Call Yourself An Author? Sarah McIntyre on Pulse

By Candy Gourlay

Sarah McIntyre
I'm part of the Pulse team led by Mo O'Hara that is trying to create events that would be relevant to the burgeoning ranks of published SCBWI members. The thing about published people, see, is that they have fierce opinions of their own, and any panel or talk we create for them would have to respect that. Our first pulse event was a discussion of who could call themselves an author with Sarah McIntyre - following Sarah's campaign #PicturesMeanBusiness for illustrators to be recognised as equal partners to writers in authoring work.

Writing this now, it feels like our event happened AGES ago. So much has happened. Most recently Sarah's campaign got the thumbs up from our new children's laureate Chris Riddell.

And just as exciting: Loretta Schauer and I are currently representing SCBWI in a working group (headed by Sarah McIntyre and including the Society of Authors and other groups) trying to actually effect real change to the culture that led to the problems being highlighted by the Pictures Mean Business campaign. But I am rushing ahead of my story.

What you need to know

In case you've been living under a rock this past year, here are the facts. The issues came to rise after the Carnegie Medal/Kate Greenaway long-lists were announced. Oliver and the Seawigs, the book co-authored by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre was nominated for the Carnegie but only Philip appeared on the nomination. Sarah, who illustrated it but also closely collaborated on the story, was left off the nominations list.

Sarah quite bravely queried the Carnegie's definition of 'author'. Her forthright challenge resulted in a revision of the long-list and a re-examination of the august award's rules -- good on the Carnegie librarians to accept that there was a problem. The Bookseller reported on it here.

Our Pulse Evening

The turn-out was fantastic. Moira McPartlin and Christina Banach all the way from Scotland; authors Jo Franklin, Miriam Halahmy, Odette Elliott, Nicole Burstein; author-illustrators Kate Pankhurst (from up North), Bridget Marzo, Sally Kindberg, Anne Marie Perks, Heather Kilgour, Loretta Schauer, Shanarama, Deborah Allwright ... among others.

Even better, the journalist Charlotte Eyre, who's been reporting on this issue, attended. Joy Court, chair of the Carnegie Working Committee, arrived out of the blue, paid her three pounds entrance fee, and promptly agreed to become a panelist.

Joy Court
Joy Court, Charlotte Eyre, Sarah McIntyre

When we were planning it, Mo and I had agreed that the event had to be a free wheeling conversation - with the audience just as involved as the guests of honour. 

The idea paid back in huge dividends, many anecdotes shared, questions asked -- with answers just as likely to come from the audience as the panel. There was a real feeling of accumulated wisdom in the room. 

I have blogged in more detail about the summary of issues that emerged from the exchange. You can read them on my blog post Pictures Mean Literacy.

Since it was the first ever Talking About event for Pulse, Mo and I brought in crisps and gingerbread men. Photo: Sarah McIntyre
Sarah McIntyre has since created a website for the Pictures Means Business Campaign. You can visit it here.
Most photos by Candy Gourlay

Candy Gourlay's latest book SHINE was nominated for the Guardian Fiction Prize. She blogs on Notes from the Slushpile, a team blog for writers, and on her own author blog

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