SCBWI-BI CONFERENCE 2018 Stop press!

Heads up: we have a new keynote speaker. AJ de Montjoie, Co-Chair SCBWI Conference updates us on this and all the latest conference developments. 


Things are moving forwards in time really rapidly for our amazing conference and I must admit that if I could find a Tardis, I would be requesting a rewind. Firstly, it is with great sadness that Tracy and I have to announce that, due to personal circumstances, Tanya Landman can no longer act as Keynote for our conference. We are extremely grateful to Tanya for stepping up. Although she can’t make it this time, we will be back in touch in the future, as clearly, she has some wonderful insight to offer into writing historical fiction.But on the plus side, we have two fantastic time-hopping replacements for Tanya.

Our new keynote: Catherine Johnson.

Our new keynote speaker will be Catherine Johnson. Catherine has been published for 25 years and written 20 books for young readers including historical fiction for young adults. You can read all about her wonderful work here.

She has been nominated for both the Carnegie medal and the YA book Award, and in 2014 she won the Young Quills Prize in Historical Fiction for children with her book Sawbones. This intriguing book is a forensic murder mystery set 226 years before CSI; so when it comes to time travel, Catherine has it sorted. With a host of historical novels under her belt, Catherine is perfect to join the amazing team of time-travelling speakers.

Catherine is going to run our Sunday morning workshop, Inciting the Incident, and when she comes up to breathe after taking on the keynote, we will have more details about that. In the afternoon, we have another super speaker, who has kindly offered to run the afternoon workshop, the wonderful, Sophia Bennett. Sophia’s debut novel, Threads, won The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition in 2009. She has since published several further books for teens, including The LookLove Song, which won the Romantic Novel of the Year, and the historical Ophelia series based on the Pre-Raphaelites.

Sophia Bennett.

Sophia was delighted to be the guest author at the SCBWI retreat earlier this year, giving workshops on editing and dialogue. Her books have sold internationally to over 16 countries and a new non-fiction book on female artists will be out next year. You can read all about Sophia’s books and more about her here.

Sophia’s afternoon workshop will be on creating a believable historical world. She has plenty to say on the subject, from maps to clothes to graveyards, letters, architecture and paint. Not to be missed! Keep an eye on the website over the next week as we update it with all the details.

We will automatically move you from Tanya’s workshop into the new ones. Please be kind to us and try not to make requests to change. As you can imagine, we have had to pull this together — and thanks to an energetic conference team and brilliant authors we still have an amazing programme. We’re also really excited to meet everyone and join in the fun. If you have never been to the conference before, please come and say, ‘hi’ to any of the volunteers. We will all happily help you.

You can also check the website for plenty of tips on being a first timer.

*Featured image: Gingerbread Tardis,, from the book Doctor Who: The Official Cookbook by Joanna Farrow.

AJ de Montjoie is Co-Chair of the SCBWI Conference. Find out about her, Co-Chair Tracy Liennard and the other volunteers on the conference pages, here.

Fran Price is Events Editor at Words and Pictures Magazine, the online magazine for SCBWI-BI. Contact her at

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