EVENTS Young Fiction Weekend

SCBWI's Young Fiction Weekend, coming to a screen near you on Sat 26th and Sun 27th Feb, is the culmination of a whole year of brainstorming, networking, planning, lots of hard work…and one chance comment on Twitter back in March last year. Co-organiser Mo O'Hara reports

After last year's very successful PULSE online event which was centred on Middle Grade Fiction (OMG Weekend) SCBWI member and best-selling Young Fiction author Paula Harrison tweeted about the need for more events where agents, editors, authors and illustrators could discuss the state of the industry, within the different age categories — particularly in Young Fiction. 

Paula Harrison says: 'I just felt that Young Fiction is sometimes a slightly overlooked area of children's publishing and yet it's so crucial for children's reading. This is the age when children become independent readers and these are the books they read by themselves for the very first time! So, we need to think hard about what we write and illustrate for children aged 5 to 8 and why, because they need books that encourage them to become lifelong readers.' 

Candy Gourlay and I got in touch with Paula and we all started brainstorming about making an event for Young Fiction writers and illustrators that does just that. SCBWI writers Alison Gardiner and Matt Killeen enthusiastically joined the group as well with Natelle Quek and Anita Loughrey who were able to contribute specialist skills in graphics and webpages respectively.

In the last several months we have put together a dream team of Young Fiction illustrators and writers for the event. Harriet Muncaster, Tracey Corderoy, Joe Coelho, Freya Hartas and our very own Paula Harrison are all sharing their experience and inspiration. 

But the original idea was to get lots of industry professionals in as well. And that’s just what we did. 

Agents and editors are available for a Pitch Panel which gives members an opportunity to get their work in front of professionals who are looking out for new young fiction. (To participate, your work must be sent by 11th February. Details on how to submit your work are on the booking page for the event on the SCBWI website.) 

There’s also an Ask Me Anything panel featuring fantastic agents and editors and a talk which explores the nitty gritty of money and marketing in this area with Kate Wilson from Nosy Crow. 

As an added bonus, we decided to commission even more content for this weekend. So now there will be short videos on in-house produced young fiction, non-fiction and poetry for this age group, as well as writing for the educational market and self-publishing for kids this age.

The weekend is jam-packed with inspiration, practical advice and opportunity. (SCBWI is also offering some free places for this event for those from underrepresented groups. Please contact us through the pulse email to apply.) 

None of this would have happened if one member hadn’t commented on what they specifically wanted to see SCBWI do and to then step forward together with other members in order to make it happen.

If you have a fantastic idea for an event or an initiative that SCBWI-BI can run then please get in touch. Who knows, you might just read about your dream event in next year’s Words & Pictures

You can book the Young Fiction Weekend — before the 18th February! — here.


Mo O'Hara is the New York Times bestselling author of My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish, various picture books and her new graphic novel series with Jess Bradley – Agent Moose. She grew up in Pennsylvania and now lives in London with her husband, two kids and two cats, where she works as a writer and storyteller visiting schools all across the UK, USA, Europe and around the world. Mo and her brother once brought their own pet goldfish back from the brink of death (true fact).

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