Plans for the 2019 conference are in full swing. Co-chair Georgina Lippiett gives us a taster of what's in store this November.

As you will no doubt have seen from our beautiful new banner, Geraldine McCaughrean is this year’s author keynote and we couldn’t be more delighted.

Geraldine’s back catalogue is astounding; she’s written over 170 books, has won countless awards and can turn her hand to anything from fantasy to funny to fairytales. We’re so excited she’s agreed to come and share some of her hard-won wisdom with us.

Our keynote speaker: Geraldine McCaughrean.

And have you seen who our illustrator keynote is? It’s only Mini Grey! On Saturday she’ll be telling us about her adventures as a Greenaway medal winning author/illustrator. Then on Sunday she’ll lead two workshops. A morning session for illustrators, on how to generate characters and story ideas, followed by an afternoon session for author/illustrators experimenting with story boarding, book formats and the interplay between pictures and words.

Our PULSE keynote is Nicola Solomon. She’s been recognised by Women of the Year, is a tireless campaigner for the fair treatment of published authors, and a champion of our libraries. As the Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, she has a great overview as well as detailed insights into the issues facing the industry today. We’re thrilled to have her and look forward to hearing what she has to say.

Scholastic art director Strawberrie Donelly.

In other wonderful news, Strawberrie Donelly, Art Director at Scholastic (along with an agent yet to be announced), will head up our First Impressions panel. They’ll spill the beans on what they look for in an illustrator and how to make the best of your submission, as well as offer the chance to submit your work to them beforehand, so they can choose an example and share honest feedback with the group.

The ever-popular Hook will be back, where five writers get the chance to pitch their story and themselves to a panel of agents in front of a live audience

We’re also pleased to tell you that Aimée Felone, the Co-Founder of publishers Knights Of, along with illustrator Selom Suno, will talk about the magic of inclusivity and representation. Diversity has been a much talked-about topic over the last few years, but rarely do we see a publisher put the issue front and centre, to the extent that they act on the problem by setting up their own bookshop. They’re striving to put smiles on the faces of families everywhere, with books that represent them in pictures, in stories, and on front covers.

Aimée Felone. (Picture credit:

The ever-popular Hook will be back, where five writers get the chance to pitch their story and themselves to a panel of agents in front of a live audience. And our regular Speed Pitching event is also making a welcome return, where forty (count them, four-zero) delegates have two minutes each with four agents. Elevator pitches at the ready!

There will also be our Newbie 101 session, led by agent Davinia Andrew-Lynch of Andlyn, who will talk us through the key things any aspiring illustrator or author needs to know before they take the publishing plunge. And not only that: the multi-talented Sara Grant has agreed to run a workshop for us, as has the equally prolific Piers Torday. What a combo. Our very own Natascha Biebow will talk about self-editing your picture book, and editor/author Beverly Birch will be with us, talking about how published authors can make sure they stay that way. And naturally we’ll have agents, editors and art directors on hand for those invaluable 1-2-1 slots.

These are just some of the things we have planned for you but there’s more to come. And we’ll keep you posted about the events planned for The Friday Fringe too; our informal introduction to the conference for both illustrators and writers, giving you a chance to ease into the weekend and meet old friends and new. Look out also for various twitter chats with some of our speakers in the coming months, as well as top tips to help you make the most of your conference.

We’ll give you advance notice of when bookings are due to open, and then shout until our lungs are fit to burst when we’re live, so you don’t miss a thing. As always, the organisation of something as big and juicy as the SCBWI conference takes a huge team of volunteers. But for now, let me introduce you to the key conference team for this year. The inimitable Tracy Liennard is leading the charge, fully tempered by her trial-by-fire last year.

Co-chair Tracy Liennard.

She’s joined by the little dynamo that is Sally Purdie, who’s also heading up the 1-2-1 section of the conference. I’m the third co-chair, and together with Soni Speight, our new and super-talented Illustration Co-ordinator, we’re the ones to come to if you have questions, queries or quibbles. We feel so lucky to be involved in such an exciting and vibrant event, and will do our very best to give you a weekend to remember!

Illustration co-ordinator Soni Speight.

Co-chair Sally Purdie.

Co-chair Georgina Lippiett.

*Header image: illustration by Mini Grey.


Georgina Lippiett joined SCBWI a few years ago after enrolling on the MA in Writing for Children at Winchester. SCBWI is such a wonderful, supportive community of like-minded souls, and she is amazed daily by how generous the members are with their time. She loves all things KidsLit but mainly writes fiction for 7 to 9 year olds. She also takes real pleasure from watching people develop their skills and confidence, so is thrilled to be able to be part of the conference this year.


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

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