I’m Camilla Chester, a children’s author. I’ve been writing for children for many years, self-publishing three novels for 8-12s and then publishing my latest book, Call Me Lion, with Firefly Press last year. I’m also one of the writers for Serial Mash (an online school resource). I’m represented by Veronique Baxter at David Higham Associates, and I was a volunteer for many years with the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), helping organize many events.
So naturally when Writers & Artists approached me about curating a festival dedicated to children’s writers and illustrators, I jumped at the chance to use the knowledge, skills and connections I’ve built over the years to put together a stunning line-up of speakers. I hope you agree that we’re in for an absolutely fantastic weekend full of guidance and inspiration from some of the brightest lights in children’s publishing, and that you’re able to join us!
And for those of you that don’t know, here’s a little bit more about the festival.
What is it?
Taking place across the weekend of 25th-26th March, we’ve put together a packed programme of live masterclasses, pre-recorded videos and a live agent panel. All events are geared towards anyone who’s writing and/or illustration for children’s books, and appropriate for those just starting out and those submitting to agents in equal measure.
Who’s on the line-up?
We have an all-star cast! The live masterclasses feature the current Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho, and the hugely successful series writers Annaliese Avery (The Nightsilver Promise, Scholastic) and Louie Stowell (Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good, Walker). Our pre-recorded videos offer advice from Lucie Arnoux (Je Ne Sais Pas, Jonathan Cape), Tọlá Okogwu (Onyeka & The Academy of the Sun, Simon & Schuster), Kate Pankhurst (Fantastically Great Women, Bloomsbury), Katya Balen (October, October, Bloomsbury), Candy Gourlay (Bone Talk, David Fickling Books) and Editor of the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Alysoun Owen.
The topics are all craft and/or industry based, with each one carefully chosen to ensure the festival showcases the full spectrum of children’s publishing and to bring out the best when it comes to the skills, expertise and knowledge of our speakers. Session topics include organizing your creative time, finding the heart of your story, plot vs character, illustrating across genres, researching your story, writing children’s non-fiction, and much more!
Why are there different prices?
In order to make the festival accessible and as affordable as possible there are three different packages. The best value for money is the full weekend pass. For £80 you have access to everything: all six videos, all three live author events, our agent panel, and two entries into the festival raffle.
If you prefer to spend a little less then our Masterclass + package is available at £65. You choose to attend one of our three live masterclasses, but also have access to all pre-recorded videos and the agent panel. If you simply want to attend a live masterclass then you can purchase an individual place (with the option of attending our agent panel included in the price of £45)
It’s also worth noting that Writers & Artists have made it standard that payment instalment plans are made available for all of their events, courses and editing services. Find this information on the festival booking pages and use the contact email address to arrange a plan that helps make the payments more affordable!
What is the agent panel?
Two children’s fiction and illustration literary agents, Davinia Andrew-Lynch and Penny Holroyde, will offer advice on the submission process and critique live pitches. Every festival attendee will have the opportunity to pitch their work. However even if your pitch is not selected this will still be a hugely valuable experience to see professionals analysing what makes a good story premise.
What are the raffle prizes?
All festival goers will automatically be entered into our raffle with a first prize of an Opening Chapters critique (RRP £240/380), second prize is a place at any future W&A masterclass, plus a Bloomsbury book bundle (including the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2023), and third prize is a copy of the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2023.
What if I’m not able to attend that weekend?
It’s obviously better for the live events that you attend in real time but the entire festival is being recorded and will be available for all ticket holders for a month after the weekend. It is definitely still worth purchasing a ticket even if you’re busy that weekend. I often watch recordings back several times and find I take away something new each time. This really is an opportunity not to be missed.
Is it worth it?
Of course! I’m really confident that you will find enormous benefit from taking part in the weekend. It is so important to invest in your career as a writer and/or illustrator. That goes for whatever stage you are at, whether you are just beginning to put a pencil to the paper, or you have published countless books. We all need to nurture and support our creativity.
How do I find out more?
Full details of the entire festival line up and speaker bios are available on the W&A website. Click on the weekend pass page, where the full festival options are listed, and you can choose the package that is right for you.
It’s been a fantastic experience so far to put this festival together and I’m working with an incredible team. I’m really invested in making sure that this is affordable and useful to as many people as possible. It’s going to be magic.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the end of March!