SCBWI FACES Tamsin Cooke

Let's go behind the scenes at SCBWI-BI to meet the volunteers who keep our Society ticking. This month, Emma Finlayson-Palmer chats to Tamsin Cooke, part of the Social Media team.

Hello Tamsin and welcome to Words & Pictures! Can you tell us what you write?

I write middle grade and YA. I’ve written two middle grade series: The Scarlet Files and Stunt Double. I love MG books because they’re filled with so much adventure and optimism. At the moment, I’m working on a YA paranormal novel and I’m really enjoying delving deeper and darker into my characters.

Do you have a job as well as volunteering?

I write full time. I also go on lots of school visits – well, I did before the pandemic. I used to be a primary school teacher and love inspiring children to read and write. I often turn up to schools dressed as a cat burglar.

Tamsin's writing space.

Describe your writing space.

I’m very lucky. I have my own writing room which I absolutely adore. I’ve got a shelf full of signed books, and my husband had the covers of my own books framed. I have two chairs on either side of my desk – one for lounging in when I’m on Zoom or watching Netflix, the other is a kneeling chair which helps with my posture when I’m writing. My room is often very messy, full of notepads, post-it notes and pens. Plus my dog has a bed in here and she leaves her toys scattered about.

How long have you been a volunteer?

A good few years now. Is it bad that I can’t remember?

Describe the main tasks of your role as a SCBWI volunteer.

I’m the Wednesday girl for the SCBWI Twitter account. I retweet anything I think our membership will find useful, interesting or funny. I’ve also helped front of house a couple of times at the SCBWI conference.

Why did you decide to become a SCBWI Volunteer?

The writing community is so friendly and generous with their advice. I wanted to give something back, even if it is in a small way.

Before I was published, I hadn’t heard of SCBWI and really wish that I had. I’d been a bit lost learning how to better my writing and dealing with rejections all on my own. My family and friends were great, but it’s not the same as talking to other writers who are going through the same things as you. I think SCBWI would have helped me, so I joined the Twitter team, not only hoping to help its members, but just in case there are writers or illustrators who could benefit from being part of our community.

What are the advantages of being a volunteer?

There’s a real sense of belonging and it’s such a supportive network. I’ve met so many other volunteers who I now class as good friends. Plus it feels good to give something back.

Has volunteering influenced your writing in any way?

It really has. Being on the Twitter team has enabled me to find out about book launches, festivals, and fantastic blog posts on editing, character arcs, etc. All this has helped me become a better writer.

How many hours per week do you spend volunteering?

I spend about an hour a week, unless I’m covering other tweeters’ days if they are ill or on holiday, and then it’s more. I do about four fifteen-minute sessions every Wednesday.

How does your family and day to day life influence your own writing?

I get inspiration from everywhere – dreams, dog walks, conversations I overhear – you name it!

My poor family have to deal with me bombarding them with questions at the dinner table. Such as: If you transformed into a jaguar and were stuck in a locked room, how would you get out? My daughter is sixteen and I keep asking her questions regarding how teenagers would behave in certain situations. She’s decided if my YA gets published, she wants her name on the cover too!

Are you a plotter or pantser?

I am definitely a plotter. I like to know the basic structure of my story before I write. I’ve tried being a pantser in the past, but my stories had no focus or direction.

Favourite children’s book as a child and why?

I think my favourite book would have to be The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I used to move around a lot as a child and that book gave me so much solace. When I was in a new place, about to start a new school, I’d read about Lucy and feel like I had a true friend who never left my side. I also really wanted to go to Narnia. I still do!

*All photos courtesy of Tamsin Cooke.


Tamsin Cooke is the award-winning author of The Scarlet Files and Stunt Double series. She writes fast paced adventure stories, full of excitement and danger, and her books have been recommended for reluctant readers. Tamsin used to be a primary school teacher but now writes full time. She loves visiting schools, sharing her passion for reading and writing. She likes to think her Nahualli (spirit animal) would be a lioness or a jaguar, but her friends tell her it’s a Labradoodle.


Emma Finlayson-Palmer lives in the West Midlands with her husband and a multitude of children, cats and chickens. A writer of children’s fiction, with a special love of chapter books, she is represented by Veronique Baxter of the David Higham Associates agency and her debut chapter book, Autumn Moonbeam: Dance Magic, will be released by UCLan in 2022. Emma runs #ukteenchat, a writing themed chat on Twitter, and has been a #WriteMentor mentor from its inaugural year and now edits, mentors and reads competition entries too. She’s also one half of Word Witches, as a children’s fiction editor. @FinlaysonPalmer


The header image is by Irene Silvino. Irene 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


No comments:

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.