#SCBWICON15 1-2-1s set Anna's heart a-flutter

The North West Crew

The drums, the drums! 

As a newbie to conference, there was one part of the weekend that I was looking forward to and dreading in equal measure. 

No, it wasn’t putting on my mermaid wig for the Pirate Party (that never happened in the end – Dolly Parton on a bad day before her makeup wasn’t what I was aiming for). Rather, it was the 1-2-1 with an agent or editor. 

Turning up on the Saturday morning my first job was to establish a source of caffeine; my second was to see when and with whom was my meeting. I have an agent but I’m still after that elusive deal so I had asked in advance if I could meet with an editor rather than an agent. I was very happy to see that the wonderful SCBWI fairies who had organised the 1-2-1s (Liz and Addy) had accommodated my wish. Thank you! 

My slot was on Saturday afternoon. As it grew nearer, I began to feel more nervous than I had anticipated. The chapters I had submitted were for a fantasy YA novel I’ve been working on this year. I’ve had success with contemporary YA comic fiction: it got me an agent, a distinction in my MA, interest but no deal from a few big publishing houses and good reviews and sales for my then self-published book, ‘The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones’. But in my heart I’m still the girl who read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ when she was seven and was transported into another world. 

My new novel has been critiqued by the fantabulous North West SCBWI YA group and their feedback has been hugely helpful and encouraging. But in the past when I’ve written fantasy and all the professional feedback has been ‘good but not good enough. Stick to your funny writing.’ So this editor would be the first professional feedback on my new project. If she said she didn’t like it at all, then it would be a huge blow. 

The time drew near. 

Ever inspiring McIntyre & Reeves
I absented myself from watching the ever inspiring McIntyre and Reeves and joined a small but anxious group of writers waiting outside the hallowed 1-2-1 room. I wished I’d dressed for the occasion rather than the cold. I wished I’d re-read my synopsis over lunch. In particular I wished that the drums in the nearby rehearsal room weren’t playing quite such ominous music. 

Note to conference organisers – perhaps a glass of prosecco might be rather nice whilst we waited? It would certainly lessen the nerves and might have led to the odd nervous jig to the drums as we passed the time before our slots. 

One writer left the room and muttered to us darkly that we needed our flak jackets. A bad meeting or was it just to unsettle us further? Before I had time to react much, in I went for my meeting. Well, all I will say is that I left the room much happier than I went in. 

She liked my chapters and made lots of helpful suggestions. It turns about I can write fantasy after all. My inner child reader was ecstatic. Huge sigh of relief. Perhaps a glass of prosecco on the way out would also be pleasant – to celebrate or commiserate. Even without that, I almost floated down the hill back to my hotel before the piratical shenanigans of the evening were due to commence. 

Just before leaving - I'm in there somewhere!

I had a great conference. I loved spending time with my friends, meeting new friends, the workshops, the Friday meal, the party. I loved having a heated disagreement over the use of semi-colons. But the opportunity to meet an industry professional and to get detailed feedback on my work is one of my most sparkly highlights. 

Anna Mainwaring read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ when she was seven and hasn’t stopped reading since. After working in banking, she became a teacher, where her passion for writing for young people developed. When not teaching or looking after two daughters, she can either be found writing in wine bars or walking up hills. She lives in Cheshire with her family and a murderous goldfish.


  1. Prossecco! Why didn't we think of that?!

  2. Love the idea of a bit of bubbly to calm the nerves beforehand. As a fellow one-to-oner at previous conferences I can relate to that! Might need a side dish of Extra Strong Mints to accompany it though? : )


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