SCBWI FACES Gulfem Wormald


SCBWI Faces goes behind the scenes to meet the volunteers who keep our Society ticking. This month, Elaine Cline chats to Gulfem Wormald, Editor of Words & Pictures.

Gulfem Wormald

Gulfem has over 20 years experience as a journalist. She worked as a full-time journalist for Cosmopolitan and ELLE magazines in Istanbul, Turkey and as Overseas Correspondent for FHM magazine in the UK alongside a career initially in banking and now, in education. 

What do you write?

I write picture books and early readers. I also write short stories and poetry for grown ups.


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

I do! I am an Internal Communications Manager for an exam board.


Describe your writing space.

What writing space?!? I write in bed on my laptop or during virtual work meetings. I have mastered the art of typing without my shoulders moving (virtual meetings gave birth to a new version of ventriloquism for sure) and looking interested in what others are saying when in actual fact, I am lost in a story that is unfolding right at my fingertips.


How long have you been a SCBWI volunteer?

For one and a half years.


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

I am the Editor of Words & Pictures. I, with the help of an amazing editorial team, make sure we have a new issue every Sunday at 6:30am for our readers.


Do you do any other volunteering? 

I am the Chair of the Union at my work place and I also volunteer at ice skating competitions and ice panto productions as I am a licenced chaperone. 

I don't know if it counts but I have recently taken up photography as a hobby. To practice and get myself out of my comfort zone I volunteered to take photos at a festival in our local Buddhist Temple recently.  They seemed to have really liked my work and asked me to do it again at other festivals which made my day. I am also in the volunteers list of a local community project which is about to start. Volunteers are working on turning this derelict(ish) building into a live music venue and I put my name down to take photos and do internal and external comms as well as helping out whenever they need someone. This is a rather selfish one because I really really miss the live music venues of  Istanbul, Turkey, where I grew up, so I am super excited about this project to come to life.   


Has volunteering influenced your writing in any way?

Totally. I get the inspiration for my villains from my Union work and the others from other work. 


What are the advantages of being a volunteer?

Where to begin. For me it is two-fold; self satisfaction comes first. Then upskilling myself, learning and adding to my experience every day. Volunteering is the best school!


How many hours per week do you spend volunteering?

A good few hours, it depends from week to week but from 2 hours to 10+ hours.


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

It does get blurred sometimes. It can be challenging to find the head space and time to actually write. I get so many ideas but don't always end up putting them on paper (or Google Docs) and definitely don't have time to query agents. I guess I am an old school Cinderella waiting to be found by an agent while I am too busy working hard. 


Favourite children’s book?

It has to be the Happy Family series by Allan Ahlberg. I absolutely love how Allan challenges the norms of the society. Who could dislike Mr Creep the Crook? He is a crook but a very loveable one. How about the story about the single mum, who is a vet, whose kids are trying to find her a boyfriend? And the boy and girl who loved climbing, got married and then had a divorce but still cared for each other. These concepts in a children's book are hard to pull off. To think they were written over 40 years ago is proof how ahead of the times some of the content was, and still is to a point.

*Header image: in-house collaboration by Shannon Ell & Tita Berredo


Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over eight years and loves to write picture books, middle grade and teen books. She lives by the sea and has one dog. Elaine is a member of the Words & Pictures editorial team, managing the Slush Pile Challenge.


Anne Boyere is a feature editor for Words & Pictures

1 comment:

  1. I love this - I know Gulfem but learned so much about her from reading this. She is a truly inspirational woman.


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