This month, Network News Editor, Janey Robinson, highlights the North West Network

This month we're celebrating another SCBWI network with an insight in to the North West region and its community of creatives, with the help of Network Organisers Catherine and Susan. Find out about their popular critique sessions, BMX riding princesses and Cheshire's "Edge".

Name: North West

Counties: Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire.

We also welcome members from West Yorkshire who find transport to Manchester easier than to York and Newcastle.

Key Contacts: Catherine Whitmore and Susan Brownrigg. Email: 

You can also find the North West Network on Facebook and at their SCBWI North West Network Page.

North West Network Facts:

The North West group are friendly and welcoming, a mixture of published and pre-published writers and illustrators. Some have agent representation, some have been winners in nationwide competitions including Undiscovered Voices, Chicken House and the Northern Writers competition, some are just finding their voices. 

Event Highlights:
  • A monthly critique group! We are lucky enough to be supported by Waterstones (pictured in the header image by SCBWI NW member Anna Violet), who more often than not provide us with their Events Room. Usually there are around 15-20 members who split into Picture Book/Illustrators, Middle-Grade, Tween and YA groups for a morning of critique. Members value the trust and bonds that have been built over the years. In the afternoon, we usually have a 'member-led' session where a volunteer will share expertise, highlights from a course they have attended or a craft book that they have read. We've had talks on self-publishing, goal setting, book reviews and had free-writing sessions with chocolate prompts.
  • At our June session, we gathered for the Tulip Taylor (Firefly Press) book launch with author and NW member Anna Mainwaring. There was reading, cupcakes, Q&As, selfies galore and general love for the launch of a novel that Anna brought and developed in our critiques sessions.
    Gladstones Library. Photo Credit: C Whitmore
  • Gladstones Library retreat - this is an informal retreat that we try to organise once a year. It's a great one to organise as it pretty much takes care of itself. We pick a date and all members who want to attend ring up this beautiful library and arrange their own rooms within the space. We don't need to worry about numbers or budgets, just how much sponge cake we might consume! It is a beautiful place to write and enhanced by the possibility of having coffee breaks with our writing besties. 
  • Over the last eighteen months we have hosted craft workshops with writers and lecturers in partnership with Manchester Children's Book Festival and Manchester Writing School. We have panel events and workshops planned for later this year and next spring.  

North West Member News: 

We welcome new members all the time, initially via our Facebook group or email, but many come along and get hooked by our critique groups.

Celebrating Successes! Photo credit: C Whitmore
Celebrating Successes
  • Book Launch: Anna Mainwaring, Tulip Taylor (Firefly Press)
  • Book Launch: Marie Basting, Princess BMX (Chicken House)
  • Book Launch: Louisa Reid, Gloves Off (Guppy Books)

Competition Successes 
  • Cathy Johnson won the Debut Northern Writers Award at New Writing North in Newcastle
  • Louisa Reid, Anna Mainwaring and Marie Basting offering Write Mentor workshops. 
  • Timewave by Andrew McFarlane was longlisted for The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition.

  • Anna Mainwaring appeared at YALC 2019 in July, speaking on a panel and hosting a workshop. 

Highlighting a North West member: Marie Basting

When Marie Basting was fifteen, she was told by a careers advisor that girls like her don’t become writers. For a long time, she believed this. But then something magical happened and Marie finally came to realise that girls like her can do anything they want. Marie lives in Manchester with her husband, son and a giant, hairy woo-dog called Polly. When she’s not writing or annoying her family, you’ll find her supporting other girls and boys to follow their writing dreams.  Princess BMX is her debut novel, published August 2019 by Chicken House Books, a funny debut for ages 7+ with extreme adventurous fun!

A notable literary location: Alderley Edge

© National Trust
Alan Garner OBE is an English novelist best known for his children's fantasy novels and his retellings of traditional British folk tales. Much of his work is rooted in the landscape, history and folklore of his native county of Cheshire, being set in the region and making use of the native Cheshire dialect. Garner grew up near Alderley Edge, 15 miles south of Manchester. It is at the base of a steep and thickly wooded sandstone escarpment overlooking the Cheshire Plain. 

Garner spent much of his youth in the wooded area known locally as "The Edge", where he gained an early interest in the folklore of the region. His first children's fantasy novel, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen: A Tale of Alderley (1960)and subsequent books in the series - The Moon of Gomrath (1963) and Boneland (2012) - are all set on "The Edge". Source: Wikipedia.

The header image is by Anna VioletAnna is a freelance illustrator based in Manchester. She illustrates decorative maps, townscapes, library award booklets, museum line drawings, young reader’s books and quirky logos. Instagram: @violet2519 / Twitter: annadviolet

Janey Robinson is the Network News Editor for Words & Pictures. A SCBWI member since 2015, Janey mainly writes picture books with YA fantasy a more recent passion. She lives in North London but escapes to wide open spaces whenever possible, particularly places where you can see the Milky Way on a clear night. Twitter: @sjlrobinson

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