Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators




  Alex Wheatle
Author Keynote
Alex Wheatle is the best-selling author of several books including the modern classic Brixton Rock, and the multi-award winning Crongton series. He was awarded an MBE for his services to literature in 2008, has been twice nominated for the Carnegie Medal, and has won numerous awards including Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. He lives in London.
  Jim Field
Illustrator Keynote
Jim Field is an award-winning illustrator, character designer and animation director. From music videos and title sequences to advertising and picture books, Jim has worked on a variety of projects.
He grew up in Farnborough, worked in London and now lives in the French countryside with his wife and young daughter. His first picture book, ‘Cats Ahoy’ written by Peter Bently won the Booktrust Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2011. Since then, he has won multiple awards including Oscar’s Book Prize, Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards and the Lollies Book Award.
He regularly collaborates with Rachel Bright (The Lion Inside), Kes Gray (Oi Frog!) and Julian Gough (Rabbit & Bear). He has also illustrated children’s books with Michelle Robinson, Jeanne Willis, Steve Cole, comedian David Baddiel and J.K.Rowling. Jim’s debut author-illustrator picture book ‘Monsieur Roscoe – On Holiday’ is a bilingual book that introduces first French words to young children and is now available in 12 countries. In 2021 Jim illustrated the number one selling children’s book ‘The Christmas Pig’ written by J.K Rowling.
  Darren Chetty
PULSE 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
PULSE 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.
  Danielle Jawando
Danielle Jawando is an author and screenwriter. Her debut YA novel, And the Stars Were Burning Brightly, won best senior novel in the Great Reads Award, and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the YA Book Prize, the Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize, the Branford Boase Award and was longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the UKLA Book Awards and the Amazing Book Awards. Her previous publications include the non-fiction children’s book Maya Angelou (Little Guides to Great Lives), the short stories Paradise 703 (long-listed for the Finishing Line Press Award) and The Deerstalker (selected as one of six finalists for the We Need Diverse Books short story competition), as well as several short plays performed in Manchester and London. Danielle has also worked on Coronation Street as a storyline writer. Her second YA novel, When Our Worlds Collided, was published in March this year.
Louisa Reid
Louisa Reid has spent most of her life reading. And when she’s not doing that she’s writing stories, or imagining writing them at least. An English teacher, her favourite part of the job is sharing her love of reading and writing with her pupils. Louisa lives with her family in the north-west of England. Her latest novels for young people have been in verse: Gloves Off (Guppy Books) and Wrecked (Guppy Books) and she’s fallen in love with the exhilarating and exciting challenges and opportunities that writing in this form brings. Her previous two novels were published by Penguin: Black Heart Blue and Lies Like Love. Louisa writes about things that she thinks are important to young people, and all people generally, really. Drawn to write about themes of female empowerment and personal freedom, Gloves Off is about bullying and body image, with some boxing thrown in too. Louisa hopes the novel will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever had to fight for self-confidence and self-belief – things which are, for many, very hard won. Louisa is now writing for adults too. Her debut adult title, The Poet, was published by Doubleday in June 2022. Set in the charged world of Oxford University, it is on the one hand a portrait of a toxic relationship, about coercive control, class and privilege; on the other – a passionate, page-turning tale of female solidarity, survival and revenge.
Sara Grant
Sara Grant writes and edits fiction for children and teens. Dark Parties, her first young adult novel, won SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award for Europe. Since then, nine of her books have been traditionally published. As a freelance editor of series fiction, she has worked on fourteen different series and edited nearly 100 books. She’s the Talent Manager for Storymix, an inclusive fiction studio. She’s taught master’s courses on writing for children/teens at Goldsmiths University and 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 nearly fifty authors and illustrators, who now have published more than 400 children’s books.
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.
Ness Wood
Ness Wood is an award-winning book designer and art director and she has worked for many major children’s publishers designing picture books and fiction. She has taught publishing at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), on the Illustration MA course at Goldsmiths, run the Cambridge School of Art Summer School (2014-2020) and taught Design History at the University of Brighton. Ness is a Leader in Residence at UCLAN. Ness is known for her encouraging, straightforward and collaborative approach with illustrators and students. Ness has also been a judge for the Bologna Ragazzi Award. In 2018, she was part of the winning team at the British Design and Production Awards, in the Graphic Novel Category. Ness is co-founder of Orange Beak Studio who offer insight and encouragement for illustrators through individual tutorials, talks and varied workshops.
Camilla Chester
Camilla Chester is a dog walking, hybrid Children’s Author, with three self-published and one traditionally published novel, entitled Call Me Lion. She has been shortlisted twice in national competitions, writes on commission for the popular online school resource, Serial Mash, is an active SCBWI volunteer and is represented by Veronique Baxter at DHA.
    A M Dassu
A. M. DASSU is the internationally acclaimed author of Boy, Everywhere, which has been listed for 25 awards, including the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the Carnegie Medal, is the 2021 winner of The Little Rebels Award for Radical Fiction and is also an American Library Association Notable Book.

She is a director at Inclusive Minds, which is an organisation for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children’s literature, and one of The National Literacy Trust’s Connecting Stories campaign authors, aiming to help inspire a love of reading and writing in children and young people.

A. M. Dassu grew up in the Midlands dreaming of becoming a writer but studied economics instead and worked in marketing and project management before realising her dream. She writes books that challenge stereotypes, humanise the “other” and are full of empathy, hope and heart. You can also find her on Twitter @a_reflective or Instagram @a.m.dassu.

 Liz Scott
Liz Scott is from West Yorkshire and has worked in the children’s book industry for 20 years, starting as an in-house publicist at Usborne Publishing before relocating to the North West as a freelance publicist. She works on PR campaigns and strategy with publishers and Literacy Organisations from across the industry including Oxford University Press, David Fickling Books, Old Barn Books and CLPE.
Julia Churchill


Julia Churchill runs the children’s book department at AM Heath & Co. She represents children’s book authors writing for all ages and is always on the lookout for new talent.
 Marie Basting
When Marie Basting was fifteen, she was told by a careers advisor that working class girls like her don’t become writers. For a long time, she believed this. But then her debut novel, Princess BMX, was published and Marie finally came to realise that girls like her can do anything they want. She now loves nothing better than encouraging others to realise their writing dreams and prior to acting as this year’s SCBWI Co-Conference Chair volunteered as ARA Networks, coordinating SCBWI’s activity at a local level. A former Associate lecturer at Manchester Met University, Marie has taught creative writing from foundation through to MFA level as well as offering freelance creative writing tuition and mentoring to both adults and children, working with organisations such as Liverpool’s Writing on the Wall and the Portico Library. Her #BeMoreBMX school and festival events have inspired thousands of children to smash stereotypes and defy expectations. She holds an MA in Creative Writing and Pedagogy and Level 7 qualification in Action Learning.
  Steve & Connie Hartley
In 2008, Steve was one of the winners of SCBWI’s inaugural Undiscovered Voices. He went on to publish two series with Macmillan: Danny Baker Record Breaker, and Oliver Fibbs, and won the 2014 Surrey Libraries’ Children’s Book of the Year. He is a regular course tutor at Swanwick Summer Writers’ School.
Steve’s daughter Connie graduated as an actress from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she studied the techniques of Stanislavski and Lecoq. She is now an Independent Celebrant, combining her love of performance and writing.
Steve and Connie write comedy scripts together. The BBC Comedy Commissioning Team said of their writing: “The scripts are lovingly crafted pieces and there’s a very impressive ear for the rhythms and idiosyncrasies of everyday speech throughout.” Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh said, “I bloody love this script!”
  Sue Wallman
Sue Wallman’s debut young adult thriller, Lying About Last Summer, was published in 2016 and selected for the WHSmith Zoella Book Club. This was followed by other award-winning titles See How They Lie, Your Turn to Die, Dead Popular, I Know You Did It and Such A Good Liar. She has spoken at various festivals including Hay and Cheltenham. A former magazine journalist, she now combines writing with working as a secondary school librarian.
  Tracy Darnton
Tracy Darnton is the author of YA thrillers *The Truth About Lies*, *The Rules* and *Ready or Not*. She teaches creative writing and has taught on the MA Writing for Young People at Bath Spa. She has spoken specifically on thrillers at YALC, Bath Children’s Lit Fest, Waterstones panels and Wychwood Festival
  Juliet Clare Bell
Juliet Clare Bell (always called Clare) has written over 35 picture books and early readers, including Ask First, Monkey! (a playful introduction to consent and boundaries, illustrated by Abigail Tompkins), Don’t Panic, Annika! (featured on CBeebies numerous times and illustrated by Jennifer E Morris) and Benny’s Hat (a a story about sibling bereavement, illustrated by Dave Gray). She’s been shortlisted for SBCWI’s Crystal Kite three times and currently has a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellowship. In a former life (before children), she was a research developmental psychologist. Clare writes fiction and nonfiction, blogs with the Picture Book Den and is represented by James Catchpole.
  Rebecca Colby
Rebecca Colby is an author and screenwriter. She has published 33 children’s books with Macmillan, Viking/PRH, Collins, Maverick, Nosy Crow and The National Trust. Her work is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Before writing for children, she worked for a Russian comedian, taught English in Taiwan, travelled the world as a tour director, and worked as a librarian. Born in America, she now lives in England. She tweets as @amscribbler.

  Caryl Hart
Caryl Hart writes picture books and young fiction and runs creative literacy workshops for schools, libraries, communities and festivals. Her books have been shortlisted for 18 regional and national awards, and won 10 of these. Meet the Oceans was one of Waterstones Best Books for Babies & Toddlers 2021 and Books for Topics’ Best EYFS Curriculum Support 2021. Girls Can Do Anything was shortlisted for the Independent Bookshop Week Book Award, 2019. Her best-selling Albie series has sold over a quarter of a million copies in the UK. Caryl lives in Sheffield with her family and loves walking in the hills, cycling and wild swimming. Twitter: @carylhart1 Instagram: @carylhart
Lucy Reynolds
Lucy Reynolds (author) co founded Doodles and Scribbles in 2017, now she and Jenna Herman combine their backgrounds in poetry and fine art to create beautiful books for little explorers. She grew up on a farm in the countryside and developed her love of the natural world roaming free in the great outdoors. Whilst living in the Big Smoke Lucy remained an avid bird spotter, leaf identifier and flower picker, despite her urban environs. Lucy’s fascination with all things wild comes from her West Country origins and drew her to study the two great noticers of nature, Thomas Hardy and G.M. Hopkins, for her PhD in Poetry. Through many years in consultancy, and whilst project managing a range of inspirational community programmes, Lucy has remained true to her first love: the written and spoken word.
  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.
Jenna Herman
Jenna Herman (illustrator) co founded Doodles and Scribbles in 2017, now she and Lucy Reynolds combine their backgrounds in poetry and fine art to create beautiful books for little explorers. She grew up in The Potteries in Staffordshire, where she fostered creativity from a young age drawing, painting, and photographing her toy Sylvanian Families amongst the flowers in her garden. Always passionate about art and photography, Jenna went on to pursue a degree in Fine Art and career in photoshoot production and magazine publishing before returning to art and becoming a designer and illustrator. Jenna’s children’s book illustrations are inspired by the beauty of nature all around us, using details from leaves, flowers and insects to create pattern and pretty designs.
Paul Morton
A professional illustrator for over 30 years and illustration organiser for SCBWI.
Paul has illustrated various educational and novelty picture books, but his driving passion was always to illustrate his own texts. He now has two fully illustrated early readers published by Five Quills featuring the greedy frog, Bug Belly and is currently working on 2 more Bug Belly stories, a PB and an illustrated YF book. 
Twitter: @paulhotfrog
Bella Pearson
Fiona Scoble is Senior Editor for fiction at Nosy Crow, where she’s been fortunate enough to work with many brilliantly talented middle-grade authors. She loves illustrated fiction and has edited a number of chapter books, including the New York Times best-selling series, Unicorn Academy.
    Kesia Lupo
Kesia Lupo is Senior Editor at Chicken House, the boutique children’s publisher founded and run by publishing legend Barry Cunningham, where she has worked since 2015. Now, she acquires and edits YA and middle-grade fiction across an eclectic range of genres, as well heading up the Times/Chicken House Competition, the largest children’s fiction competition in the UK. Authors she works with include Costa-winning magical realist author Jasbinder Bilan and bestselling fantasy writer James Nicol on the middle-grade side, and speculative fiction writers Ben Oliver, Naomi Gibson and Molly Morris for YA. Kesia is also the author of two YA fantasy novels published by Bloomsbury, We Are Blood and Thunder and We Are Bound by Stars. Find her on Twitter and TikTok: @keslupo and on Instagram @kesialupoauthor  She’s seeking middle-grade and YA fiction only, across all genres including contemporary, romance, fantasy, horror and sci fi. She’s especially interested in finding underrepresented voices and stories
Jo Williamson
Jo Williamson has been an agent for 13 years and worked in publishing for 27. She is looking for voices that stand out and great storytelling. Specific genres are younger fiction , MG adventure, contemporary YA, psychological thrillers and Reading group fiction. She is particularly looking for authors from diverse backgrounds and Own Voices.
  Becky Bagnell
Becky Bagnell is the founder of the Lindsay Literary Agency and has been in publishing for over 25 years. She worked as a commissioning editor at Macmillan before becoming a literary agent in 2008. Becky’s clients have been published in multiple languages across the world and include the multi-award winning authors, Pamela Butchart, Sue Wallman, Sam Gayton, Larry Hayes and J. M. Joseph. She’s currently looking for a YA love story that has an unusual or fantastical setting – Wes Anderson meets John Green. Underrepresented voices are always welcome in whatever form they come. In general she’d like to be surprised.
Penny Holroyde
Penny Holroyde has worked in children’s publishing for her whole career, which is quite a long one now! She worked in-house for publishers Walker Books in London and Candlewick press in the USA where she was the Rights Director. Her first job as an agent was with Caroline Sheldon where she worked for a decade before setting up Holroyde Cartey in 2015 with Claire Cartey, formerly Art Director at Hachette.
She is looking for all kinds of picture books of 500-600 words, in rhyme or in prose. They can be funny or poignant or just plain silly but she really wants to see picture books with a message and strong characters. She is particularly interested in meeting illustrators with stories to tell, but is also offering artwork portfolio reviews. She is also looking for middle-grade, either stand-alone or series. She really likes animal sob-stories and stories involving ordinary children in extraordinary circumstances in either contemporary or historical settings. She is less interested in seeing middle-grade proposals of over 50,000 words. For YA, she’d like to see a romance or a thriller, either contemporary or historical or stories with an environmental theme. In all categories she is looking for underrepresented voices.
Arabella Stein
Representing award-winning and best-selling illustrators and authors, both established and at the beginning of their careers, Arabella is particularly drawn to artwork with an immediate and unforgettable impact; individual, yet relatable characters and a strong narrative. Arabella is able to inspire and encourage artists and authors – setting up long lasting collaborations with publishers internationally. Arabella is also now leading the literary list at the Bright Agency.


Katie Blagden
Katie Blagden works closely with Arabella Stein on the Bright Literary list, representing authors across all areas of Children’s, YA, Fiction and Graphic Novels. Before joining the Literary team, she worked for Bright in marketing, with previous experience as a bookseller. She loves working with authors to find their books an audience, and particularly enjoys building lasting relationships with editors and authors alike. Katie spends most of her free time reading, and enjoys a wide range of books across Children’s, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Graphic Novels. When she’s not reading, Katie is also a contributor on the Graham Norton Book Club on Audible.


Alice Williams
Alice Williams set up her agency in 2018 after representing children’s book writers for over ten years at David Higham Associates. She works with writers and illustrators of picture books, non-fiction, young fiction, middle grade and YA.
Alice is excited by submissions combining a strong, original hook or premise, characters that young readers will want to spend time with and characterful writing that jumps off the page. She’s keen to read funny or lyrical picture book texts, and contemporary or magical fiction for all ages. She would love to see projects from author-illustrators, whether picture books, young fiction or graphic novels.


Tilda Johnson
Tilda Johnson worked at David Fickling Books, Random House Children’s and Hot Key Books/Piccadilly Press before freelancing as a children’s fiction editor. She is Editorial Director of the Golden Egg Academy (@TheGEAcademy) and works freelance for a number of publishers, as well as running Children’s Books North, the voluntary network she co-founded in 2020 to help draw focus on regional diversity in children’s publishing. Tilda loves working closely with writers and stories, and being lucky enough to have a front-row seat as these transform. 
Interested in all fiction 5+ to YA but particularly keen to see underrepresented voices, funny writing, contemporary settings, verse & literary fiction, historical and/or anything with a really unique premise or clear story hook.


Zoë Plant
Zoë is a literary agent at The Bent Agency. Having started her career working in international rights as a literary scout, she now represents a list of authors that include New York Times bestsellers and award-winners. She represents middle-grade and young adult fiction across all genres, with a particular focus on fantasy, science fiction and horror. Her tastes lean towards commercial, entertaining and accessible books that also have something to say about the world. Working closely with writers to bring out the best in their books and their careers is her favourite part of being an agent.


Emma Layfield
Emma Layfield is Picture Book Development Director for Hachette Children’s Group and is focused on working with writers and illustrators based in the North, Scotland and Ireland. She is based at Hachette UK’s new Manchester office. She is also co-founder of Children’s Books North, an independent network set up to promote and support published children’s authors, illustrators and publishing professionals living in the north.



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