to inspire children and adults, to draw and paint themselves out of holes.

Bella Pearson
After completing an MA in children’s literature and working in an independent children’s bookshop, Bella has worked in children’s publishing for over twenty years, seventeen of those spent in a variety of guises at David Fickling Books in Oxford. She started out helping create the DFB list from David’s kitchen table – and now is incredibly excited to be at her own kitchen table building up an eclectic and entertaining list of books as independent publisher, Guppy Books. 

Titles she previously acquired and edited include The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne, Before I Die by Jenny Downham, The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson and Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd; Bone Talk by Candy Gourlay, King Coo by Adam Stower and Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss.

She has won the Branford Boase Award once and been shortlisted five times, and spent three years working as a mentor at The Golden Egg Academy, as well as editing for many children’s publishers including Puffin, Chicken House and Oxford University Press.

    Benjamin Scott
Benjamin loves nearly every part of the editorial process – both as a writer and an editor, he believes it’s where stories get life breathed into them. Benjamin has written over eleven published books, working with book packagers Working Partners and educational specialists Oxford Primary. He’s taught creative writing across a range of age groups and settings, from online courses with the Oxford University Continuing Education Department to real-life workshops in schools and colleges. He also coaches and advises other writers through his critiquing and editorial service. and @Benjamin_Scott
 Becky Bagnell
Becky Bagnell is the founder of the Lindsay Literary Agency and has been in publishing for over 20 years. She worked as a commissioning editor at Macmillan before setting up as a literary agent in 2008. Becky’s clients have been published in multiple languages across the world and include the 2018 World Book Day author, Pamela Butchart and award-winning writers, Sue Wallman and Sam Gayton.
Aimée Felone


Aimée Felone is co-founder of newly launched Knights Of – a commercial children’s publisher focused on hiring diversely and commissioning writers and illustrators from a diverse range of backgrounds. She is a supportive and engaged voice within the industry, and is committed to promoting inclusivity and diversity.
  Selom Sunu
Selom Sunu is a London-based Illustrator and Character Designer. He is the illustrator of five Jason Reynolds books including Ghost which was published in February this year.
  Davinia Andrew-Lynch
Founded by Davinia Andrew-Lynch, ANDLYN. is a boutique agency dedicated to finding storytellers whose material can not only exist on the page but can also find an outlet through other media territories.
The agency welcomes queries from children’s writers of both fiction and non-fiction, across the ages.
  Lucas Maxwell
Raised in Nova Scotia, Lucas has been working with teens in Libraries for ten years. In 2013 he became the Librarian at Glenthorne High School in Sutton, Surrey. He writes for Book Riot and has in the past contributed to School Library Journal. In 2017 he was fortunate enough to be named the UK’s School Librarian of the Year.
  Elizabeth McDonald
Elizabeth has been working for Wokingham Borough Libraries, as a Reader Development Officer for Young People and Families since 2005. Her role lets her interact with children of all age ranges. Being creative and inventive with books and sharing stories is at the heart of all of this and knowing what authors, series and genres to read and recommend to children and adults alike is essential. She had the privilege of being a Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Judge for two years and has been a judge for The Branford Boase Award. Elizabeth loves discovering new and exciting stories to share with children.


  Alice Williams
Alice set up her specialist children’s agency, Alice Williams Literary, in 2018 after representing children’s books for over ten years at David Higham Associates. She is looking for stand-out picture book texts, young fiction, middle-grade and YA, as well as non-fiction projects for all ages. She also represents illustrators.
  Gemma Coooper
Gemma Cooper started her publishing career in New York, and has been lucky enough to live and work in Chicago and London since then, an experience that has given her a global approach to agenting. She joined the Bent Agency in 2012 where she works with authors and author/illustrators based all over the world who write for every age of children – from picture books to young adult, fiction and non-fiction. Gemma has a soft spot for all types of middle grade fiction, young adult romance, funny chapter books and any book with a big hook that can be summed up in one line. Gemma enjoys working with SCBWI members.
  Amber Caraveo
Amber Caravéo is the co-founder of Skylark Literary, a boutique literary agency that seeks and supports the very best in Children’s and YA fiction. Prior to founding Skylark, Amber was the Editorial Director for Orion Children’s Books, where she was privileged to work with a host of prize-winning and bestselling authors including Caroline Lawrence, Juno Dawson and Holly Black. Before that she was Senior Commissioning Editor for Random House Children’s Books after many happy years at Working Partners, where, among other things, she edited and developed the million-copy-selling series phenomenon, Rainbow Magic. After so many years working for major trade publishers, Amber is ideally placed to negotiate with them on behalf of her authors. She is particularly looking for talented new voices, and Skylark specializes in offering a bespoke service tailor-made to each author’s individual needs.

Joanna Moult
Joanna is co-founder of Skylark Literary Limited, a specialist Children’s and YA literary agency. She began her publishing career at Hodder Children’s Books editing fantastic authors including Cressida Cowell, Alex Shearer and Kes Gray as well as creating fiction for brands such as Felicity Wishes. Jo left to cover maternity leave, running the Children’s Editorial Department at Simon & Schuster Children’s Books editing Sophie McKenzie’s stunning debut novel GIRL, MISSING and the YUCK series by the Beastly Boys. She then spent a couple of years as Editorial Director for Children’s Fiction at literary agents Mulcahy Conway Associates where she worked to seek out new talent and edit submissions to publishers. Skylark Literary is a bespoke YA literary agency which concentrates on nurturing and supporting new talent.

  Natascha Biebow
Natascha Biebow is an experienced commissioning editor of numerous award-winning children’s books and founder of Blue Elephant Storyshaping, a coaching and mentoring service empowering writers and illustrators to fine-tune their work pre-submission. She has been privileged to be the long-time editor of Kes Gray’s
TROUBLE WITH . . . DAISY series (Penguin Random House) and also to launch Jane Clarke and James Brown’s AL’S AWESOME SCIENCE series for Five Quills, where she is currently Editorial Director. Passionate about picture books, she regularly blogs at Picture Book Den and Picture Book Storyshaper. She is the author of THE CRAYON MAN: THE TRUE STORY OF THE INVENTION OF CRAYOLA CRAYONS, and long-time Regional Advisor (Chair) of SCBWI-BI. In 2018, she was awarded an MBE for her services to children’s authors and illustrators.
Piers Torday
A former theatre and television producer, Piers Torday is an award winning and best-selling writer for children, whose books include The Last Wild (Shortlisted for Waterstones Children’s Book Prize), The Dark Wild (Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize), The Wild Beyond and There May Be a Castle (Times Children’s Book of the Year). The son of the late Paul Torday (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), he recently completed his father’s final unfinished novel, The Death of an Owl. He has also contributed short stories to Winter Magic, A Wisp of Wisdom: Animal Tales from Cameroon, Scoop magazine and Return to Wonderland, and has been a judge for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Costa Children’s Book Awards.

His first book in his new series, The Lost Magician, was published in September 2018 and was a Book of the Year in six national newspapers as well as nominated for several awards. The second title, The Frozen Sea, publishes in September 2019. A regular festival speaker, Piers is a constant visitor at schools both here and abroad to talk to children about their reading and writing. A Beanstalk Reading Helper in North London, he is also a Trustee of the Ministry of Stories and The Unicorn Theatre, Patron of Shrewsbury Book Fest and an Artistic Associate at Wilton’s Music
Isabel Thomas
Isabel Thomas is a science writer and author of more than 150 non-fiction
books for children. Her titles include This Book is Not Rubbish
, the Little Guides to Great Lives
 series and Moth: An
 Evolution Story, and she has been shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize,
 the English 4–11 Picture Book Awards, ASE Book of the Year and the Blue 
Peter Book Awards. Isabel also writes for children’s science magazines and
 STEM outreach projects. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and three
Say hello at, Twitter @isabelwriting
 or Instagram @isabelthomasbooks.

Sara Grant
Sara Grant has inspired, written or edited nearly 100 books for children – from funny, magical stories for young readers to action-adventure for middle graders to dark, dystopian YA tales. She teaches master’s courses on writing for children/teens currently at Goldsmiths University and previously at the University of Winchester. She has given writing workshops in the US, UK and Europe. She co-founded Undiscovered Voices – which has launched the writing careers of authors, who now have written more than 250 children’s books. @authorsaragrant

    Jude Evans
Jude Evans is Publisher of Little Tiger Press. She publishes award-winning, best-selling picture books, novelty books and board books by internationally acclaimed authors and illustrators. Little Tiger specialise in nurturing authors and illustrators to create their best work.
Candy Gourlay
Candy Gourlay is an ardent SCBWI volunteer and is currently serving on the Children’s Writers’ and Illustrators’ Group (CWIG) of the Society of Authors. Growing up in the Philippines, Candy wondered why all the books she ever loved only featured pink-skinned children who lived in snow-covered worlds that didn’t resemble her steamy, tropical home in Manila. As a result, it took her years to fulfil her dream of becoming an author – and years to learn that Filipino stories too, belong in the pages of books.Her latest novel Bone Talk was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Prize – it is set in a historical moment in the Philippines when headhunting tribes came face to face with American invading forces for the first time. Her picture book, Is It a Mermaid, lushly illustrated by Francesca Chessa, was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal. It is set in an idyllic white sand island typical of the Philippines, with a heartfelt eco message. Candy’s other novels for young readers, Tall Story and Shine, both won SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Prize and have been listed for prizes such as the Carnegie, the Waterstones Prize, the Blue Peter and the Guardian Children’s Book Prize. She lives in London with her family, where she wages war on the snails in her garden.
Mo O’Hara
Mo first joined the conference committee about 5 years ago and worked in a speaker co-ordinator role for a while. For the last few years she has been working with Candy Gourlay to develop the PULSE events aimed at our published members. This year Sarah Towle joined the team and they are linking some of the sessions as PULSE and SPARK. When she is not doing SCBWI stuff, Mo writes funny fiction books for kids (like her Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series) or picture books like her latest More People to Love Me. She would love to hear about any ideas for PULSE events or suggestions you might have. Email Candy and her on | @mo_ohara
  Lara Hancock
Lara Hancock began her career as a bookseller, before joining OUP’s sales team and then moving into editorial. She joined Egmont in 2004 where she worked across picture books and gift publishing, launching bestsellers like Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and working on classic publishing including Winnie the Pooh and Miffy. She joined Simon & Schuster in 2012 as Editorial Director for picture books, where she was lucky enough to work with authors and illustrators like Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, Claire Freedman and Ben Cort, Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie and many more. Lara is now Publisher for Picture Books, Partnerships and Illustrated Non-fiction at Penguin Random House Children’s, where she is proud to help look after a wide range of illustrated books, from literary brands like Beatrix Potter, Eric Carle and Spot, to picture book stars like Tom Fletcher, Ed Vere and Nadia Shireen.
Catherine Pellegrino
Catherine has worked in publishing for 30 years: in translation rights at Victor Gollancz, Penguin and Bloomsbury; as a literary scout; and in her current role as an agent specialising in Children’s and YA literature, first at Rogers, Coleridge and White and currently at the dynamic and fast expanding agency Marjacq Scripts, where she represents an eclectic and talented stable of authors including – Linda Coggin, Roopa Farooki, Steve Feasey, Bryony Pearce,T.C Shelley, Harriet Whitehorn.

Her tastes are diverse and tend towards literary, but a cracking story with great characters whether sci-fi, fantasy, literary or historical will always win the day.She is a judge, mentor and founder member of the Commonword Diversity Prize sponsored by Puffin and Marjacq Scripts, which aims through its grassroot workshops and competition to promote diversity in children’s writing.

Joe Marriott
Joe has edited picture books at Penguin Random House Children’s for eight years. He’s worked with a huge range of talented authors and illustrators including Nick Sharratt, Mini Grey, Abie Longstaff, Tom Fletcher, Deborah Allwright and Sara Ogilvie, among many others – and he also works with classic brands such as Spot. He looks for books that are engaging, surprising, inspiring, stylish and accessible. One of his favourite picture books is Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie – the text is beautifully written, the artwork brims both with style and character – a bestselling book that is sweet and funny, encouraging readers to think differently.

He’s a mentor for Penguin Random House’s WriteNow initiative, supporting authors and illustrators from backgrounds currently under-represented in the publishing world. And he generally enjoys working with debut authors and illustrators, helping them to develop their picture book voices and launch their picture book careers.


Clare Wallace
As chief talent-spotter at the Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency, Clare represents picture books, middle-grade, teenage, YA and illustrators. She’s worked at Darley Anderson since 2011, initially in translation rights before moving across to agenting. She represents a list of award-winning and best-selling authors and illustrators including Deirdre Sullivan, Beth Reekles, Polly Ho-Yen, Stewart Foster, Lorna Scobie and Claire Powell. She loves to discover memorable new characters, bold and unique voices, a strong concept and great storytelling.


Megan Carroll
Megan graduated from Goldsmiths with a BA in English and American Literature in 2013 and worked as an intern at Watson, Little and Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency before returning to the Watson, Little as the assistant in July 2014. She is now an Associate Agent and is building her own list. Megan is looking for commercial fiction & amp; reading group fiction with original voices and an interesting hook, YA with realistic themes and characters, memoir and good narrative non-fiction riting on film, popular culture and issues from a female perspective. She is also interested in discovering new, diverse, quirky and imaginative voices across all ages in Children’s Fiction and growing a list of talented illustrators.





Our main sponsors are:


Society of Authors Main Sponsor: Golden Egg

SCBWI would like to thank the sponsors for their support. SCBWI is a non-profit organization
and does not endorse any products or services provided by external companies.


Illustrations © Mini Grey 2019