Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

VIRTUAL EVENT: OH MG! A Weekend of Middle Grade

Loading Map....

Date(s) - 27/02/2021 - 28/02/2021
10:00 am - 3:30 pm

Zoom - virtual meeting online
Virtual - meeting , online Uk

Middle Grade Weekend 2021



Two whole days of writerly shenanigans.

Attend from the comfort of your own home! 


Can’t attend live? Don’t worry – the recording will be

available for two weeks after the event.


*The zoom link will be in your email confirmation! Watch out for it!



F   U   N   D   I   N   G

A limited number of fully funded tickets are available for the following
writers and illustrators under-represented in children’s publishing:

• SCBWI British Isles members who have financial need
• SCBWI British Isles members who identify as BAME, LGBTQIA+,
disabled or working class

• Non-members who identify as BAME, LGBTQIA+,
disabled or working class

Application deadline: 4 Feb 2021.
Successful applicants will be contacted by 10 Feb 2021






to 10.30



Log in as early as 10.15 to say  hi, socialise in the Chatbox, make sure all your tech is working. Organizers Candy Gourlay and Mo O’Hara will be there to greet you!

10.45 POETRY PAUSE with Dom Conlon
Poet and author Dom Conlon talks about inspiration and performs his moving poem, Bent Back
11.00 KEYNOTE: From Spark to Publication: Inspiration, Adventure and World-building
From that first spark of an idea to publication, explore the writing journeys of two dazzling MG writers Peter Bunzl, author of the bestselling Cogheart series, and Jasbinder Bilan, who won the 2019 Costa Prize for Asha and the Spirit Bird.
to 12.10
12.10 POETRY PAUSE with Valerie Bloom
Poet Valerie Bloom performs a poem from her new collection Stars with Flaming Tails, illustrated by Ken Wilson Max
12.20 AGE APPROPRIATE MG: What are the boundaries of writing MG?
MG books range from illustrated funny series for KS2 (ages 7 to 11) readers to serious literary novels for KS3 (ages 11 to 14). What are the boundaries of writing for MG?  How do authors and publishers navigate the pitfalls of writing for the age group? Featuring Usborne Commissioning editor Stephanie King and two award winning authors Cath Howe and Candy Gourlay
to 14.00
Break for Lunch and Chatbox socialising
Sorry, submissions are now closed. What are agents really like when they’re reading their slushpiles? We challenge YOU (Middle Grade authors, published and prepublished) to submit up to 200 words from the opening chapters of your middle grade manuscripts to literary agents, Kate Shaw and Gemma Cooper. Bestselling author James Nicol reads your extracts and keeps our panel in line as our agents tell us what works and what doesn’t work. Do you accept the challenge? To submit your extracts, fill in this form






to 10.30



Log in as early as 10.15 to say  hi, socialise in the Chatbox, make sure all your tech is working. Candy Gourlay and Mo O’Hara will be there to greet you!

10.30 POETRY PAUSE with Em Lynas
Em Lynas, author of the Witch School series and creator of The Fun-e-Verse, talks about finding your voice as a writer. She performs The Hamster’s Hair
10.45 KEYNOTE: How to Train an Author 
Bestselling author, Children’s Laureate and National Treasure Cressida Cowell discusses her extraordinary successes with author Lorraine Gregory, winner of the Crystal Kite Award for her book, Mold and the Poison Plot
to 12.00
12.00 COMMUNITY: The Rise of  #UKMGCHAT
Miriam Craig and Lorraine Gregory talk about the middle grade community they built on Twitter under the hashtag #UKMGChat, the authors they have interviewed and the lessons they have learned about the genre. 
12.15 NON-FICTION: There’s more to MG than Fantasy
MG non fiction is on the rise, responding to demand from readers  living with the realities of Covid, climate change and racial inequality. Rashmi Sirdeshpande, author of Dosh and How to Be Extraordinary discusses the exciting possibilities with Louie Stowell, author of The Dragon in the Library, who until recently was an editor at Ladybird Books.
to 13.40
Lunch Break and Chat
13.40 POETRY PAUSE with Joseph Coelho
Joseph Coelho calls his new book The Girl Who Became A Tree  ‘a story in poems’
13.45 MG 101: Ask Us Anything!
Whether you’re a newbie figuring out how to write MG, a grizzled midlist author wondering about trends, or an MG enthusiast with a burning question, have we got a panel for you! We present New York Times Bestselling Author Mo O’Hara, Storymix editor Jasmine Richards and Felicity Trew of the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency. Ask them anything!



Tales on Moon Lane logo

Books will be for sale online via   Tales on Moon Lane, an independent Children’s Bookshop  that has won the British Book Award for Children’s Bookseller of the Year and London’s Top Independent Bookshop Award. The bookshop has given rise to Moon Lane Ink,  a not-for-profit Community Interest Company dedicated to raising equality in children’s books – equality of access, equality of representation and equality of roles within the publishing industry. Tales on Moon Lane has bookshops in Herne Hill, Ramsgate and Lewisham.









Jasbinder Bilan

Jasbinder BilanAccording to family stories, Jasbinder was born in a stable close to the foothills of the Himalaya. Until she was a year and a half, she lived on a farm inhabited by a grumpy camel and a monkey called Oma. In her writing she loves creating magical worlds inspired by her love of nature and wild places.  Jasbinder grew up in Nottingham and now has an MA in Creative Writing for Young People, from Bath Spa University. Her debut Asha And The Spirit Bird was shortlisted for the Waterstones Book Prize 2020 and won the Costa Children’s Book Award 2019. Her latest book Tamarind And The Star Of Ishta was long-listed for the Blue Peter Award 2020. Follow @jasinbath on Twitter.



Peter Bunzl

Peter BunzlPeter grew up in South London in a rambling Victorian house with three cats, two dogs, one little sister, an antique dealer dad, and an artist mum. After art college and film school, Peter worked as an animator on commercials, pop videos, and two BAFTA-winning children’s TV shows, and wrote and directed several successful short films. Peter’s debut novel Cogheart was shortlisted for the Waterstones Book Prize and the Branford Boase. Moonlocket was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Readers award. Skycircus and Shadowsea were both nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Peter lives in North London with his partner, Michael, a fox who visits their garden, and a clutter of house spiders. Follow @peterbunzl on Twitter.


Cressida Cowell

Cressida CowellWaterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell MBE is the number one bestselling author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once book series. She has sold over 11 million books worldwide in 38 languages. How to Train Your Dragon is also an Academy Award nominated billion dollar DreamWorks film and tv series. Cressida is a trustee of World Book Day, a patron of Read for Good, an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust and the Woodland Trust, and she is on the Council of the Society of Authors. She is an honorary fellow of Keble College, Oxford, and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Brighton. She has won numerous prizes, including the Blue Peter Book Award, the Ruth Rendell Award for Championing Literacy, Gold Award in the Nestle Children’s Book Prize, the Hay Festival Medal for Fiction, and Philosophy Now magazine’s Award for Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity. She grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland and she now lives in Hammersmith with her husband, three children and a dog called Pigeon.Follow @cressidacowell on Twitter








Valerie Bloom

Valerie BloomValerie is one of the UK’s best loved poets.She grew up in Jamaica, but now lives in England. She is the author of several volumes of poetry for adults and children, picture books, pre-teen and teenage novels and stories for children, and has edited a number of collections of poetry for children. Her latest poetry collection is Stars With Flaming Tails, illustrated by Ken Wilson Max, published by Otter Barry Books. Valerie was awarded an Honorary Masters Degree from the University of Kent, and an MBE for services to poetry. She performs her poetry, runs writing workshops, and conducts training courses for teachers worldwide.



Joseph Coelho

Joseph CoelhoJoe grew up in the last village in London, Roehampton, in a tower block with his mum and little sister.  After university he was a gym instructor, a salesman, a film extra (see if you can spot him in Agent Cody Banks 2), a transport planner. In 2012 Janetta Otter-Barry published his poems after meeting her at the London Book Fair. His first poetry collection Werewolf Club Rules, illustrated by John O’Leary, was published in 2014 and he’s been steadily writing and performing ever since. His latest is The Girl Who Became a Tree, illustrated by Kate Milner, a story told in poems of a girl grieving for her father. Follow @josephacoelho on Twitter.





Dom Conlon

Dom Conlon - PoetDom Conlon is the double-Carnegie nominated author of This Rock That Rock (illustrated by Viviane Schwarz) and Leap, Hare, Leap! (illustrated by Anastasia Izlesou). His poetry has been published all over the blooming place, and Chris Riddell, Kate Clanchy and A F Harrold have said nice things about it. Dom was commissioned by the BBC in 2020 to write one of the poems for their national Make A Difference campaign. He’s fond of libraries, walking, and cake. Follow @dom_conlon on Twitter.






Gemma Cooper

Gemma CooperGemma is a director of the London office of the Bent Agency. She works with authors all over the world and sells directly topublishers in the UK, the US, Canada and Australia. Gemma has represented New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winners and many more. Her list is typified by big-concept, commercial series fiction. If you can describe your book in one line, or in an ‘X meets Y’ elevator pitch, she wants to read it. Gemma is very keen to see writers from under-represented communities, particularly those who write chapter books and middle-grade fiction. Follow @gemma_cooper on Twitter





Miriam Craig

Miriam CraigMiriam Craig writes books for children and teaches creative writing. She worked on My Golden Ticket, a personalised book published by Wonderbly and the estate of Roald Dahl, telling the story of the reader’s visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Miriam also writes poetry for adults and performs improv comedy. With Lorraine Gregory in 2014 she co-founded #ukmgchat, a popular Twitter chat for writers of middle grade books, to meet each other, share knowledge and discuss writing craft. Follow @miriamhcraig on Twitter.





Mo O’Hara

Mo O'HaraOriginally from America, Mo moved to London because she wanted to live abroad but spoke no foreign languages. After a brief and unsuccessful stint as a serving wench at the Tower of London Mo found work as an actress and comedy performer. Mo’s book My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish, illustrated by Marek Jagucki, was a New York Times best seller. Now, Mo lives in South London with her husband, her two kids and her two (slightly bitey) cats. Mo runs and loves travelling all over the world. Mo has toured all across the USA and the UK and has also visited schools and festivals in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She has volunteered with SCBWI for about 10 years and loves organising PULSE events with her partner in crime Candy Gourlay. Follow @mo_ohara on Twitter




Candy Gourlay

Candy Gourlay - AuthorCandy was born in the Philippines, grew up under a dictatorship and met her husband during a revolution. Her latest book is a comics biography for the First Names series (with illustrator Tom Knight) of the explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who happens to be credited with “discovering” the Philippines. Her novel Bone Talk was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Prize in 2019 – it is set in the moment when headhunting tribes in the Philippines come face to face with American invaders. Her novels have also been listed for the Waterstones, the Blue Peter and the Guardian Children’s Book Prize. She loves concocting new events for the SCBWI Pulse stream with Mo O’Hara. Follow @candygourlay on Twitter



Lorraine Gregory

Lorraine GregoryLorraine is the daughter of an Austrian mother and an Indian father raised on an East London Council Estate. It was when she started making up stories to entertain her son that she decided to follow her dream and try to get published. Her debut was Mold and the Poison Plot – a fast paced, fantasy adventure about a boy with a big heart and a nose to match – for which she won SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award. Her second book is The Maker of Monstersa fantasy adventure about a boy who must save the world from monsters and fight his own doubts too. Follow @authorontheedge on Twitter




Cath Howe

Cath Howe – AuthorCath runs arts events in schools and other venues, often using her own drama scripts and creative writing. This close contact with her readership brings authenticity and resonance to her fiction. Cath’s debut, Ella on the Outside, received outstanding reviews, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and won the North Somerset Teacher’s Award. It was followed by Not My Fault, an uplifting story of families, forgiveness and finding out who you are. Both books are published by Nosy Crow who will also publish her new novel How to Be Me in 2021. For schools, Cath has written highly acclaimed primary drama resource Let’s Perform. Follow @cath_howe on Twitter





Stephanie King

Stephanie KingStephanie is a Commissioning Fiction Editor at Usborne Publishing, where she joined as a fresh-faced assistant in 2007, and is lucky to have worked on books by their many incredible established and debut authors across all genres and age-ranges. She has acquired award-winning teen and middle-grade books and worked on younger illustrated fiction series. She also works in-house developing Young Reading series, Fairy Ponies. She is a strong (noisy) advocate for diversity in publishing and a Megaphone editor. Stephanie is looking for strong voices and compelling storytelling across all ages. She would especially love to fall in love with some teen romance, be reduced to hysterics by a funny young series, or be chilled to the bone by something deliciously creepy. Follow @beret_girl on Twitter



Em Lynas

Em LynasEm is a children’s author with a love of silly poetry, magic, and folklore. Em has been a shelf stacker, a shoe shop assistant, a primary school teacher, an educational publisher and now, an author of funny books. She created a website The Funeverse of funny poetry by children’s authors and illustrators. She is the author of the Witch School books, illustrated by Jamie Littler,  published by Nosy Crow. She lives by the seaside on the North East coast with her husband, Geoff, and although she did have pets when her children lived at home; hamsters, guinea pigs, a rabbit and a jar of stick insects, she is currently petless.  Follow @emlynas on Twitter.






James Nicol

James NicolJames has loved books and stories his whole life. As a child he spent hours absorbed in novels, watching epic 1980s cartoons or adventuring in the wood at the bottom of the garden searching for monsters and witches. He has worked as a bookseller and still works part time as a librarian when to writing. He is the author of the bestselling Apprentice Witch series.  He lives in Yorkshire in a house with too many books and to many musical instruments with his partner and a black and white cockapoo called Bonnie. Follow @jamesenicol on Twitter




Jasmine Richards

Jasmine RichardsJasmine was born in London, grew up in a library, and was the first in her family to go to university. After graduating from Oxford, and following a brief stint at New Scotland Yard, she chose a career in publishing over being the next Sherlock Holmes. Today she is the founder of Storymix, a children’s fiction development studio that creates inclusive stories and nurtures voices from under-represented backgrounds in children’s books. She is the author of several middle grade books including The Book of Wonders, a magical fantasyand Oliver Twisted, a  horror Dickens mashup. Follow @jrichardsauthor and @storymixstudio on Twitter





Rashmi Sirdeshpande

Rashmi SirdeshpandeRashmi is a lawyer turned children’s author who loves taking big ideas and making them accessible and exciting for young readers. She writes uplifting and inspiring picture books and non-fiction. Her non-fiction work includes Dosh: How To Earn It, Spend It, Grow It, Give It, illustrated by Adam Hayes, and How To Change The World, illustrated by Annabel Tempest. Follow @RashmiWriting on Twitter






Kate Shaw

Kate ShawKate has spent all her career in publishing, first as a publicist at Penguin and then as an agent at Aitken Alexander and The Viney Agency before founding The Shaw Agency in 2019.
She has promoted Booker-shortlisted authors, discovered Sunday Times-bestselling writers and represented multiple award-winning books that have sold millions of copies worldwide in dozens of languages and been optioned for film & TV. She represents the Blue Peter Best Story winner of 2020 Vashti Hardy and 30 other writers including Holly Smale, James Nicol and Serena Patel. Kate’s passions are stories that make her laugh and cry, strong characters and great hooks. Follow @katejshaw on Twitter



Louie Stowell

Louie StowellLouie Stowell is an author of fiction and non-fiction for children. She’s written everything from books about space and coding to novels about wizards and fairies. Her non-fiction includes Write Your Own Story Book and Politics for Beginners as well as The Astronaut’s Handbook. After 15 years working in publishing she’s made the leap to full-time writer. She’s published a funny, magical trilogy with Nosy Crow:The Dragon in the Library, the Monster in the Lake and The Wizard in the Wood (illustrated by Davide Ortu). Her next book is a standalone darkly-funny middle grade about fairies and stolen children from Nosy Crow called Otherland, out in May 2021. Follow @louiestowell on Twitter



Felicity Trew

Talented, enthusiastic and energetic, Felicity Trew is keenly building up a list of children’s writers and illustrators at the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency. Clients she already represents include award-winning authors, Joseph Coelho, Mitch Johnson, Manjeet Mann and Swapna Haddow. Her list of illustrators include the internationally acclaimed Yuval Zommer, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize shortlistee, Sandra Dieckmann, and Katz Cowley, illustrator of the global sensation, The Wonky Donkey. Felicity has a particular love for adventurous, quirky and imaginative middle grade children’s books and loves a strong hook and powerful voice. Follow @felicitytrew on Twitter