Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


Author and Illustrator Masterclasses!

Book now for Author Masterclass Series 2019


Saturday 16th March – POETRY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE: Debunk the poetry myth and harness its power with performance poet, Jasmine Gardosi

Engaging younger audiences with poetry can be hard. Some of the common misconceptions of poetry – that it’s difficult to understand, and isn’t relatable – can stop many young people from wanting to learn more. The reality is very different, with an exploding culture of spoken word, Instapoetry and political conversation.

This masterclass will teach you how to engage teenagers and young adults through poetry and debunk these myths. You might be a poet who wants to expand your audience, a fiction writer who wants to reach young people in a new way, or an educator wishing to engage students in the art form. During the class, you will learn ways to write and adapt work into poetry to capture the interest of young people. Linking to the current poetry landscape and focusing on spoken word performance, social media, and engagement with specific topical issues, Jasmine will suggest ways in which you can adapt poetry for your own needs.

Jasmine Gardosi is a multiple slam champion, BBC Slam finalist and Birmingham Poet Laureate finalist. Having previously appeared on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, BBC Asian Network and at Glastonbury Festival, she performs regularly around the UK and has been featured by Button Poetry as Outstanding International Entry in their 2017 video contest, for which she received an Honourable Mention. She runs West Midlands Poets’ Place and other school and community workshops, including CPD and specialist sessions on creative sex education and LGBTQ issues. Find out more from: @jasminegardosi

Saturday 4th May – INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE: Worldbuilding and Rulebreaking – through the Secret Door with Penny Thomas, Publisher, Firefly Press

Follow the robin to find the key, open the wardrobe door, or sneak onto platform nine and three quarters and you find yourself in a different world. Children’s classics do this with brilliance, but how do you go about creating your brave new world and then convincing publishers to take a peek inside it, let alone readers? And how much has the route changed since the much-loved stories we may have grown up with were published? In this masterclass, Firefly Press publisher Penny Thomas will chart some of the possible paths for writers of children’s fiction to create compelling new worlds and the pitfalls they need to look out for along the way.

Penny Thomas is co-founder of the award-winning independent children’s publisher Firefly Press, set up in 2013 to publish quality fiction for five to 19 year olds. Firefly publishes authors including Catherine Fisher, Horatio Clare, Jennifer Killick, Kat Ellis, Sarah Govett and Eloise Williams. Penny has a degree in English Language and Literature from Keble College, Oxford, is a trained journalist, and has worked in regional publishing for 15 years, winning the Branford Bose Award as the editor of a best first children’s novel in 2016 with Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare. A lifelong lover of children’s books, she lives in Cardiff with her two children. Find out more from: @fireflypress

Saturday 14th September – FICTION FOCUS: Character-Driven Plots: Writing from the Inside Out with author, Jo Cotterill

Do you find it hard to plot? Jo Cotterill will introduce you to her own style of planning, which involves looking at the emotional character arc first, the story arc second (the one tends to naturally follow the other). Come and learn how to create fully-rounded, interesting characters that belong in
any genre and pull on readers’ heartstrings. What’s The Turning Point? And why does Jo drop her characters in The Pit towards the end? What are the advantages to letting your character drive the story and create their own plot? This approach to writing focuses strongly on empathy, and is likely
to involve some interactive (non-frightening!) drama exercises as well as plenty of writing and feedback time.

Jo Cotterill’s books, Looking at the Stars and A Library of Lemons have scooped six awards between them, as well as shortlistings for many others and nominations for the Carnegie Medal. Since 2004 she has published 40 books with multiple publishers and for all age groups. Jo prefers to write contemporary stories that focus on real-life struggles faced by many families, though she believes strongly that all stories should end with hope. Her latest novel for 8-12s is Jelly, published by Piccadilly Press and featuring an overweight girl with hidden talents.

Find out more from: and @jocotterillbook

Saturday 19th October – PICTURE BOOK FOCUS: The Big Picture – creating a successful non-fiction picture book with author, Catherine Barr

From ideas through to expert advice, publishers’ meetings, illustrator partnerships, stage and school events, Catherine Barr will share her own experience of an unplanned journey to becoming a children’s non-fiction picture book writer. Through discussion and individual work groups, participants will also have the chance to explore the challenges (and joys) of finding an idea, making a pitch, exploring media opportunities and engaging children on stage and in the classroom with their story. Questions are welcome throughout this journey into the heart of what makes a successful non-fiction picture book.

Catherine Barr campaigned with Greenpeace before training as a journalist and becoming Editor at the Natural History Museum, writing summer exhibitions. She worked on strategic communications with charities and wrote her first book in 2015. The Story of Life: a first book on evolution was shortlisted for The English Association Picture Book Award and longlisted for the School Library Association Information Book Awards. Catherine is currently working with five different publishers and has eleven published picture books. She is Patron of Reading for a local school and mother of two teenage girls.

Venue: The Theodore Bullfrog Pub, First floor meeting room, 26-30 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HL

Time: All classes start at 12:00pm with a break for lunch from 1pm until 1:30pm. Class finishes at 4:00pm.

Cost: PRICES HELD FROM 2016! £35 per class for SCBWI members, £42 for non members, £128 special SCBWI member discount when you book for four classes. (All prices include pre-ordered lunchtime food and an afternoon tea or coffee.)

Places are limited and can be booked online at

All events are subject to change, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Alison Smith and Cath Jones at:

Please note that unfortunately we are unable to offer any refunds unless the Masterclass is cancelled. The programme may be subject to change.