SCBWI FACES Françoise Price

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


Françoise Price has been a SBCWI member for 11 years and a volunteer for five and a half. She is Welsh-French and has worked in contract publishing as well as recruitment, marketing, admin and education. She lives in the rolling hills of Somerset with one goat, two dogs and three humans.


What do you write?

I write picture books, short stories, poetry and middle-grade novels. I’ve also been known to illustrate.


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

Not at the moment – pre Covid I was working as a teaching assistant part-time – a job I fell into when I was a Beanstalk Reading Helper. A major health scare (I was diagnosed with bowel cancer), losing my job due to funding cutbacks, the pandemic and family bereavements all led me to reevaluate my life. I decided to put my energy into my writing, art and pottery. I feel very grateful that I am able to do that.


Describe your writing space.

I have an attic study but it’s very hot in summer and cold in winter, plus it’s a mess, so I tend not to use it. When something’s a mess I struggle to get round to actually tidying it up. I write all over the place – outside in summer, in my bedroom, in the car before a dog walk, in the cafe before a swim. Sometimes I write standing at a window-sill. I live by trees, lots of trees. No wonder some of my stories are about going into the deep, dark woods or living in the woods! And I sometimes ‘write’ while driving or walking, using voice notes – it helps me to work out tricky plot points. 

'I live by trees, lots of trees'

'Sometimes I write standing at the window'

How long have you been a SCBWI volunteer?

For five and a half years. Wow. Where does the time go?


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

I have been Deputy Editor of Words & Pictures for one and a half years, which involves writing and commissioning features, interviewing authors and illustrators, managing the schedule along with editor Gulfem Wormald, regular communication and meetings with our excellent team, recruiting other volunteers, doing call-outs for feature ideas, picture research, proofreading and copyediting. Before that I was Events Editor for four years, a very busy role as there are sooo many SCBWI events to report on. I started out in contract magazine publishing back in the day as an account handler/editor (I don’t want to say the early 90s because that would make me feel very old!), and I find working for the magazine is a good way to still exercise my journalistic muscles.


Do you do any other volunteering?

Once a month, I distribute the parish magazine to several deliverers in my Somerset village and deliver a section myself. Oh the glamour! I like it because I get to snoop around other people’s properties and occasionally chat to other villagers.


What are the advantages of being a volunteer?

It’s a great way to be in the industry, even though I’m a pre-published children’s writer (apart from a middle-grade story that I wrote and illustrated for Aquila magazine some time ago). I am able to contact the great and the good for features and interviews – for example, just this year I interviewed Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho for my series On Fairytales, and invited Times/Chicken House winner Jasbinder Bilan, as well as legendary illustrator Korky Paul, to write about their day for In the Shoes Of… At the top of my TBI (to be interviewed) wishlist are Neil Gaiman, Malorie Blackman and Alan Garner. I learn a great deal from properly reading the articles – I think I concentrate far more as an editor rather than skimming over them, which is probably what I would do as a reader. Writing can be quite lonely and there can be a lot of self-doubt, so being part of an online publication which is actually read by people worldwide, and being part of a team of other writers and illustrators, kind of helps to keep it ‘real’.


How many hours per week do you spend volunteering?

It really depends whether I’m ‘editor’ for the week which means checking all the posts after allocating them to subs, or if I have one or more write-ups to do. So from a minimum of 2 hours in an unusually quiet week to more than 10 hours.


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

Yes, they get blurred. I always make a list and try to do some creative work in the morning, my most creative time, but often end up doing Words & Pictures work first because it seems more pressing, it’s more like a ‘proper job’, probably something to do with deadlines and working right to the wire. Then there’s the art and pottery which takes up more of my time these days, so if it’s an art or pottery class morning, everything else goes out the window!


Favourite children’s book

I don’t have favourites, and I’m a slow reader because I get easily distracted, but the one I enjoyed most recently was Treacle Walker by Alan Garner. It was so surreal and lyrical – in fact I want to reread it once I get it back off my friend.

*Header image: in-house collaboration by Shannon Ell & Tita Berredo;
all other images by Françoise Price


Gulfem Wormald 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. 


Anne Boyere is one of Words & Pictures Feature Editors and runs the #SCBWIchat Twitter chat about books for all ages @SCBWI_BI. You can find her on Twitter.

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