Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


Author and Illustrator Masterclasses

Book now for Author Masterclass Series 2020

Saturday 7th March

INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE with Rachel Hickman, deputy managing director of Chicken House Books

Rachel’s Masterclass will explore what Chicken House looks for in a children’s book and how that might differ to others; what you can do to increase your chances of publication and what it means to actually be published: the good, the bad, and the beautiful.

Rachel Hickman has been at Chicken House since its inception. She has worked with Barry Cunningham for more than twenty years – combining Barry’s boundless enthusiasm and talent spotting with her own strategic good sense, creativity and art management.

Rachel wanted to work in children’s books since joining the Puffin Club as a child. After a degree in English and Publishing, she began a career that has spanned thirty years including ten years at Penguin Children’s Books and Harper Collins Children’s Books. Rachel has worked with some of the most famous names in children’s publishing including Roald Dahl, Judith Kerr, Roger McGough and Posy Simmonds – and more recently Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Cornelia Funke.

She lives in the countryside on the Wiltshire/Dorset border. Her first novel for young teens, One Silver Summer, was published by Old Barn Books and Scholastic Inc. in 2016.

Find out more from:       @hickman_rachel

Saturday 9th May

PLOT PERFECT: From Pantser to Plotter – Pulling your story in line with award-winning author, Patrice Lawrence

Have you opened the Comic Toolbox? Have you spread out your long paper and drawn? Will kishotenketsu add shape to your horror or should you stick with old school beginning, middle and end? I start my books with characters, free-writing to find the story. Then I get to work on the plot. This workshop will explore ways to help you get your plot to work.

Patrice Lawrence is an award-winning writer of stories for children and young people. Orangeboy, her debut book for young adults was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award, won the Bookseller YA Prize and Waterstones Prize for Older Children’s Fiction and has been shortlisted for
many regional awards. Indigo Donut, her second book about young adults, was published in July 2017. It was book of the week in the The Times, Sunday Times and Observer and one of The Times top children’s books in 2017. Both books have been nominated for the Carnegie Award.

Find out more from: The Lawrence Line  @LawrencePatrice

Saturday 12th September

FICTION FOCUS: Magic and Science Fiction: Making the impossible possible with author of critically acclaimed children’s fiction, Ross Welford

When it comes to creating fantastical stories, children’s writers are often drawn to magic. Imaginary, alternative worlds where the normal rules of science (or, more conveniently, some of the rules of science) do not apply have an obvious appeal and have been popular for years. Science Fiction is seen as an entirely separate genre: but is it really? Are we just devising different ways of making impossible things happen?

Referencing his own writing process and other stories, Ross will talk about how he creates “rules” for the magical things that happen in his stories. He will also explore how to keep the story grounded in real-life to create a type of “magical realism”, ending up with a fictional world that is simultaneously believable and unbelievable.

Ross Welford’s first middle-grade novel, Time Travelling With A Hamster, was released to popular and critical acclaim in 2016. A fifth book The Kid Who Came From Space will be published in January 2020. Before turning to writing, Ross was a journalist and TV producer, working on shows as diverse as This Morning, The Big Breakfast and Bridezillas. He lives in London with his family.

Find out more from:  @rosswelford

Saturday 17th October  

PICTURE BOOK FOCUS with best-selling children’s author, Kes Gray

Kes Gray has been on a twenty year children’s author journey. He will talk about the uncertainties of becoming a children’s author, the realities of being a children’s author and the book that changed his life. More details to follow. See SCBWI website.

Kes Gray is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 50 books for children. His critically acclaimed picture book, Oi Frog! (Hodder) illustrated by Jim Field was followed by others in the series including Oi Dog!, Oi Duck Billed Platypus! and most recently Oi Puppies! He also created the bestselling Daisy series (Random House) illustrated by Nick Sharratt and Gary Parsons and is the winner of the Red House Children’s Book Award for Eat Your PeasBilly’s Bucket and Daisy and the Trouble With Zoos (Random House). The Independent listed him as one of the top ten children’s authors in the UK a year after he published his first book. Kes lives with his wife and family in Essex.

Find out more from:

Class Information for 2020 Masterclass Series:

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: £35 per class for SCBWI members, £45 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

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Alison Smith and Cath Jones at:


  •  Once you’ve booked it is vital that you add the Masterclass email to your address book so that our emails do not end up in your junk folder.
  •  We are unable to offer any refunds unless the Masterclass is cancelled and will not be operating a waiting list. If you cannot make the class, you are welcome to find someone to take your place and arrange for them to refund you, but you must advise us of their name and supply them with all necessary details of the event.
  • A light lunch is included in the price of your Masterclass ticket.  However, if you do not reply with your choice of food by the specified order deadline you will have to order on the day. In this instance, we cannot guarantee that the venue’s kitchen will be able to provide you with your desired choice of food.
  • The programme may be subject to change. 


Illustrators’ Masterclasses are listed on the For Illustrators page