By Gill James
Anita Gallo and Sarah Broadley are the new Southeast Scotland coordinators. They answered a few questions for me recently.
Why is SCBWI important to you?
SB – if it wasn't for SCBWI I would still be in my writing cave, creating stories and thinking that everything was just fine in my writing world. Since July 2013, when I met up with SCBWI members at the Edinburgh International Book festival for the first time, I now have a supportive and amazing writing family.
AG – Writing can be insular, but since I joined SCBWI it has felt like working as part of a team. We’re all writing our own thing but with friendly support, encouragement and critique groups to keep us going.
Tell us something about how you got interested in writing for children.
SB – My youngest son is amblyopic and we had many sad and tearful visits to the eye clinic when he was very young. There was no literature available for me to share with him that was even remotely aimed at children attending the tests, so I developed a rhyming story for children going through patching treatment. It is now passed on to young patients and their carers at Moorfield Eye Hospital and the Royal College of Optometrists as an on-line story. I realised then that words can make such a difference and I haven't stopped writing since.
AG – Ah, this is a bit of a long story, but I had been working as a playwright and was asked if I would write a play for children with special needs. I said yes, then spent the next three weeks in a state of blind panic. We didn’t have any children (yet) and I had no idea how to handle a child audience, or if I ever could. Eventually, I forced myself to sit at my desk and start writing… and the rest, if you will pardon the cliché, is history. I loved every minute of it and went on to write another five plays for the same company and have been working in children’s ever since.
Why do you think the networks are important for SCBWI members?
SB - SCBWI is what encourages me to carry on, to get the advice I need to get to the next level. Our network encourages other cave-dwellers to step outside every once in a while and realise that they are not alone. The support and friendships gained since I joined are priceless to me and I couldn't wish for a more inclusive society to be a member of.
AG – I think for the same reason SCBWI is so important to me, it’s a network of people with shared interests and shared goals.
Tell us a little about current SCBWI activities in South East Scotland
We have five critique groups running which span all genres including an illustrators group, and we have a book group (of adults) reading children’s fiction. We also host various literary teach-ins, workshops and events, and have an active Facebook page where we keep members up to date with current writing opportunities.
Do you have any new plans?
As we are new to the role of network co-ordinators, we have many ideas in the pipeline that we are working on for the South East Scotland network. Our Christmas social is booked for the 4th December and we can't wait for the conference! We have a savvy internet security workshop planned for early next year along with a mindfulness workshop to keep us all focussed and stress-free as we create...watch this space!
How can members contact you?
If you live north of the border or are a visiting SCBWI from another region, we would love to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah and Anita