Children's Writers & Illustrators Festival 2023: MASTERCLASS+

25th March 2023 10:00am to 26th March 2023 5:00pm, Online

Are you writing and/or illustrating for children? Join us for our Children’s Writers & Illustrators Festival 2023: an online, craft-based festival for Children’s writers & illustrators at all stages of their careers.

We're proud to present this full-weekend line-up of authors, illustrators, agents and industry professionals, who will talk tips, offer advice, share experiences and pass on knowledge. We'll discuss the current children's publishing marketplace, host invaluable sessions on the creative process with leading authors and illustrators, and provide essential advice on pitching your work when it comes to seeking literary agent representation.

All attendees will automatically be entered into our festival raffle, while everyone will have the opportunity to send in a pitch of their work-in-progress ahead our agent panel.

Your Masterclass+ Ticket: What's Included

The Masterclass+ ticket entitles you to attend one of our live masterclass sessions, our live agent panel, six pre-recorded videos, and you will automatically receive a single entry into our festival raffle.

Ticketing Information

Weekend Pass £80: Full access to all festival content: 3 live masterclasses, 6 pre-recorded videos, and live agent panel. Two raffle entries.
Masterclass+ £65: 1 live masterclass, 6 pre-recorded videos, and live agent panel. One raffle entry.
Single Pass £45: 1 live masterclass and live agent panel. One raffle entry

If I Book a Masterclass+ Ticket, How Do I Select My Masterclass?

We'll drop you a line in the week leading up to the festival and ask you to select which live masterclass you'd like to attend, then send you the joining instructions accordingly.

Take a look through the festival line-up below and click on the links against the individual masterclasses for a full breakdown of what Joseph, Louie and Annaliese will cover in each of their sessions. 

Full Festival Line-Up:

For more details of our live masterclass sessions, please click on the links below. Speaker bios and further information about our raffle and live agent panel can also be found by scrolling down this page.

Saturday 25 March 2023

10:00-10:15: Welcome!
10:15-10:45: Video 1: Researching Your Story with Candy Gourlay
Want to create a story outside of your own experiences? Need to research but don’t know how to start? Unsure if what you’re creating is your story to tell? Listen to the fabulously talented Candy Gourlay in conversation with Camilla Chester about how she created her stunning children’s book, Bone Talk, which details the American invasion of the Philippines. Gain tips and advice on how to research in order to write with sensitivity, empathy and compassion.
10:45-11:00: Break
11:00-12:30: LIVE MASTERCLASS: Using Poetry Within Your Craft with Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho (click here for more details)
Frightened of poetry? Think it’s boring or not for you? This live online workshop with the current Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho, will blow your mind! Find out how to incorporate poetry into your craft and watch how it brings your writing and/or illustrations to life. Joseph will talk you through some simple poetry exercises and give you lots of take-away tips in this exclusive live masterclass and Q&A
12:30-13:30: Lunch break
13:30-14:00: Video 2: Illustrating Across Genres: Craft Tips with Lucie Arnoux
Want tips on how to expand your illustration techniques? Thinking about ways to develop and strengthen your career as an Children’s Illustrator? Listen to the talented and resourceful Lucie Arnoux as she tells you how she came to be the illustrator for the hugely successful Enola Holmes series and shares tips and advice about her craft.
14:00-14:15: Break
14:15-15:45: LIVE MASTERCLASS: Drawing and Writing Together as a Technique For All with Louie Stowell (click here for more details)
Do you say: 'But I can’t draw?' Or are you more: 'But I can’t write?' Perhaps it’s both! Don’t worry, because best selling author and illustrator, Louie Stowell, is here to help! Join the creator of the phenomenally successful Loki series for this exclusive live masterclass and Q&A
15:45-16:00: Break
16:00-16:30: Video 3: Finding the Heart of Your Story with Katya Balen
Publishers and agents say they are always on the lookout for stories with ‘heart’ but what does that really mean and how can you ensure your story fits the bill? Join Carnegie winning author, Katya Balen in conversation with Camilla Chester as she discusses her stunning book, October October and offers tips and advice for you to find the heart of your own story.
16.30-16:45: Close for the day video

Sunday 26 March 2023

10:00-10:15: Welcome back!
10:15-10:45: Video 4: The Children's Publishing Landscape with Alysoun Owen
Why is it so hard to make a career from writing and/or illustrating for children? What is the insider knowledge? How do you stand out from the crowd? Watch this honest and open discussion with Alysoun Owen, Editor of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook and the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, who has twenty-five years experience of working in the publishing industry.
10:45-11:00: Break
11:00-12:30: LIVE MASTERCLASS: Goal Setting & Organising Your Creative Time with Annaliese Avery (click here for more details)
Are you the Master of Procrastination? Does time for your craft come at the bottom of your list? If you’re feeling despondent or lack lustre and self-belief then this masterclass with Annaliese Avery, the hugely successful author of The Celestial Mechanism Cycle, is for you. Annaliese will give you practical ways to balance your life/work ratio and fire you up with self-belief, energy and determination in this exclusive live masterclass and Q&A.
12:30-13:30: Lunch break
13:30-14:00: Video 5: Tips and Thoughts for Writing Children's Non-Fiction with Kate Pankhurst
Creating non-fiction books is becoming more popular with many authors and illustrators switching between the genres, but how do you make sure you’re doing it right? Can you pick any topic and carry out your own research, or do you have to be an expert in the field already? Listen to the hugely successful non-fiction author Kate Pankhurst as she explains how she went about creating her Fantastically Great Women titles, and how that differed to her new book We Are All Astronauts, due out August 2023.
14:00-14:15: Break
14:15-14:45: Video 6: Plot or Character Driven Stories - What Works Best? with Tọlá Okogwu
Everyone can agree that the best books are those with both strong characters and engaging plots, but what about when it comes to driving the story? Is it really a conscious decision we make as story creators? Who better to answer than the amazing Tọlá Okogwu, whose novel Onyeke and the Academy of the Sun has gone global! (With Will Smith working alongside David Oyelowo to produce a Netflix film of the book, Tọlá has definitely got it right!) Find out how she approached the plot vs character issue in this video made exclusively for our festival.
14:45-15:00: Break
15:00-16:30: LIVE PANEL DISCUSSION: Join literary agents Davinia Andrew-Lynch and Penny Holroyde to learn how to pitch your work
Two specialist children’s agents, Davinia Andrew-Lynch (Andlyn Literary Agency) and Penny Holroyde (Holroyde Cartey Literary Agency) will be critiquing your pitches live, as well as offering general guidance and advice on the submission process for both authors and/or illustrators. The session ends with a live Q&A.
16:30-16:45: Break
16:45-17:00: Raffle draw and closing remarks


Pitch Your Book to Literary Agents: Live Panel Discussion

Your weekend pass includes a free place at our agent panel discussion, which starts at 15.00 on Sunday 26th March, 2023.

Ahead of this session, you will be invited to submit your own novel pitch. A select number of pitches will then be chosen by our agents, and critiqued during the session itself! Look out for an email from W&A in days leading up to the festival, which will contain all the information you need about how to submit your pitch.

Festival Raffle

Every festival attendee is automatically entered into our festival raffle, while weekend pass holders receive two raffle entries. The raffle will be drawn at the end of the festival, with the following prizes up for grabs:

3rd prize: Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2023 and Bloomsbury Children's book bundle

2nd prize: complimentary place at any W&A evening masterclass (RRP £30) + Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2023 and Bloomsbury Children's book bundle

1st prize: gratis Opening Chapters editing service (RRP £240/£380)

Festival Bookshop

Our festival bookshop partner is the Children's Bookshop in Muswell Hill. They are selling a range of books written by our festival speakers and can be purchased with a 15% discount over on their festival bookshop page.

Speaker profiles
Candy Gourlay

Candy Gourlay was born in the Philippines, grew up under a dictatorship and met her British husband during a revolution. Her middle grade novel, Tall Story, won the Crystal Kite Prize for Europe and the National Book Award of the Philippines. In it, she lightly explores the impact of the migration phenomenon that has pushed many Filipino mothers to leave their families. Shine, a ghost story for teens, was nominated for the Guardian Prize. Her picture book, Is It a Mermaid, lushly illustrated by Francesca Chessa, plays with the story that European sailors encountering bulbous sea cows in the shallows of Southeast Asian islands mistook them for mermaids. It was nominated for a Kate Greenaway Medal. Bone Talk, set in the moment when headhunting tribes in the Philippines came face to face with the American invasion of 1899, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Prize and is endorsed by Amnesty International. The much anticipated sequel Wild Song – out in March 2023 – transports its characters to the 1904 World Fair in St Louis, Missouri.

Joseph Coelho

Joseph Coelho is a multi-award winning children’s author and playwright. He writes across several mediums for children including stage plays, picture books, non-fiction and middle grade. His latest ‘Story told in poems’ The Girl Who Became A Tree was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and received a special mention from the Bologna Ragazzi Award 2021. His latest stage play Jack Frost And The Search For Winter recently finished a UK wide tour with Tutti Frutti Productions. He wrote and presented ‘Teach Poetry’ - a 10-part BBC online series that aims to make the writing of poetry fun and accessible to all and is the Waterstones Children's Laureate 2022 - 2024.

Lucie Arnoux

Lucie is an illustrator from the South of France. She recently published her autobiographical graphic novel Je Ne Sais Quoi with Jonathan Cape, and is the author of the Enola Holmes comics. She has traveled the world with her sketchbook but is happiest at home in London, where she's lived for the last 10 years. She has worked on theatre and film sets, painted murals and pub windows, illustrated books in the UK and abroad, and she hopes her creative juggling never stops.

Louie Stowell

Louie Stowell started her career writing carefully-researched books about space, ancient Egypt, politics and science but eventually let the facts slide and started making stuff up. She started writing very funny books in 2019 when  her debut The Dragon in the Library was published, followed by The Monster in the Lake in 2020, The Wizard in the Wood and her stand alone middle grade magical fantasy adventure Otherland in 2021. Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good was her first project as both author and illustrator and was a number one bestseller and the sequel, Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Taking the Blame was published in August 2022.

Katya Balen

Katya Balen studied English at university. She is now a writer and is co-director of Mainspring Arts. Her debut novel, The Space We’re In, was highly commended for the Branford Boase Award 2020. Her second book, October, October, published to critical acclaim in the same year and is the winner of the Yoto Carnegie Medal 2022. Her third book, The Light in Everything, was published in 2022. When she’s not writing books or planning projects, she likes to scroll through dog-rescue websites, bake and attempt to keep all her house plants alive. She lives in London with her partner and their dogs Raffi and Mouse.

Alysoun Owen

Alysoun Owen is the Editor of the annual bestselling Writers' & Artists' Yearbook and the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, which provide advice and contacts for authors across all forms and genres on how to write and get published. She runs a publishing consultancy, is the author of the Writers' & Artists' Guide to Getting Published and is a regular speaker at literary and publishing-related events.

Annaliese Avery

Annaliese Avery is the author of the widely popular middle-grade series The Celestial Mechanism Cycle, which debuted in 2020 with The Nightsilver Promise, and her highly anticipated YA debut, The Immortal Games, will release in May 2023. Former library manager, children's book editor, and creative writing tutor, Annaliese has been hailed as the queen of goalsetting and organisation for writers and will be bringing lots of skills, tips and tricks on how to beat procrastination and how to conquer your creative goals to the W&As Children's Writers and Illustrators Festival 2023!

Kate Pankhurst

Kate Pankhurst is the bestselling author and illustrator of the trailblazing and internationally successful Fantastically Great Women books. Kate's books have been translated into 22 languages and been shortlisted for many awards, including the NIBBIES award for Children's Illustrated & Non-fiction. Most recently, her first book Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World has been adapted into an inspiring stage show, touring the UK in 2021 and 2022. Most days, Kate can be found illustrating and writing in her studio in Leeds with her spotty dog, Olive. She loves a good story, the funnier the better, and gets her best ideas by doodling in her sketchbook; because even quick, wonky drawings can spark ideas for amazing plots.

Tọlá Okogwu

Tọlá Okogwu is a British-Nigerian children’s author, journalist, and hair care educator. Tọlá believes it’s important for children to read books that are reflective of their own experiences, as well as other cultures and she seeks to create these opportunities through her books and wider writing. Her self-published picture book series, DADDY DO MY HAIR is a firm family favourite. The books were inspired by the relationship between her husband and daughters and are designed to celebrate the special bond between father and child, whilst also showcasing the beauty of Afro textured hair. 

Tọlá’s debut middle grade series with Simon & Schuster is set in a futuristic Nigeria, powered by solar energy. The first book, ONYEKA AND THE ACADEMY OF THE SUN was published in June 2022 with a second instalment due in March 2023. The book is currently being developed into a feature film by Netflix, with David Oyelowo and Will Smith producing. 

Tọlá also writes as part of the dynamic duo, Lola Morayo with four books in the AZIZA’S SECRET FAIRY DOOR series already published by Macmillan Children’s Books. Tọlá lives in Kent, England with her husband and two daughters.

Penny Holroyde

Penny Holroyde has worked in children's publishing for her whole career, which is quite a long one now! She’s worked in-house in foreign rights for publishers Walker Books in London and Candlewick press in the USA where she was the Rights Director. Her first job as an agent was with Caroline Sheldon where she worked for a decade before setting up Holroyde Cartey in 2015 with Claire Cartey, formerly Art Director at Hachette. Holroyde Cartey represents a quality roster of bestselling award-winning authors and illustrators and represents everything from baby to YA – authors author/illustrators and illustrators.

Davinia Andrew-Lynch

Davinia Andrew-Lynch is the founder agent of ANDLYN. Representing mainly Children’s and YA fiction across the ages and genres, she also has a select list of adult clients. She’s always keen to find stories that ‘smack her between the eyes and captures her heart’ – whether they be madcap adventures, swooning romances, or bone chilling tales, Davinia just wants to be entertained!

Booking & payment

Your Masterclass+ ticket gives you access to a single live masterclass, all pre-recorded videos, our panel with literary agents, and a single festival raffle entry.

This festival will take place online in full, and will be presented using video conferencing software. Joining instructions, links, and full guidance will be circulated for the above in the week leading up to the festival.

Any event materials associated to individual masterclasses will be made available to attendees at the author's discretion, and all recordings will be made available for a time-limited period.

The Masterclass+ ticket is priced at £65 (incl. VAT), and payable in full online.

Please note that payment instalment plans are available for all W&A events, writing courses and editing services. Contact W&A Admin on so that we can find a payment schedule that works for you.

To view our event refund and cancellation policy, please click here.

Accessible to All

It’s of real importance to Writers & Artists that our events and courses remain accessible to all.

  • Writers & Artists has made up to three full weekend passes available for our festival as part of our accessibility scheme. Please visit our bursaries page for further information about how to apply. All bursary applications must have been submitted for consideration by 5th March 2023
  • At the author’s discretion, event materials will be made available to attendees after the masterclass.
  • A link to a recording of the masterclass will be circulated after the event. This will be made available to event attendees only, and for a time-limited period.
  • Each event will include written text and visuals. Please contact us in advance so that we can make arrangements to be sure all documents appear in a format that works for you.
  • If you’d like to attend but have any questions or concerns regarding accessibility, then please email



You might also be interested in

Crafting Plot and Structure
1st July 2024 7:00pm to 8:30pm, Online
Join award-winning author Sam Sedgman for a perfectly-paced masterclass in plotting and structuring stories of all kinds.
Book now