SCBWI FACES Alice Nuttall


SCBWI Faces goes behind the scenes to meet the volunteers who keep our society ticking. This month, Claire O'Brien chats to Alice Nuttall, who runs the SCBWI Oxford critique group.

Alice is a children’s and webcomic writer who spends her free time reading, knitting, and playing D&D, occasionally all at the same time. Her superpower is the ability to find a cup of coffee no matter where she is.

Alice Nuttall

What do you write?

I mostly write middle-grade fantasy - I'm currently working on a Norse mythology-inspired story about one of the lesser-known Norse goddesses, Sigyn. I also write webcomics, which I co-create with my best friend, artist Emily Brady.


Do you have a ‘day job’ as well as volunteering and writing?

I have two! I work in admin during the week, and I recently started a Saturday job at my local library. My weekday work is remote, so it's nice to spend the Saturday with other people - especially as they're readers.


Describe your writing space.

My writing space is a desk in the office that I share with my husband. I've decorated the walls around me with pictures and postcards that get me in the writing mood, and I also have some little mascots on my desk to keep me going, including a tiny model of Alice in Wonderland that I love.


How long have you been a SCBWI volunteer?

I think for a couple of years now! The pandemic has really confused my sense of time.


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

I organise our monthly crit group meetings, which we've been doing online since COVID hit, and I also chat with people who are interested in joining the group.


Do you do any other volunteering?

I'm part of the team for Our Streets Now, an intersectional feminist campaign fighting to stop public sexual harassment. My main role in the campaign is writing, editing and proofreading, so I've been able to put my author skills to good use.


Has volunteering influenced your writing in any way?

Volunteering with OSN has definitely helped me learn to write in a variety of different ways - writing non-fiction articles is a very different process to writing fiction. Regarding my SCBWI volunteering, it's been great getting to know more writers, and I love reading my crit group's writing and seeing how it develops.


What are the advantages of being a volunteer?

It breaks up the solitude that comes with writing. It's great to remember that, while writing can be a solo task, we're all part of a very big community.


How many hours per week do you spend volunteering?

With SCBWI volunteering, it varies depending on where in the month we are. I like to spend a good amount of time reading through my crit group's pieces and giving the best feedback I can.


Do the boundaries between volunteering get blurred or do you have clearly demarcated writing/volunteering times/space?

I'm very bad at setting work boundaries, or focusing in general, so my writing is already done as a here-and-there kind of process - but I've actually found that my SCBWI volunteering feeds back into my writing work, as I get excited about stories again.


Favourite children’s book?

There are too many to choose from! There have been some that had a huge impact on me, though - the ones that spring to mind are Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, and Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.


Charmed Life - Published by Harper Collins Childen's books

Noughts and Crosses - Published by Puffin 

*Photo courtesy of Alice Nuttall


Claire O'Brien lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and adopted lurcher, Whiskey. She writes funny stories and retellings of traditional tales for children, as well as non-fiction for adults.

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