Cozy up like the characters of illustrator Emma Graham and read all about our latest Network feature. This month, Network News Editor, Anne Boyere, highlights the Central East Network.

From salt marshes to the Chafford Gorges, Constable Country, punting on the River Cam, the Chiltern Hills and the Black and White village trail, there’s plenty to inspire the SCBWI creatives of Central East. In our latest feature, Network Organiser, Debbie Edwards gives us a sense of the region and the work of its busy members.

Name: Central East 

Counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex

Key Contacts: Debbie Edwards is the Network Organiser for Central East. Debbie can be reached through and Central East has a Facebook group

Central East Members:

Debbie wanted to say,
A massive thank you to all Central East members for their continuing support.
With special thanks to Alice Turner for organising the Philippa Pearce Lecture member dinner, Alina Surnaite for organising the Cambridge Scrawl Crawls, Anna Cole for organising The SCBWI Book Club, Anita Lehmann for organising the Local Author/Illustrator events at Cambridge Library, and Emma Graham for organising the Ipswich Scrawl Crawl.

And, “To all critique group leaders - Thank you!”

2019 Event Highlights

In May, Central East members attended a very exciting and unusual Scrawl Crawl at Talliston House in Essex. This amazing house provided opportunities for both writers and illustrators as they trailed through the spectacular rooms, each designed with a different story in mind. Read about it on Megan Michelle's blog.
Janet Bingham reading at the Local SCBWI Authors & Illustrators Event at Cambridge Library (photo credit: Katie Dale)

Raffle table at the Local SCBWI Authors & Illustrators Event at Cambridge Library (photo credit: Giulietta Spudich)
Richard Mayers reading at the Local SCBWI Authors & Illustrators Event at Cambridge Library (photo credit: Janet Bingham)

We held our second SCBWI local Author event at Cambridge Central Library in September. It was a free event and was well supported. Authors took turns to read the picture books to children, plus there were craft/activity tables dotted all around the library. We also had a Q & A with MG and YA authors. A raffle of SCBWI books raised funds for the library. It was a really successful event and one that we hope to repeat again next year.

Also in September, James Nicol held a fabulous world building workshop for our members in Ely Library. We were kept busy throughout the day with so many activities including writing a postcard from our protagonist and listening to sounds to help visualise our worlds.

Central East Book Club goes from strength to strength thanks to Cambridge member Anna Cole. In October we read The Owl Service by Alan Garner. Anna led the discussion at our physical venue plus on our dedicated Central East Book Club Facebook page where questions were posted throughout the evening.

Central East Christmas Social (photo credit: Janet Bingham)
December saw our annual social at Baroosh Bar in Cambridge - a time to catch up and celebrate our successes for the year. Members came along with a new or well-loved book for our Secret Santa and played pass-the-parcel with a snowball.

Central East Member News

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

New Publications and Representation

  • Helen Moss: Helen had two books in the Time Dogs series published by Macmillan.
  • Giulietta Spudich: Giulietta published The Ice Giants and Element Girls: The Lost Goddess (Handersen Publishing).
  • Richard Mayers, Helen Moss and Camilla Chester: Richard, Helen and Camilla were featured in BBC Radio Lincolnshire's series The Storyteller.
  • Jenny Landor: Jenny has found representation with agent Liz Dennis from Johnson and Alcock (Jenny told us a common love for Tom's Midnight Garden brought them close!).
  • Alice Hemming: Alice has published The Midnight Unicorn, and  Rose Gold and Friends and Yasmeen's Winter Fun (Rose Gold series) with Scholastic. 
  • Katie Dale: Katie has been very busy with Early Readers this year! Four books for Franklin Watts, two for Reading Planet, and eight for Maverick!
  • John Tarrow: The Stranger's Guide To Talliston was published this July.
  • Camilla Chester: Camilla is now represented by agent Laura West from David Higham Associates.

  • New Commissions, Debuts, Awards

  • Tabbie Hunt: Tabbie became the Project Manager for the Milton Keynes Literary Festival.
  • John Shelley: John has illustrated, A Purse Full Of Tales, collected stories from Korea. John has also been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award again for the third year running! 
  • Catherine Emmett: Catherine’s first picture book, King of the Swamp, illustrated by Ben Mantle will be published by Simon and Schuster in August 2020. 
  • Alina Surnaite: Alina’s debut picture book I Love You, Bunny was longlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2019.
  • Kate Rosevear and Marjorie Mallon: Kate and Marjorie attended their first SCBWI Conference!
  • Debbie Edwards: Debbie became Patron of Reading for Queen’s Hill Primary School in Norwich.
  • Annaliese Avery: Annaliese has been longlisted for Undiscovered Voices 2020, congratulations!

A notable literary location: Norwich

Dark Materials writer, Phillip Pullman, was born in Norwich!

Highlighting a Central East member:

Debbie asked Words & Pictures if she could highlight two members and we were very happy to oblige!

Camilla Chester

Camilla has been a member since April 2015, a volunteer since November 2017 and is now the Front of House Coordinator.

Camilla has been involved in many wonderful things: school visits, Patron of Reading, Catching Words, Serial Mash, BBC Storyteller Project, KX Criteratti, exhibitions, library talks, writing group workshops, Words Away. Her fourth novel, Darna’s Sky was a finalist in the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition 2019 and she has recently signed for representation with Laura West at David Higham Associates. She is working on a fifth book entitled Lion and has two books out on submission to publishers at the moment.

Her other job is walking dogs and, in a parallel universe, she is an Animal Psychologist.

You can find out more about Camilla and her books here, on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Anita Lehmann

Anita is a Cambridge member and has had three picture books out this year. One of them was chosen by Pro Helvetia (Swiss equivalent of British Council) to be promoted abroad, so she was shipped to Paris to give a presentation. She has also written twelve short fairytales for adults which have been picked up by Harper Collins. Anita organised the SCBWI Author/Illustrator Event at Cambridge Library for our local members. It attracted over 100 visitors this September. You can find out more about Anita here.


The header artwork is by artist Emma Graham. Emma was a finalist in the SCBWI BI conference's The Hook 2016, also a finalist in the Stratford Literary Festival picture book competition. Her first illustrated book, Symphony Hollow, written by Jessica Reino, was published by Spork. Her next book, Everybody Counts, will be published this year by The Little Fig. You can see Emma's work here, find her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram

Anne is a writer and a breastfeeding counsellor. She is fluent in English and French but, please, don't ask her to do maths in English or her brain will fry. You can ask her about her four children, husband and cat and she will happily tell you all about them until you beg for mercy. She won the 2018 Winchester's Writers' Festival prize in Funny Fiction for her story about a grandmother were-cow and was shortlisted in the Writers & Artists' Writing for Children and YA competition.
In her spare time, she murders violin pieces or dreams about being invited to Desert Island Discs (spoiler: her book of choice would be Eloise).
Twitter: @AmusedNonQueen

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