SCBWI BI CONFERENCE 2022 Author Keynote Alex Wheatle

 Be inspired by keynote speaker Alex Wheatle, and workshops to suit every writing power. Tania Tay reports.

We’re so thrilled to be welcoming Alex Wheatle as our keynote speaker for the 2022 conference in Manchester. Alex is a senior lecturer in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and his fresh, unique and authentic voice is a joy. His characters in Cane Warriors and the Crongton Knights and Liccle Bit series definitely find their power.

Alex Wheatle

Alex’s incredible life is a testament to how stories are essential to survival, as you can read in his recent profile in The Guardian. He tells us how he felt alone and rejected all his life. He grew up in care, in the notorious Shirley Oaks Children’s home in Croydon, and his childhood was one of abuse and trauma. 

In 1981, Alex was involved in the Brixton Riots and sent down to Wormwood Scrubs Prison for assaulting a police officer. Close to suicide, this was one of his lowest points. But it was in prison that he met Simeon, his Rastafarian cellmate, who listened to his story and became his stand-in father and mentor, which helped Alex on his way to becoming an award-winning writer.

Once Alex Wheatle has inspired and enlightened us, he’ll be joined by revolutionary YA authors, Danielle Jawando of All the Stars Are Burning and Louisa Reid of Gloves Off fame, in our panel discussion, Power, Politics and Censorship in YA Fiction. They will be discussing controversy in children’s publishing, chaired by our very own Candy Gourlay – this is sure to flag up some incendiary topics going on at the moment, so don’t miss it!

Of course, inspiring talks aside, I have always loved the SCBWI conference for the writing craft workshops. Writers are completely spoiled for choice this year. 

In Don’t Lose the Plot! Lil Chase, author and editor extraordinaire will help you sort out your plotting from your pants-ing… Whether you have a brand new idea or need to shake up your current WIP, Lil will help you take your plot through its paces.

Our very own Marie Basting of BMX Princess fame puts the super into the hero’s journey with her workshop What Captain America Taught Me About Voice; which will help you find your own special writing power. Agents and editors are always looking for a stand out voice, and Marie’s wonderful workshop will help you find yours.

Of course, all plot starts with character and on Sunday — what a treat! You’ll jiggle and roar in Steve and Connie Hartley’s legendary all-day Acting Up workshop for writers. Learn how to inhabit your characters, and step out in their shoes. I once drove to Manchester and back to London in a day just to go to this workshop and it’s well worth the price of the ticket alone.

But if thrillers and adventure is more your thing, Sue Wallman (latest book, Such A Good Liar) and Tracy Darnton (Ready Or Not) will give you all the tips and techniques to keep your readers hooked to your story in their workshop, The Suspense Is Killing Me. 

And, if you think poetry is a mysterious art but you love reading novels in verse as they’re a) Beautiful and b) Quick to read, why not try Louisa Reid’s Writing A Novel in Verse workshop? It’s this decade’s hot trend.

Picture book writers will be inspired by Caryl Hart in her two workshops From Idea to Manuscript and Picture books to Change the World. Flesh out your current picture book ideas or be inspired to create new ones.

Decisions, decisions… Which workshop to book? It’s so hard to decide... And there’s so much more, including agent/editor 1 to 1s, agent and publishing panels, a pitching event, PULSE workshops and panels, illustrator talks, Scrawl Crawl, the Saturday night Party and Mass Book Launch, and much, much more. So, if you haven’t booked your ticket yet, don’t leave it too late! 

Roll on November... for once, I’m glad that winter is coming.

*Header image: designed by Tita Berredo; illustrations by Jim Field. 
Other images courtesy of Alex Wheatle.


Tania Tay is a long-time volunteer for SCBWI, having helped with the Writers’ Retreat, Words and Pictures and the London Network. She is the speaker coordinator for this year’s conference. In her writing, Tania explores themes of female friendship and difficult mothers, often with a supernatural twist. She’s an advertising copywriter, ghostwriter and dabbles in screenwriting. Last year, she was shortlisted for BBC Drama Room. Tania graduated from the University of Edinburgh. Contact her via email:


Stephanie Cotela is the new Network News & Events Editor for Words & Pictures magazine.

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.