The SCBWI PULSE Team, Candy Gourlay and Mo O'Hara have put together an amazing line up of industry professionals to inform, inspire and challenge conference attendees. With discussions covering everything from inclusivity and diversity to indie publishing, we are spoilt for choice this year!

Hi everyone. It’s been a while.

We may not have seen you in person for a bit, but for the last couple of years, the SCBWI PULSE Team have not been idle.

We’ve been busy dreaming up our ‘What if’ wish list of our ideal conference speakers.

Authors, illustrators and industry professionals that would inform, challenge and inspire.

So, when we got the ok that the SCBWI conference was happening in Manchester, we had this amazing list of people, but surely they couldn’t all want to come. Could they?

Well, look who’s coming! 

On the Saturday morning, Candy Gourlay is hosting a ‘Power, Politics and Censorship in YA Fiction’ panel with award-winning Young Adult authors Alex WheatleDanielle Jawando and Louisa Reid.‬‬‬‬ How do authors navigate themes of gender, decolonising books, refugees, #metoo and #blacklivesmatter that have led to controversy? It seemed like a great way to kick off a conference with the theme, ‘Finding Your Voice.’ ‬‬‬‬‬

Then, SCBWI’s own success story A.M. Dassu is doing an informative and inspirational session with her agent Julia Churchill and her publicist Liz Scott on ‘How to Successfully Launch Your Book’. Come ready to take notes and jump into the discussion. Ask all those burning questions and get answers straight from the experts' mouth.

Image: (L-R) A.M. Dassu, Liz Scott and Julia Churchill

But it doesn’t stop there…

On Sunday morning we have two PULSE Keynotes this year (to make up for lost time 😊)  

Darren Chetty and Karen Sands-O’Connor discuss their fascinating and insightful series of articles ‘Beyond the Secret Garden’ – an astonishing four-year exploration into the representation of BAME authors and characters in children’s books. In conversation with Candy Gourlay, they discuss the history but also what lies ahead.

Image: (L-R) Karen Sands O’Connor and Darren Chetty

"I’m not going to lie," says Candy Gourlay, "in the drive for inclusivity and diversity in children’s publishing, there has been a lot of anxiety amongst authors, especially in the midst of nasty culture wars. Personally, I’ve found Darren and Karen’s columns – and individually their other writings, such as Karen’s insightful blog, The Race to Read, and Darren’s always enlightening Twitter feed – a steadying hand, reminding us of how much we have achieved and what has still to be done. I am confident our SCBWI colleagues will find much to inspire and challenge them in this keynote."

We also have two practical PULSE workshops on the Sunday for you.

Rebecca Colby and Juliet Clare Bell talk about ‘Creating Additional Income Streams for Published Children’s Authors.’ It’s both an informative and practical workshop that will assist you in exploring your USP and passions in order to put forward applications and projects that have the potential to earn you more money.

Image: (L-R) Lucy Reynolds and Jenna Herman

And as part of our PULSE and SPARK strands this year we have author/illustrator team, Lucy Reynolds and Jenna Herman, to show you 'How to Independently Publish – and sell – Your Children’s Book'. Find out how to take your creation from storyboard onto the shelves. Key steps covered include: physical book production, running a publishing company, branding and marketing, sales platforms, distribution and everything in between. The session will focus on practical tips for publishing your own work, with the aim of achieving sales that compete with traditionally published works.

It’s a fully packed and powerful weekend so why don’t you join us? Book your ticket here!

Looking forward to seeing lots of you there. 😊

Your PULSE Team - Mo and Candy

Header image: Tita Berredo
Feature images: Courtesy of PULSE Team


Candy Gourlay is an award-winning author based in London. She was born in the Philippines, grew up under a dictatorship and met her husband during a revolution. Growing up, she wondered why all the books she ever loved only featured pink-skinned children who lived in snow-covered worlds that didn’t resemble her steamy, tropical home in Manila. It took her years to fulfil her dream of becoming an author – and years to learn that Filipino stories too, belong in the pages of books. She has been a committed SCBWI volunteer for the British Isles chapter since she joined in 2002 and is a winner of the first iteration of Undiscovered Voices in 2009 – which led to her signing with Hilary Delamere, her agent. 

Mo O'Hara first joined the conference committee about 9 years ago and worked in a speaker co-ordinator role for a while. For the last several years she has been working with Candy Gourlay to develop the PULSE events aimed at our published members. When she is not doing SCBWI stuff, Mo writes funny fiction books for kids (like her My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series) or picture books (like More People to Love Me or Romeosaurus and Juliet Rex). Her last book with illustrator Jess Bradley, Agent Moose, is out now with Scholastic. She would love to hear about any ideas for PULSE events or suggestions you might have. | @mo_ohara


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

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