SCBWI Faces goes behind the scenes to meet our volunteers. This month Chip Colquhoun chats to 
Jo Verrill, contributor and former KnowHow feature editor for Words & Pictures.

Jo is a keen writer of MG and YA books, as well as a broadcast and advertising regulation consultant. She has worked with the Words & Pictures editorial team since 2019.


What do you write?

I usually write comedy MG adventures, but this year I’m trying out YA. I love it already - teenagers can do way more fun things than younger children.


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

Yes, I run my own business giving advice to media companies and broadcasters on regulation. I was Head of Compliance at Global for seven years, which meant I occasionally (and very awkwardly) had to tell off radio presenters.


Describe your writing space

My office is quite small and cupboardy. I don’t mind too much as it has a lovely view and, if I squint, I can see the Thames. My desk is nicely decorated with books about writing (some I’ve never even opened, but pretty sure if I sit near them long enough the knowledge will leach into my brain).

"These make me look really cool I think."

Jo's office. "This is where the magic happens."

I like to move around when writing. Usually, I sprint until lunch in my office with the wonderful people of Write Magic, and then sit on the sofa in the afternoon (or, when hungover, in bed). I’m also a sucker for writing in a café, or on the train to the seaside.


How long have you been a SCBWI volunteer? 

Six years.

Describe the main tasks of your role as a SCBWI volunteer

In 2019 I joined the Words & Pictures team as a subeditor, proofreading and reformatting articles on Blogger before sending them to publication. I then took up the role of Knowhow editor in 2020, which meant writing and commissioning articles on things like writing craft and wellness.

I stepped down from Knowhow at the end of 2023, but I am still hoping to contribute to the fabulous Words & Pictures on a casual basis.


Do you do any other volunteering?

I have been a volunteer reader with Bookmark (a reading charity) and have also been a mentor for the Social Mobility Foundation.


Has volunteering influenced your writing in any way?

Yes, definitely. Reading and creating articles for Words & Pictures made me HUGELY more knowledgeable about the craft.


What are the advantages of being a volunteer?

It’s a brilliant way to get connected with a variety of people across the industry. For example, when I was commissioning articles for Knowhow, I would frequently reach out to agents, editors, and authors for content. All were very friendly and happy to help.


How many hours per week do you spend volunteering?

Knowhow and subediting used to take me about an hour each week. At the moment I’m not spending enough time on articles, but once I’ve got my beast of a YA project under control I will be contributing more fully again.


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

I tend to keep the two separate. I always do my own writing in the morning, because that’s the thing that requires the most brain power. Generally, I do volunteer work in the afternoons or evenings.


Favourite children’s book?

As a child, I would have said The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton, but now I’m older and extremely sophisticated my fave is Anne of Green Gables. I’m fairly sure I would have hated it as a youngster, though. Not enough elves and fairies and adventures!

* Header illustration by Tita Berredo and Ell Rose
* Other images courtesy of Jo Verrill


Since his first book, Cambridgeshire Folk Tales for Children, Chip Colquhoun has published twenty-two books, most as part of the Fables & Fairy Tales series he co-produces with illustrator Korky Paul. He's currently working with the National English Hub and the National Literacy Trust to raise the rate of recreational reading in schools. You can find him at


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


Ell Rose is a non-binary illustrator & animator based in Edinburgh and Illustration Features Editor for Words & Pictures. They have two cats that sometimes feature in their work in either comics or illustrations/animation. They are available for editorial, non-fiction and fiction books and commercial work as well as 2D motion graphics. Contact


Tita Berredo is Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Follow her on InstagramX and or contact her at:

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