SCBWI FACES Ashley Taylor

Let's go behind the scenes at SCBWI-BI to meet the volunteers who keep our Society ticking. This month, volunteer Camilla Chester chats to Ashley Taylor, ARA Events.

Hi Ashley, welcome to Words & Pictures. Do you write full-time or do you have another job?

Right now I’m in my second year of an MA in Children’s Literature and Creative Writing at Goldsmith’s University. This term, one of my teachers will be author and SCBWI volunteer extraordinaire – Sara Grant. I absolutely love the course. I’ve learned so much and am so thankful I decided to return to study. I also work…well, at least I did in pre-pandemic times as an actress and voice over artist. Another job I have is once a week working with actors in a youth theatre. I choreograph dance pieces for their musicals; help them with any filming they want to try. It’s fun (mostly) and keeps me around the audience I’d like to write for.

Ashley working with a group of youth theatre students on a 
production of Guys and Dolls. (Picture credit Michael Thomas)

Would you say your job influences your writing? If so, in what way?

Yes, I think that all creative endeavours fuel each other. For example, when I have been feeling stuck with a piece I’m writing, it helps to move over to another discipline, maybe work on a piece of choreography for the youth theatre and in time, I can find my way out of being stuck. I feel really lucky that because of my work, I have to always be in a creative headspace. I’d worry about my sanity if I had to work in an office. But then, the pandemic hit, and man do I wish I worked in an office right now!

How long have you been volunteering for SCBWI and how did you get into it?

I started volunteering for SCBWI in 2015 after I saw an email call out for a new Agents’ Party Coordinator. I’d been to the conference in Winchester a couple of years before and noticed how all the volunteers seemed to be friends and having such a great time together. I think I just wanted children’s book writer mates! The email asking for an Agents’ Party organiser sounded fun, so I volunteered. It has brought many more rewards than I could have imagined. I was with the AP for two years, and then Natascha asked me to fill the opening for the Assistant Regional Advisor: Events, which has been my role since then.

Volunteers Lou Minns, Ashley Taylor and Marie Basting show their Outstanding
Contribution Awards at the SCBWI-BI Con 2019. (Picture credit: Marie Basting)

What are the main aspects of your SCBWI volunteer role?

The main aspect of my role is to oversee the calendar of events for the year to make sure that we are offering our members a balanced selection of opportunities without any clashes. I am also the chief support to all events teams such as the Masterclass team, Industry Insiders, Pulse, the Writer’s Retreat, Picture Book Retreat, and the Agents’ Party. This past year has changed my role quite significantly and transformed me into the keeper of the keys to the zoom account! Somehow I became a zoom guru that everyone is relying on for running his or her online events. I’d have laughed if you’d told me a year ago that I’d be any kind of technical help to anybody, but here we are!

Has volunteering helped your writing career in any way? How?

I am a pre-published writer, but volunteering has helped me along the way immensely. SCBWI HQ runs a work-in-progress grant competition open only to volunteers. I applied not long after I started the ARA Events role and won! It was a very proud moment for me. You have to hold on to these little glimmers of hope on the long road of rejection! Also, volunteering often puts you in the right place at the right time around publishing industry professionals.

How much of a commitment is volunteering for you?

I usually spend a few hours a week working on SCBWI matters, although some weeks are busier than others. My teams are fun and I am always happy to see them on zoom to go over organisation details. It doesn’t feel too much like work when you’re having fun!

Would you recommend volunteering with SCBWI? Why?

I certainly recommend volunteering with SCBWI! By volunteering you are helping others and yourself towards the goal of making literature for children. What nobler goal is there?


Ashley Taylor was born in the American south but has lived almost all her adult life in Great Britain. She lives in a picturesque seaside village on the white cliffs of the Kent coast with her actor husband of immense talent, two beautiful teenage daughters and cat, Hoagy, who no matter how much he's groomed always looks homeless. She is an actress, voice artist and aspiring writer of YA novels.


Camilla Chester is a dog-walking children’s author extraordinaire. You can find out more about her and her books by visiting her website: Insta: CamCauthor Twitter: @stanleydogblog


The header image is by Irene Silvino. Irene Silvino is an illustrator based in London and founder of Editartz. She loves to illustrate people (especially focusing on their feelings and emotions), nature and animals! Find her at


If you have a SCBWI event that would be of interest to SCBWI-BI members, please contact Fran Price at

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