What made you decide to volunteer to be Network Coordinator?
I am a huge fan of SCBWI. One-to-ones at the SCBWI conferences in Winchester gave me the confidence to keep writing and I first met my agent at a SCBWI Agents' Party.
What have you yourself gained from belonging to a network?I've loved meeting other SCBWI members who understand all the ups and downs of the writing process. I've also found SCBWI critique groups invaluable for advice on my writing.
So, what do you think characterises the southeast?I think there is a real buzz in the South East. Lots of members with loads of energy and enthusiasm and a wealth of good ideas. What's not to like?!
Tell us about your own writing?
I am passionate about middle grade since studying for an MA in Writing for Children at the University of Winchester. That’s when I first came across Holes by Louis Sachar which inspired me to mix contemporary stories with historical ones. I enjoy research. So, I like to discover and write about unusual events. At the moment I am focusing on the Second World War.
... and about yourself?I live in Sussex on the edge of the Ashdown Forest with my husband and three children and write pretty much every day. When I'm not writing, I love to run with my dogs listening to a children's audiobook.
Do you have any new plans for the south east
I'm planning to visit as many SE groups as possible over the next few months to meet members to get a real feel for what everyone wants from the SE. If you haven't contacted me yet about your group, I'd really love to hear from you. The plan is for Anita Loughrey to join me in my role shortly. As many of you already know, she is a brilliant events organiser. So, exciting times ahead, I hope!
Are you welcoming new members at the moment and if so, how should they contact you?Yes! We'd love new members and I'd be delighted to hear from anyone who is interested in joining. I am also relaunching the Tunbridge Wells Critique Group on Thursday 30th April If anyone who lives in Kent/Sussex/Surrey would like to join us. Please get in contact for further details or any questions about the SE Network by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gill James also has an MA in Writing for Children form Winchester (then called King Alfred's College!)
She now teaches Creative Writing at the University of Salford. She continues to write for children and young adults.