This month, Network News Editor, Janey Robinson, highlights the Wales Network

Wales: home of dragons, movie quality landscapes and an ever growing active community of SCBWI creatives. In our latest feature, Network Organiser, Zoë Thomas gives us a sense of the region and the work of its busy members.

Name: Wales

Counties: The whole country - top to bottom, side to side and all the places in between!

Key Contacts: Zoë Thomas and Claire Fayers are the Network Organisers for Wales. They can be reached through and they keep their SCBWI Wales Network page up to date.

Wales Members: We’re mostly a network of writers however the SCBWI ‘Force’ is strong in our illustrators, and they’re gaining numbers all the time! Here are some quick facts from the SCBWI Wales community:
  • What’s your creative pick-me-up? A walk outdoors. 
  • What time of day do you write / illustrate best? Morning
  • Are you a planner or a panster (write by the seat of your pants)?  Pansters win!

2019 Event Highlights

In May, we had a fantastic writer’s workshop led by David Thorpe, which allowed attendees to share the stories they were working on, as we went through David’s '10 Steps to a First Draft' guidelines. There was plenty of discussion and idea sharing, with some very focused outcomes by the end.

This month we have already had the pleasure of enjoying two inspiring workshops. Our first was an illustration workshop led by the wonderful Eric Heyman, also the creator of our header artwork accompanying this feature. Eric showed us the techniques he uses and talked about how illustrating picture books differs from other artwork. He illustrated his first picture book with Peter Bentley this year and talked us through the experience. Our illustrator community also had the chance to share their work.

Our second workshop was led by picture book writer, Helen Docherty. Helen is an internationally published picture book author, including the award winning ‘The Snatchabook’, which has been translated into twenty four languages. Her interactive workshop covered what publishers are looking for, developing characters, writing in rhyme and also the opportunity for 1:1 feedback from Helen on our picture book texts.

Wales Member News

The Wales group is ever growing and evolving and we’re welcoming new members all the time. As we’re spread across the country, much of our interaction is online, however we also have groups who meet up in their local area including Abergavenny, Carmarthen, Cardiff, Swansea and North Wales.

We hope to continue growing in these areas, as well as reaching out into others. Members have informally taken on the role of coordinating their local groups, which is fantastic and support like this is always appreciated so don’t be shy in coming forward with ideas and/or sharing contacts!

Here are some of the successes we are celebrating in SCBWI Wales this year:

New Publications and Representation

  • Ann Brady: 'Dear Friends;' Letters from Abroad (Self Published), I also launched a new website and YA fantasy Charm of the Chosen One by a fifteen year old (
  • Claire Fayers: Storm Hound and Mirror Magic (US), (Macmillan).
  • Eric Heyman: "I’m now represented by Eunice McMullen. I illustrated Peter Bently's book Princesses Don't Parp! (Simon and Schuster), and Ruth Quayle’s The Battle of the Blighty Bling (Andersen Press), which has been nominated for the Lancashire Fantastic Book Awards."
  • Jonny Duddle: The Jolley-Rogers and the Pirate Piper (Templar). The animated series of Gigantosaurus (based on Jonny’s book) launched on Disney Junior and Sky Atlantic.
  • Laura Sheldon: Bananabeeyumio (Gomer Press).
  • Ruth Morgan: Ant Clancy, Games Detective (Firefly Press) and The Comet and the Thief (Gomer Press).

New Commissions and Firsts

  • Arry Cain: Arry launched, is working on writing and illustrating a book about two tearaway rabbits, and building some stories about a family of dragons.
  • Bonnie Helen Hawkins: Bonnie has been commissioned to illustrate a picture book for the US market, which will be published in 2020. This came through sharing her artwork on her SCBWI illustrator's page. Bonnie is also currently illustrating a book for Joanne Harris (Orion).
  • Chloe Heuch:  Chloe’s first YA novel, Too Dark To See, is coming out next year (Firefly Press). Chloe's busy working on her second novel.
  • Hazel Hitchins: Hazel has finished her first MG novel, The Construction Fairy. It's currently being read by Years 3 and 4 in her local primary school and receiving excellent feedback!
  • Jo Thomas: Jo was one of the 26 writers awarded a Literature Wales Bursary in 2019 to work on her middle grade novel. 
  • Mick Button: Mick’s has just started Golden Egg Academy's Picture Book course. In fact a number of SCBWI Wales members have joined GEA this year!
  • Sarah Phelps: Sarah was asked to write three Christmas stories, exclusively for the Rhondda Heritage Park Mining Museum to accompany their Santa tours. Sarah has also just submitted her first YA fiction story to a publisher.

New SCBWIs and Refocusing

We’ve had an influx of new members this year, long may it continue! Many of us have committed to our writing and/or illustrating this year, with Kael Tudor leading the way by writing every day. Zoë Thomas and Nuria Otte are also refocusing on their dream to write picture books. Former member and friend of SCBWI Eloise Williams has just become the Children’s Laureate for Wales.

A notable literary location: Llandudno

Photo credit:
In South Wales, we can claim Roald Dahl (Llandaff, near Cardiff) and Dylan Thomas (Swansea) and if you keep moving westwards, you’ve very likely to meet a film crew on Pembrokeshire’s gorgeous beaches and coastline including Harry Potter (Deathly Hallows), Robin Hood and Snow White and the Huntsman.

However, we’re going to travel to North Wales where you can take the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ trail through Llandudno.

It is said that Lewis Carroll met an Alice who inspired the story, way back in 1861. You can follow the rabbit feet across the town and tick off characters along the way.

Photo credit:

Highlighting a Wales member: Ruth Morgan

Photo credit: Chris Glynn
Hello!  My name is Ruth Morgan and I have been writing for children for 20 years, along with my other job of primary school teacher, to which I have been dedicated for 30 years.  I have written for all ages, from picture books, reading scheme books and early chapter books to books of poetry, plays and YA novels – around 25 titles and many more contributions to anthologies.  I have also been a writer on some very successful animation series (Bobinogs and Tellytales – BBC Cymru Wales) and radio series. These days, I tend to write more speculative fiction than anything else: the kind of stories I enjoy reading myself: ghost stories, strange tales and sci-fi. This year I have had two wildly different stories published within a couple of months of each other: Ant Clancy Games Detective is my middle grade story with a video gaming theme which was published by Firefly Press in July.  In September, my middle grade/YA novel The Comet and the Thief was published by Gomer Press and could not be more different in tone, for the thief of the title, Kit, not only travels around eighteenth-century England in the company of several memorable characters, including becoming apprenticed to an Italian puppeteer, he also travels back in time to the fifteenth century.  What’s similar about both these stories however, is the twists and turns and speculative nature of the plot. I’ll do everything I can to entertain my readers. There have been books I have fallen in love with as a reader and the idea of creating that same kind of feeling for somebody else, is a delicious one. It’s what really keeps me going in my writing career. 

The header artwork is by Cardiff based illustrator Eric Heyman. Once a professional firefighter, Eric took early retirement to concentrate on illustration, working with the Welsh book council and various publishers and art studios, learning all the time. Eric now runs workshops and also has a range of greeting cards through Emma Ball Ltd. Recent picture book collaborations include illustrating Battle of the Blighty Bling, written by Ruth Quayle (Andersen Press) and Princesses Don’t Parp written by Peter Bently (Simon & Schuster). Eric is represented by Eunice McMullen.

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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