This week, Anita Loughrey interviews Sara Grant who joined SCBWI in 1994.

In 1994 I attended my first workshop on writing children’s fiction, led by the incredible author Elaine Marie Alphin. I left inspired with a notebook full of ideas. She said that if I was serious about writing for children I should join SCBWI, which I did as soon as I could afford it. From then on, I have regularly attended events and volunteered for SCBWI on both sides of the Atlantic. I’d been secretly writing for a long time. It was amazing to step from the shadows and find people who loved what I loved!

The best thing ‘ever’ about being a SCBWI member is the significant and life-long friendships I’ve made over the years. At a SCBWI event around about 1995, I met three Indiana writers who would become my critique and support group until I moved to London in 2003. A regular critique group was key to establishing a habit of writing and an ability to take feedback. One of the first things I did when I moved to the UK was to connect to the local SCBWI and join a writers' group. The group members changed, and the monthly meetings dwindled to periodic one-to-ones, but those writers introduced me to the British SCBWI and were my first friends in the UK.

In the US I was regional advisor for the state of Indiana for three years. When I moved to the UK, I immediately started to volunteer for SCBWI. I planned the masterclasses with Margaret Carey for a number of years, hosting the first year at my flat. I developed the Network Plan and manual for the British Isles in 2004. Each year, Mo O’Hara, Candy Gourlay and I, host a bootcamp for debut authors and illustrators. My friend Sara O’Connor and I created Undiscovered Voices in 2006, which has helped launch the careers of more than 40 writers and illustrators. We will publish the seventh anthology in 2020. We will accept submissions between 1 June and 15 July 2019. To receive updates, sign up here.

The first UV writers, 2006
SCBWI helped me take my writing to the next level – both by attending so many SCBWI events and by learning from my fellow authors. I’ve met so many wonderful agents and editors along the way too. And Natascha Biebow handed a copy of the British SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices 2008 anthology to literary agent Jenny Savill at the Bologna Book Fair in 2008. Jenny read the extract from Dark Parties, which was included in the anthology, and gave me a call. I signed with her a few months later.

Sara Grant, David Almond, Sara O'Connor, Natascha Biebow at the first UV party, 2006
To celebrate SCBWI British Isles 20th anniversary, I blogged about the top 20 reasons I’m grateful for SCBWI. My advice to other SCBWI members is to volunteer for SCBWI! It’s a great opportunity to meet industry professionals as well as connect with your fellow writers and illustrators. I would not be published if I’d sat on the side lines. I’m thrilled to have books with my name on the spine, but I’m probably more proud when my name or Undiscovered Voices appears in the acknowledgement of a debut author’s book.

UV 2016 writers and illustrators
* Header photo shows Sara at an Indiana SCBWI advisory committee around 1997
* All photos credited to Sara Grant

Anita Loughrey is SCBWI's Membership Coordinator. Anita writes fiction for all ages, graphic novels, audio books, teacher resources, educational fiction, non-fiction and creative non-fiction on a wide variety of subjects for a wide range of publishers. She has over 85 books published in the UK and many more worldwide. She also writes two regular double-page spreads for the national writing magazine Writers’ Forum and teaches creative writing.

You can find out more about Anita Loughrey on her website and on her blog. Or follow her on Twitter @amloughrey and Instagram @anitaloughrey

No comments:

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.