SCBWI FACES Debbie Edwards

In a new series, we go behind the scenes at SCBWI-BI, meeting the volunteers who keep our Society ticking. This month, Fran Price chats to Debbie Edwards, Network Organiser for Central East region.

Welcome to Words & Pictures, Debbie, and thank you for volunteering to be our first volunteer interviewee!
Thanks for having me here!

I'll get straight to the point: what do you write? 

I write both MG and YA. I have three self-published MG books about stroppy teenage tooth fairies which I go into schools with – I am Patron of Reading for a school in Norwich. My YA fantasy is with GEA at the moment and is just weeks away from submission to agents and publishers.

Describe your writing space.

I am lucky enough to have three particular places where I write, depending on the noise, light and heat. I have a great study, but there is a huge bees' nest just outside and bees can be really noisy. I also have a summer house which is lovely and light, but can get really hot on a sunny day. Mostly I work at the huge kitchen table where I can spread my numerous books and pieces of paper around.

How long have you been a volunteer?

I have volunteered as Central East Network Organiser for almost three years. Before that, I helped out at the annual conference by registering attendees or just running bottles of water over to speakers.

Debbie's self-published MG trilogy.

Describe the main tasks of a SCBWI volunteer.
As a Network Organiser I have many tasks:

  • I organise events & socials for my network – plus the wider SCBWI body during lockdown – and produce budget proposals for events with enabled registration. 
  • I work with other Central East volunteers as they organise book clubs, scrawl crawls, quizzes, etc. 
  • I introduce members to each other with the hope of forming a critique group. 
  • Each month I check for new members to welcome and follow up member renewals. 
  • I produce a weekly newsletter with suggestions for the week and other upcoming events and information. 
  • I put daily motivational posts on Facebook.

Do you do any other volunteering?

I volunteer for the Golden Egg Academy, running writing camps and Sunday BrEGGfast chats. I am also part of the GEA social team where I help to organise events.

As a NHS Responder, I have been taking Check in and Chat calls from vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s got a lot busier of late as other volunteers return to work.

What have you learnt from volunteering?

Moving everything online this year has been a steep learning curve. I have conquered Zoom and picking that up quickly has enabled me to put on many events for SCBWI members plus being able to check in periodically with Central East and my critique group.

I have learnt to work closely with other volunteers – Central East wouldn’t work so well without the help of other team members: Alina Surnaite runs the Scrawl Crawls, Anna Cole runs the Book Club, Vicki Spreadbury runs the Book Quizzes, Alice Turner organises the annual Philippa Pearce Lecture meal.

I remember going to an agent’s party in London and being so nervous about talking to the agents there that I barely spoke to anyone. Now, through volunteering, my confidence has increased so much when engaging with industry professionals, many of whom I now know by first name.

I do manage my time better because of volunteering, but I need to be stricter and keep to mornings only.

Debbie's awesome dragon hat she made for the GEA Summer Social.
(Picture credit: Debbie Edwards)

What are the advantages of being a volunteer?

There are so many advantages – where to start?!

  • Volunteering opens doors that might otherwise be closed. 
  • As a Network Organiser, you become a proud mother hen, watching your regional members achieve success. 
  • Your friendship circle increases hugely. 
  • You can mould and regenerate your own network. 
  • You see the ‘other side’ of SCBWI and appreciate other volunteers so much more when you realise how much they do. 
  • You get to know industry experts and they seek you out. 
  • As you arrange events, well-known authors like James Nicol, Lorraine Gregory, Vashti Hardy, Andy Shepherd become your friends. 
  • Your face becomes known through the writing community. 
  • You get invited to take part in festivals. 
  • You get to be on first name terms with Barry Cunningham!! Squeee! 
  • You get a reduced rate for membership and the conference. 
  • You can win awards! I have just won a Summer Service Award from SCBWI. 

How many hours per week do you spend volunteering?

At the moment I spend about two hours a day on voluntary work although that can increase if I have an NHS call. But the hours you put in really depends on what else you have to do. I am a full-time writer so I am more flexible, but I appreciate others may not have that luxury. Most mornings are taken up with planning the week ahead, planning events, answering emails and checking in with other members.

As you arrange events, well-known authors like James Nicol, Lorraine Gregory, Vashti Hardy, Andy Shepherd become your friends

Do the boundaries between volunteering get blurred or do you have clearly demarcated writing/volunteering times/space?
Sometimes the lines do get blurred, but mostly I try to keep volunteering to between 10am and 12pm. I have a timetable – like a school one – plus my bullet journal to keep me on track. I keep the timetable on the fridge with the afternoons marked out for writing. When things go awry or I have a Zoom meeting, I just swap the morning and afternoon over.

I noticed you were runner-up in the Golden Egg Summer Social (great hat by the way!). What’s the story behind that hat?

The hat is based on a Common Green dragon (called Gordon) from my YA fantasy, The Iron City. It is set in present times in a parallel world where society has broken down, governments are in hiding and entertainment comes from dragon arenas. Here’s the pitch:

"When excessive dragon cloning by her scientist father threatens mankind, Rae Gandos is revealed as the chosen Dragon Slayer by best friend George, a 700 year-old knight. Together they must stop the Iron City’s boss, Haines and her father producing mechanical dragons (Mechas), thwarting Haines’ plan to hold the world to ransom and at the same time, appeasing the leader of the wild dragons, the Red Firebrand. But with her mum and younger sister kidnapped by Haines, Rae questions her slayer destiny, unable to grasp the ‘bigger picture’. She must fully accept her slayer role before Haines forces her mum and sister to fight in the dragon arena and she, herself, is sacrificed to the dragons."

*Header image by Katey Bishop.


Debbie Edwards is a children's author living in Norfolk. Home is a wooden shack at the bottom of a disused chalk quarry. Her current book, The Iron City, is about to go on submission with the Golden Egg Academy. Debbie likes to design thematic bedrooms in her ‘spare’ time. She has been a SCBWI volunteer for five years, three of those as Central East Network Organiser. 


Fran Price is an editor for Words & Pictures, the online magazine for SCBWI-BI. Contact her at

1 comment:

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.