Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Writers’ Retreat 2019

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Date(s) - 22/03/2019 - 25/03/2019

Holland House
Main Street - Cropthorne Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3NB


DATES: 22nd – 25th March 2019

LOCATION: Holland House, Cropthorne


Need some inspired writing time to kick off the year? The popular SCBWI Writers Retreat moves to Holland House, Cropthorne, 22nd-25th March, 2019. Set among three acres of gardens on the River Avon, it’s the perfect place to relax, focus, and learn.

Joining us will be best-selling author Matt Killeen, agent Becky Bagnell of the Lindsay Literary Agency, and Liz Cross, Head of Publishing at OUP.

One-to-one sessions with a retreat speaker can be booked in advance.

Matt Killeen – How to be an Overnight Success (in just eight years)

In 2014, Matt Killeen was a SCBWI Retreat delegate. Three short years later, his YA debut Orphan Monster Spyand its sequel were the focus of a heated auction for UK and US rights, translation rights were pre-empted in Spain, Brazil, Romania and Poland, and bought at auction by Garzanti in Italy. The book, described as “jaw-dropping” and “a stunning, smart, grounded tale of intrigue in Nazi Germany”, is now a US bestseller and Matt himself has been described as a “formidable talent.” He takes us through his journey to publication, including advice on approaching agents, getting published, and dealing with life when your book finally hits the shelves. Since agreeing to join us at the retreat, Matt has been nominated for the Carnegie Award and shortlisted for the Costa. The talk will be followed by a Q&A session.

Becky Bagnell: What Makes a Standout Agent Submission?

What are the magical ingredients that will make an agent say ‘yes’? Becky Bagnell takes us through the submission process from an agent’s perspective.What really works in a manuscript? What really doesn’t? And what is important to agents when looking for new talent? Becky tells us what agents look for, and how they can help an author achieve success. The talk will be followed by a Q&A session.

Liz Cross: View From a Publisher

A chance to hear from one of the most exciting publishers in children’s fiction. What makes a manuscript irresistible? How rocky is the journey from acquisition to publication? What are the different ways an author can work with publishers? And what qualities reallymake a great book? The talk will be followed by a Q&A session.


Matt Killeen was born in Birmingham and, like many of his generation, was absorbed by tales of the war and obsessed with football from an early age. He has had a great many careers – some creative, some involving laser guns – and has made a living as an advertising copywriter and largely ignored music and sports journalist. He fulfilled a childhood ambition and became a writer for the world’s best-loved toy company in 2010, as it wasn’t possible to be an X-wing pilot. He lives near London with his soulmate, children, dog and musical instruments, looking wistfully north to a hometown that has been mostly demolished & rebuilt in his lengthy absence.

His debut novel, Orphan Monster Spy, is a US Bestseller.



Becky Bagnell is the founder of the Lindsay Literary Agency and has worked in publishing for over 20 years.

Becky started her career whilst still a student at Trinity College Dublin, reading manuscripts for the Lilliput Press and being paid initially only in books. She then moved to Macmillan in London and was fortunate to edit and work with many award-winning authors including John Simpson and Max Hastings. It was here that she commissioned her first bestselling title, Bear Grylls’ autobiographical debut, Facing Up.

Becky launched the Lindsay Literary Agency 10 years ago, setting out to find unique and original voices and creating her list from scratch. Becky’s clients have since 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.

Liz Cross started her career as assistant to David Fickling at Scholastic, and then as a copy editor at Walker Books, before returning to Scholastic where, as Head of Fiction, her discovery of Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engineslaunched him from illustrator to award winning writer. She has been Head of Publishing, Children’s, at OUP since 2000, where titles include the hugely successful Winnie and Wilburbooks, Pippi Longstocking, Isadora Moon, and authors such as Gill Lewis and Ali Sparkes, the Demon Headmasterseries and Jo Cotterill’s Electrigirl. At OUP she continues to publish Reeve’s novels as well as his collaborations with the fabulous Sarah McIntyre.


As part of the weekend, you will be offered a 15 minute one-to-one with Matt, Becky or Liz (subject to availability). You will be required to email material in advance for this. We will try our best to match you with your requested speaker, but please be aware that you may not get your first choice.


Accommodation and all meals are included. Special diets are catered for. Please advise us when booking if you have mobility issues.

For more information about the venue, please see:


The total price for accommodation, all meals, talks and a one-to-one is:

£345 for members

£385 for non-members

To book your place, please pay a deposit of £50. The balance of payment will be payable by BACS by 31st December 2018.

If you require a payment plan, or have any other questions, please email Susan and Philippa on .

We can be found on Twitter at @suzebain and @lockwoodwriter, and will be tweeting under the hashtag #SCBWIRetreat2019


This event is fully booked.