This week, Anita Loughrey interviews Natascha Biebow, who joined SCBWI in July 1998

The early days of SCBWI-BI
When I first joined SCBWI, I was impressed by the welcoming, supportive and friendly feel of the organisation. I also loved how there is no snobbishness – even famous authors like Paula Danziger and Bruce Coville were happy to hang out with then pre-published people like me. After all, everyone struggles when starting with the blank page of a new project.

First SCBWI_BI retreat in 2006
Now I am the Regional Advisor (Chair) of the British Isles region, a position I now share with Kathy Evans as Co-Chair. I have been volunteering for 20-plus years. My role is to develop and plan the British Isles’ programming, lead us into the future and support and manage our 70-plus volunteers.

Conference larks
SCBWI has helped me enormously! I have met some amazing people, some of whom have become critique partners, friends and mentors, who have in turn have supported me on my writing journey. I have learned valuable new skills, including how to hone my craft, build a website, blog and all sorts of marketing skills. I have networked and made new industry contacts, including my now agent, and travelled too.

In 2018, I applied for and was awarded an SCBWI marketing grant to promote my book The Crayon Man: the True Story of the Inventor of Crayola Crayons. So now I can go afford to go on a mini book tour to meet schoolchildren and booksellers and together create a buzz about creativity and crayons!
Celebrating 20 years of SCBWI-BI in 2016

The best thing about being an SCBWI member is that you are part of a friendly, professional community that has got your back no matter where you are on your creative journey. (Oh and I should have kept a better photo diary of all the famous and yet to be famous people I’ve met in my 20-plus years! LOL)

I would like to thank the amazing community of SCBWI members around the world who have supported me in my role as RA and author, and especially the generous people who nominated me for an MBE in recognition of services to children’s writers and illustrators, which I will receive this year. Being a volunteer is the gift that gives back. It’s hard work, but it’s changed my life. I would heartily encourage you to consider it – SCBWI is the kind of organization where you can make life-changing stuff happen.

The Crayon Man: the True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons
Illustrated by Steven Salerno
Published March 2019


The header image shows Natascha back in 2010 at the launch of the first-ever Undiscovered Voices.
All photos credited to Natascha Biebow

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

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