I was recently asked by the SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators) to come on board and assist with their website content – content management if you like. For those of you who know me, this kind of thing comes naturally and I was delighted to be involved. I am pleased to announce that in a wonderful partnership with Elaine Ridge, Marjorie van Heerden and Samantha van Riet, the South African SCBWI blog is now beginning to take shape. In return for my assistance, I was to be a member of their team.
Now I should say, that I have been stalking this group of people for over a year now. In fact, I was there, hanging out, chatting to them, going to events, well before I was even a published illustrator! I had gone to a book launch to meet an international illustration, Jane Heinrichs, who you might have remembered I interviewed that one time.
I had ‘met’ Jane via social media and found out that she was launching a book she was illustrating, with a Cape Town writer (Jane normally lives in the UK), so I went through. It was a little bit of a disaster, as the publisher seemed to have forgotten about it and the venue also were very confused, but in the end the author and Jane still managed to sign a few books, although mostly because of people they had personally invited. It all felt a bit like a flash-mob book launch!
In the process, Jane and another Jane-fan told me about SCBWI. I had mentioned that I was in the process of pitching for my first book, Katya Cat. They told me that the SCBWI had events that could be useful for someone like me, so I dutifully stalked them on Google as soon as I got home.
I finished Katya Cat, then came 3 Baaspeuder, Stars, Penguin’s Palace, and so forth, until we come to today, where I am working on a gorgeous books for Renee Kruger on a boy who wishes to go to the moon (rather than go to his first day of school) and Julia Richman’s (the author of Katya Cat) second book, which is based around a boy called Sam and collective nouns.
The SCBWI has been an amazing support team during this whole journey, as some of them have agreed to be interviewed (including Sam and Paddy), and their workshop/events have been really useful (including being critiqued by the national’s treasure, Marjorie van Heerden – that was something else!).
If you are an illustrator (both inspiring and practicing) then I would recommend you find out if your country also has a SCBWI. As an international organization, they seem to have groups in all four corners of the world. The delight of being a member is having access to a number of really useful resources (which I have downloaded but yet to find time to go though), as well as being able to create a profile on their website, including portfolio.
The best thing is they are not only for illustrators – but writers too!
See you at the next SCBWI workshop/event!