More Conference Round Up #scbwicon15

Sarah Dukes & Jonny Duddle

With the annual conference buzz still strong, we hear from conference newbie Sarah Dukes, along with debut author, and returnee conference-goer, Olivia Levez. 

Sarah Dukes: 


I’ve just come back from my first ever annual SCBWI Conference, held in Winchester. This year’s was entitled New Readers Ahoy, and promised a mix of inspiration, opportunity, fun and learning. Wow–I was not disappointed. I learnt loads–what an agent is looking for, how a publisher sells books, the importance of patience, the value of belonging to a vibrant community of individuals. I had so much fun. 

The Hook

And I was so inspired–primarily because the overarching theme of the conference was one of connection. 

Natascha Biebow began with an excellent talk on how reading encourages empathy. She showed us a beautifully animated and funny RSA short by Dr Brené Brown, focusing on how empathy fuels connections–and sitting in the auditorium, amongst pre-published and published writers and illustrators, that’s exactly how I felt–connected. 

Jonny Duddle

I felt even more connected whilst singing along to a song George Kirk created to introduce double act Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeves. The outlandish duo shared the best ways to connect with kids on school visits (I’m finding it hard to disconnect from their immensely catchy ‘eep eep eep eep’ song…); the gorgeously talented Jonny Duddle told how events in his life connected to create his pirate best-sellers; and David Fickling reminded us of the ultimate connection, the one that fuels my desire to be a writer: that books bring stories to the world. 

'Yip, yip, yip,' it's Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre

Olivia Levez: 

A Treasured Hoard: Conference Highlights 

Reporting for duty: Olivia Levez, Sarah Dukes,
Natalie Yates & Katherine Lynas

As always, it was impossible to come back from the 2015 Annual SCBWI Conference without being inspired by a treasure trove of industry gems: 

Whether it was the wise rapscallion David Fickling, who taught us all to dance to a different beat; the swashbuckling performance of Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve as they took us through a hilarious but realistic game of life to win the ultimate prize of a book-shaped swimming pool, or the sensitive and soulful opening speech by Natasha Biebow on the fundamental importance of books in teaching empathy. (There were a few glittering eyes in the auditorium, and the conference had barely begun.) 

Or whether it was watching doughty contestants walk the gangplank to the waiting agents, pitching but not sinking as they hooked us all with incredible aplomb–every one of them deserved a gold doubloon or two. 

Debut Debrief: Jasmine Richards, Mo O'Hara & Candy Gourlay.

There was the useful and detailed discussion on the relationship between publisher and author, with the wonderful Jasmine Richards scattering jewels of wisdom for all of us debut authors. 

And Candy Gourlay effortlessly teaching us all to solve the knotty problems of structure, lightbulbs popping on all round the auditorium as we wrestled with our tricky midpoints. 

And a thought-provoking and candid discussion on The Editor in the Room, covering all manner of topics, from the pressure to second-guess the market, to managing business strategy; from learning the secrets behind how to shoot to the best-seller list to issues of diversity. 

School Visits. Loving the wig Nick Cross!

We watched experts Sara Grant, Mo O’Hara and Steve ‘Big Pants’ Hartley at work as they shared their secrets of school visits. 

We indulged our inner Seawig-wearer at the Mass Book Launch. We were entertained by Jonny Duddle, ‘a self-confessed pescatarian pirate’, who regaled us with his inspiring and zigzagging course to published author/illustrator of such gems as The Pirate Cruncher

What a hoard! 

So, heads full and clutching our golden nuggets, we journeyed home, ready to navigate the seas once more. 

(Apologies for extended metaphor…) 

Kathy Evans & co - SEAWIG extraordinaire! 

Thank you Sarah and Olivia – great insight to the already legendary #scbwicon15


  1. A great round-up of the weekend. I don't think we'll ever forget David Fickling's call to dance... Thank you.

  2. Wonderful round-up. It was almost like being there! Thank you!


We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.