Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators



We are proud to announce the programme for our first Northern conference, to be held on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November 2022 at Manchester Metropolitan University, Business School building. There’s something for everyone and we can’t wait to welcome members and non-members alike to finally come together in-person to network, share ideas and find our power once again. 

Access the SCBWI BI Conference 2022 Info Pack



Fringe Friday 18th November

’Twas the night before conference and all the excited folk flocked in eager anticipation . . .
Meet lots of lovely people in an informal setting. After all, the weekend is for creativity, fun and networking!

The Famous Fringe!

Meeting up with old friends, making new ones, quelling those newbie nerves, the Friday Fringe night offers a whole host of activities to get you in the mood for the weekend’s conference, including a dinner social and quiz night. Visit the Friday Fringe page for more information.

Saturday, 19th November

Saturday is a day for networking, honing your skills and immersing yourself in the children’s book industry – whatever your level, there is something for you! In the evening, join us for a Mass Book Launch faculty dinner celebration of the publishing year’s crop of SCBWI-BI books and the presentation of the Crystal Kite Award.


8:45 – 9:30 Welcome coffee and registration
(For everyone, not just newbies)

And so it begins! Sign in, grab a coffee, find out which rooms your sessions will be in, and settle in for a wonderful weekend.

Those new to the conference can come and meet our experienced conference volunteers. This friendly bunch will make you feel welcome, answer your questions and be available throughout the conference to help or just chat.

Meet Your Network

Ease yourself into the conference by meeting up with your local Network Organisers and volunteers. You can also check out what’s happening in nearby networks. There will be folks around to talk about every network area. This is a great place for conference newbies to connect with their local network and make friends for the weekend (and beyond!), and a great opportunity for everyone to socialise and volunteer.

9:30 to 9:45 – Opening Remarks
With Natascha Biebow and Kathy Evans (Co- Regional Advisors)

Natascha Biebow
Welcome with Co-Regional Advisors Natascha Biebow and Kathy Evans

9:45 to 10:35 – Author Keynote
With Alex Wheatle MBE


An inspirational talk from author Alex Wheatle MBE, 2017 – Winner of the Renaissance Quiz Writers’ Choice Award and 2016 – Winner of the Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Award for Crongton Knights.

10:35 to 10:55 – Coffee Break

10:55 to 12:15 – MORNING BREAKOUTS

Don’t Lose the Plot
With Sara Grant*
When it comes to plot, are you a ‘planner’ or a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-er’? This workshop will teach the latter to do the former and help the planner to plan more effectively. Sara’s systematic approach to plotting draws on her 15 years of experience as editor, author and university lecturer. Learn how to engage your readers from a compelling inciting incident through to your surprising and inevitable ending.

*change of speaker. Due to personal circumstances, Lil Chase is no longer able to attend.

How Illustrators Collaborate with Writers: Allowing SPACE to Create
With best-selling illustrator, Jim Field

Hear how award winning, best-selling illustrator Jim Field approaches each book, whether there is collaboration or a brief from the writers. Discover how writers can allow ‘space’ for the illustrator, and any key changes or challenges that emerge as a result. How Jim’s approach to a project varies when he’s working as an author/illustrator on books he’s written himself, such as the Monsieur Roscoe series, and how editors and designers are involved in the creative process.
PULSE/SPARK ~ Power, Politics and Censorship in YA Fiction
With authors Alex Wheatle, Danielle Jawando and Louisa Reid
How do authors navigate themes of gender, decolonising books, refugees, #metoo and #blacklivesmatter that have led to controversy? Candy Gourlay chairs this discussion with award-winning Young Adult authors Alex Wheatle, Danielle Jawando and Louisa Reid‪.‬‬‬‬

12:15 to 13:15 – Lunch

13:15 to 14:15 – Illustrator Keynote
With Jim Field

14:20 to 15:40 – AFTERNOON BREAKOUTS
Inside Look From the Art Director, Editor and Agent’s Desk
With Art Director, Ness Wood, Picture Book Director, Emma Layfield and Director of the Bright Agency, Arabella Stein

Illustrators and picture book creators will gain a unique behind-the-scenes insight into what factors influence professionals in choosing and matching the right illustrator to each project. Art Directors and Illustration agents will talk you through a recent project (a picture book, young fiction book and/or book cover) that they’re passionate about, and share insights into how they found the talent, and how they developed the project. Get a close-up look at the role of the Industry Professional working hand-in-hand with illustrators and picture book creators to create strong content for young readers.
Publishing 101: The Truth about Publishing Warts and All
With agents Becky Bagnall and Katie Blagden plus author Camilla Chester
So you’ve written your brilliant middle grade, YA or picture book – how do you go about finding an agent and getting your book published? Debut Author Camilla Chester shares her journey to publication to help you gain realistic expectations and perhaps open up new options for your own career in writing. She’s joined by agents Becky Bagnall (Lindsay Literary Agency) and Katie Blagden (The Bright Agency), who will speak about how best to submit your YA, MG or picture book to literary agents. Learn what to do, and not to do, and what a literary agent can do for you.
PULSE/SPARK: How to Successfully Launch Your Book
With A M Dassu, Liz Scott and Julia Churchill
Hear from author, AM Dassu, publicist, Liz Scott and agent, Julia Churchill, as they take you through the ins and outs of a truly successful book launch.
What does a successful publicity campaign look like?
How can you work collaboratively WITH your publicist?
What can an author do to successfully launch their book?
How can you get organised ahead of your launch?
How can you keep the momentum going for your next book and the one after that?
There will be lots of time for questions and lots of practical advice.
Come ready to take notes and to jump into the discussion.

It will offer a safe space to ask all those burning questions and get answers straight from the expert’s mouth.
What Captain America Taught Me About Voice: Writing with Superhero POW
With author Marie Basting
Marie Basting learnt everything she knows about voice from Captain America. OK, that’s a lie but using words to dramatic effect is kind of the point of this workshop. We’ll start by briefly exploring what constitutes voice and how our language and structural choices influence tone and style. Having established the building blocks, we’ll dive into some practical exercises and yes there will be a chance to meet the Marvel Avengers as we explore how voice works at both a narrative and character level. If superheroes aren’t really your bag, that’s OK because Marie has a range of other tricks up the sleeve of her leotard as she shares her own writing process, leaving you with some top tips to ensure your writing voice has superhero POW!

15:40 to 16:00 – Coffee Break

16:00 to 16:10 – Sarah Baker
Afternoon Welcome remarks
With SCBWI Executive Director

16:10 to 17:10 – Pitch Event

In a brand-new format – think a cross between blind date and speed pitching – authors and illustrators pitch to our esteemed judges. Who will be chosen for a 1-1 with an agent or editor?!

17:10 to 18:30 – Rest and Relaxation

Fantastic costumes on show at last years SCBWI BI Conference

18:30 to 23:00 – Dinner and Mass Book Launch Celebration
Including Crystal Kite Award

Time to let your hair down! A chance to socialise with other writers and rub shoulders with the stellar line-up of industry professionals attending. Partake of a drink or three, cheer the book launchers, and applaud the winner of the Crystal Kite Award. Oh and see the fabulous MBL cake.

This event will take place in the Hyatt Hotel Ballroom. Welcome drinks from 18:30 with dinner at 19:30, followed by the MBL and Crystal Kite Awards.

One glass of wine or juice on arrival is provided, thereafter it will be a cash bar.

Sunday 20th November 2022

Sunday is a day to roll up your sleeves! Take your pick of workshops and intensives. Whether you’re an illustrator or a writer, whether you’re pre-published, published or self-published, there will be a session just right for you!


08:30 to 9:15 – Coffee, Tea, Natter

Welcome back! Time to mill with coffee, chill with friends, get the brain back in gear.

9:15 to 9:35 – Outstanding Contribution Award

Volunteers make the SCBWI world go round. Here is our chance to celebrate the generous contributions of members from all over the British Isles.

9:35 to 10:25 – PULSE Keynote
With Darren Chetty and Karen Sands O’Connor in conversation with Candy Gourlay

Candy Gourlay - Author
The column Beyond the Secret Garden has been an astonishing four-year exploration into the representation of BAME authors and characters in children’s books. Authors Darren Chetty and Karen Sands-O’Connor share fascinating insights and discuss the road ahead.


10:30 to 12:30 – MORNING BREAKOUTS

Acting Up: Using Performance Techniques To Bring Your Characters to Life On the Page (Part 1)
With Connie and Steve Hartley
The workshop will offer an unusual take on characterisation, by using techniques that actors employ to build characters, and apply them to writing.
1. Behavioural styles: a simple model that divides people into four basic groups, based on voice, body language, emotions, and assertiveness.
2. Status: Understanding how real and perceived status drives interactions within a scene and throughout a narrative; how subtly changing the status of characters creates tension and drama.
3. Classic animal-work: a novel way to build and gain insight into your characters, and keep them consistent.
The workshop is interactive. Come prepared to play a few drama games, have fun, be a bit silly and learn something new. You won’t be expected to perform alone in front of the rest of the delegates; most work will be in groups, or pairs. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing, and come prepared to get on your feet, or crawl on all-fours, and get beastly!
Important! Pre-work to do before the day:
Choose a land-based animal (birds count too). Watch videos of the animal and make notes on how they move, eat, sleep, hunt, groom, interact (or not!) – don’t assume you know. Choose three words to describe what kind of “personality” the animal has.
Because of the interactive nature of the workshop, numbers are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

(This is a full day workshop)
The Suspense Is Killing me 
With Sue Wallman & Tracy Darnton
Come along and discover our killer know-how. YA authors Sue Wallman and Tracy Darnton take you through the vital elements of writing a tense, teen thriller, and give dead good tips on how to write a compelling story, whatever your genre.
PULSE/SPARK: Creating Additional Income Streams for Published Children’s Authors 
With Juliet Clare Bell and Rebecca Colby
With advances and royalties shrinking, how can authors find ways to make ends meet? Accountability partners, Juliet Clare Bell and Rebecca Colby, share their experiences, strategies and tips for finding additional writing-based and writing-related income streams. This workshop will cover fellowships, grants, non-traditionally published paid writing opportunities and educational writing, to name but a few. It’s both an informative and practical workshop that will assist you in exploring your USP and passions in order to put forward applications and projects that have the potential to earn you more money.
As a PULSE event for published authors we know there’ll be lots of expertise in the room and there’ll be an opportunity for delegates to share other potential income streams.
Storyboarding Your Picture Book:  Think Like a Filmmaker 
With Jim Field
How to think like a filmmaker when approaching storyboarding your picture book. Top-selling illustrator Jim Field will discuss the importance of a good composition and how it is fundamental to carrying the visual narrative of a story. Using references from books, art and film and also his own projects.
(Suitable for illustrators primarily, but anyone welcome)
From Idea to Manuscript – Techniques for Generating Picture Book Ideas and Developing Meaningful Stories that Real People Want to Read
With Caryl Hart
In this session, we will explore some techniques for generating and exploring new ideas, helping you turn your notions into well-rounded, multi-layered stories that real people will want to read. We will use oral storytelling games, mind mapping and play trays to help get your ideas flowing, help you explore topics and themes, and create narrative. We will then discuss how to flesh out and organise your ideas to create a story that real people will want to read!

12:30 to 13:40 – LUNCH

13:40 to 15:40 – AFTERNOON BREAKOUTS

Acting Up: Using Performance Techniques To Bring Your Characters to Life On the Page (Part 2)
With Connie & Steve Hartley
(Continued from the morning session)
Writing a Novel in Verse
With Louisa Reid
This workshop will dispel any trepidation you may feel about writing a novel in verse! The session will enable you to begin to explore the craft and give you the confidence to experiment with this exciting and popular form. We’ll look at excerpts from recently published verse novels revealing the range of approaches to writing narrative poetry, and discuss the what, the why, and the how as you begin to draft a scene in verse for sharing at the end of the workshop if you choose. Verse novel excerpts will include from work by Jason Reynolds, Lucy Cuthew, Sarah Crossan and others.
SPARK: How to Independently Publish – And Sell – Your Children’s Book 
With Lucy Reynolds & Jenna Harmen
If you have a children’s book afoot, but no agent or publisher, this seminar is for you! Find out how to take your creation from storyboard onto the shelves with author/ illustrator duo Doodles & Scribbles. Writer, Lucy Reynolds, and illustrator, Jenna Herman, will talk you through their journey from concept to sales contract, covering key steps including: physical book production; running a publishing company; branding & marketing; sales platforms; distribution; and everything in between! The session will focus on practical tips for publishing your own work, with the aim of achieving sales that compete with traditionally published works.

This interactive session will include a Q&A with Lucy and Jenna who look forward to answering any questions. 

Illustrator Wisdom: From Pencil to Print
With author/illustrator Paul Morton
Author/ illustrator Paul Morton shares his artistic knowhow learnt whilst illustrating his BUG BELLY Early Reader titles. How do the hand-drawn pencil illustrations go through various digital processes before ending up as the final printed book? Tips on illustrating in Procreate and Photoshop, with plenty of tangents en route including – Practical tips and recommendations for illustrators who also want to write. Advice on finding your artistic voice and interrogating your character.
Picture Books to Change the World
With Caryl Hart
Children’s books can be incredibly powerful. Not only do they help motivate children to learn how to read, but they give children access to a whole world of possibility. They enable children and families to experience other lives, to travel through other worlds and to explore a huge range of social relationships.

As creators we have a wonderful opportunity – and a duty – to influence our reader’s thoughts, actions and values to create a more inclusive, kinder and fairer world.

In this session, we’ll look at some of the ways you can challenge yourself to create stand-out books that will truly help build a better future. We’ll start with a little social experiment, then talk about gender stereotyping, privilege, fairness vs equity, diversity & inclusion, modelling pro-social behaviour and reading for empathy. I will give participants guidance on how to develop their own self-awareness, knowledge and understanding of these topics

15:40 to 16:10 – Closing Remarks, Coffee and Goodbyes

We all gather together to say our thanks to the volunteer team. You have a last chance for a bit of book shopping, cake, and a chat and giggle with your SCBWI colleagues, before you make your way home.



Book Conference Here


Book Friday Fringe Here


Book Saturday Night Party (incl MBL) Here



C O N F E R E N C E   S P O N S O R S


Our main sponsors are:





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.


We would also like to thank all the industry professionals who have donated their time as raffle prizes:

Natasha Brown at Faber Children’s; Megan Carroll at Watson, Little Literary Agency;

Anne Clarke at Anne Clarke Literary Agency; Jude Evans at Little Tiger Press;

Philippa Milnes-Smith at The Soho Agency; Caroline Thomson at Arena Illustration Ltd;

Barry Timms at Macmillan Children’s Books; Eve White at Eve White Literary Agency;

Polly Nolan at Papercuts Literary Agency, Sarah Odedina at Pushkin Children’s Books;

Holly Fulbrook at Oxford University Press; and Lauren Fairgrieve at Nosy Crow.


Illustrations © Jim Field 2022