Conference Faculty 2023

Robin Stevens, Author

Robin is the author of the Murder Most Unladylike series and the Ministry of Unladylike Activity. She was born in California and grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived, and she has been making up stories all her life. When she was twelve, her father handed her a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and she realised that she wanted to be Agatha Christie when she grew up. She spent her teenage years at Cheltenham Ladies' College, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she'd get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn't). She went to university, where she studied crime fiction, and then she worked at a children's publisher. Robin is now a full-time author, and her books are both award-winning and bestselling. She lives in Oxford.

Ed Vere, Illustrator

Ed Vere is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling writer & illustrator of picture books. He is a patron at CLPE and is the artist in residence at the Born Free Foundation. His picture book How to be a Lion won the Oscar's Book Prize,'s best books as well as being an NPR great choice and EB White Read Aloud Honor Book. His latest book, The Artist, is a joyful celebration of creative confidence within young artists everywhere and has already been chosen as one of Amazon's Best Children's Books of 2023. Here he talks about his life and work as an illustrator, a fascinating insight into his creative life and work.

Hilary Delamere, Agent

Hilary joined Lemon Unna & Durbridge in the early 90s to look after the Paddington Bear titles and to build her own book list. She worked for several different publishing houses including Rights Director at Penguin Children’s Books before becoming an agent. As a partner at The Agency, Hilary continued to represent Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear alongside a wide range of children’s book authors and illustrators from pre-school books to YA novels - handling their publishing deals alongside their film, TV and stage rights. Hilary has this year retired from The Agency and is working as a consultant for the Raymond Briggs Estate.

Becky Bagnall, Agent

Becky Bagnell is the founder of the Lindsay Literary Agency and has been in publishing for over 25 years. She worked as a commissioning editor at Macmillan before becoming a literary agent in 2008. Becky represents clients in all genres of children’s publishing, from picture books and non-fiction to middle grade and YA, and they have been published in multiple languages across the world. Her clients include the multi-award winning authors, Pamela Butchart, Sue Wallman, Sam Gayton, Larry Hayes, Louise Finch and Kate Peridot.

Kate Peridot, Author

Kate Peridot writes illustrated fiction and non-fiction. After many years trying to find a publisher, she took part in a Twitter pitch party and her non-fiction pitch caught the eye of agent, Becky Bagnell. Kate signed with Becky in 2020, and she has since sold ten titles, and three have been released in 2023 - Caring Conservationists who are Changing the Planet (Walker), My Animal Family (DK) and Meet the Bears (Welbeck). She blends creative fiction techniques with facts to capture children’s imaginations about the natural world, real people, or STEM. @kateperidot

Larry Hayes, Author

Larry Hayes wants to know all the answers to everything. So when he’s not writing children’s books he works out of a secret laboratory in a remote part of France. He is currently discovering how to make straight hair curly, curly hair straight and the secret to growing taller. He has recently learned how to Karate chop through a brick wall, predict the future with dreams and make a goat happy just by staring at it. Larry’s debut “How to Survive” fiction series is published by Simon & Schuster and his “Kid Boss” non-fiction series is published by Walker Books.

Penny Joelson, Author, Writing Tutor

Penny Joelson is the award-winning YA author of ‘I Have No Secrets’, with ten published books and two coming out next year, including YA thrillers, MG mysteries, an early reader and high interest low reading age teen books for educational publishers. Having started out as a student at City Lit, she has taught there for twenty years and now teaches City Lit ‘Writing for Children’ courses on Zoom. Penny began working with people with disabilities when she was a teenager, which gave her the inspiration and insight for 'I Have No Secrets'. She has ME/CFS which was the inspiration for 'Girl in the Window’.

Anna Oreinstein-Cardona, Author, Wealth Coach

Anna Orenstein-Cardona is a certified financial educator (CFEI), wealth coach, and children's author. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Anna graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and spent over two decades working in finance in the USA and Europe before turning to writing for children. Her debut picture book, The Tree of Hope, was published in 2022 by Beaming Books and was awarded a STAR by the School Library Journal. It was also recognized as one of the “Best Children’s Book of the Year – 2023 edition” by Bank Street College of Education. Anna is an alumna of Faber Academy and a a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), as well as Las Musas. You can learn more about Anna and her work on Instagram (@wearyourmoneycrown) and Twitter (@BoricuaAnna).

Ness Wood, Designer, Art Director

Ness Wood is an award-winning book designer and art director and she has worked for many major children’s publishers designing picture books and fiction. She has taught publishing at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), on the Illustration MA course at Goldsmiths, run the Cambridge School of Art Summer School (2014-2020) and taught Design History at the University of Brighton. Ness is a Leader in Residence at UCLAN. Ness is known for her encouraging, straightforward and collaborative approach with illustrators and students.Ness has also been a judge for the Bologna Ragazzi Award. In 2018, she was part of the winning team at the British Design and Production Awards, in the Graphic Novel Category. Ness is co-founder of Orange Beak Studio who offer insight and encouragement for illustrators through individual tutorials, talks and varied workshops.

Tiffany Leeson, Creative Director, Farshore

Tiffany has worked as a designer in the Children’s Book industry for over 30 years. She’s always looking for commercial, surprising and original illustrations styles and clever concepts. She currently works at Farshore (part of HarperCollins UK) as Creative Director, managing a team of 20 designers. Tiffany is a Trustee of ‘Picture Hook’s and helped develop ‘Harpercollins Design Academy’, which is in its second year. Tiffany looks after the design out-put for all the Farshore lists from Picture books to YA, from Minecraft to Michael Morpurgo, from Winnie-the-Pooh to Holly Jackson and the new non-fiction series, Little Experts. Tiffany would love to see your illustration portfolios.

Emma Layfield, Editor, Hachette

Emma Layfield is Picture Book Development Director for Hachette Children’s Group and is focused on working with writers and illustrators based in the North, Scotland and Ireland. She is based at Hachette UK’s new Manchester office. She is also co-founder of Children’s Books North, an independent network set up to promote and support published children’s authors, illustrators and publishing professionals living in the north. @emma.layfield

Matt Killeen, Author

Matt Killeen has had many careers but kept coming back to writing. He has made a living as a copywriter, a music and sports journalist, and a writer for the LEGO® company, earning an MA in Creative Writing for Young People along the way. He is a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and continues to write for PC Gamer. His US Bestselling debut Orphan Monster Spy was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards and the Branford Boase Award, as well as winning the 2019 SCBWI Crystal Kite. The sequel, Devil Darling Spy, was published in spring 2020, just as the world ended.

Jessica Hare, Agent

Jessica Hare is a literary agent, running the Children’s Books department at The Agency (London) Ltd, who was selected as one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars for 2023. Jessica recently stepped up to take over from Hilary Delamere and now represents established authors and illustrators including Malorie Blackman, Lydia Monks and the Michael Bond Estate, as well as emerging talent such as debuts Ash Bond and Nadia Mikail, this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winner. Jessica represents children’s book authors and illustrators across every age range and genre and is especially open-minded to middle-grade stories, graphic novelists and non-fiction proposals at the moment.

Jasmine Richards, Author, Editor, Storymix

Jasmine Richards is the founder of Storymix, a multi-award-winning fiction studio that puts kids of colour at the heart of stories and platforms talented creators. In 2023, she was awarded a special commendation for Editor of the Year at the British Book Awards. Jasmine has written 15 books, including The Mythkeeper.

Stephanie King, Editor, Co-Director Megaphone

Stephanie is a freelance editor with over sixteen years’ experience in the children’s and young adult books publishing industry. As Commissioning Fiction Editor at Usborne Publishing, she commissioned and edited an elective range of books for 7+ up to YA by bestselling, award-winning authors including Sara Hagger-Holt, William Hussey, Ann M Martin, Serena Patel, Meredith Russo and Darren Simpson. As a freelance editor, Stephanie works with a variety of children’s publishers including Faber and Hachette, as well as working with the inclusive fiction studio, Storymix, and as a mentor and editor at the Golden Egg Academy. She is also a Co-Director at Megaphone Write C.I.C., a mentoring scheme for unpublished children’s writers of colour.

Anthony Hinton, Editor, DfB

Anthony Hinton is a Commissioning Editor at David Fickling Books and is part of the team at The Phoenix Comic, where he edits the comic books produced through the DFB/Phoenix partnership, including Jamie Smart's number 1 bestselling Bunny vs Monkey, Neill Cameron's Mega Robo Bros, Laura Ellen Anderson's Evil Emperor Penguin, Adam and Lisa Murphy's Corpse Talk and many more. He has edited many books of children's and YA prose fiction - and non-fiction - working with writers including the Carnegie-shortlisted Candy Gourlay, the YA-prize shortlisted Melinda Salisbury, and the legendary Anne Fine, and was himself shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award for editing the late Tony Mitton's Potter's Boy. He is also an occasional writer for The Phoenix comic, including on their choose-your-own-adventure series Fates and Fortunes. @dfb_storyhouse and @phoenixcomicuk

Neill Cameron, Author, Cartoonist

Neill Cameron is an award-winning author and cartoonist. He is the creator of several comic books, including the Mega Robo Bros series and How to Make Awesome Comics. He is also the author/illustrator of Freddy vs School; Freddy and the New Kid and Freddy the Superstar – Freddy vs School was shortlisted for the Lollies Book Awards. Neill’s comics appear regularly in The Phoenix, the weekly story comic. He lives in Oxford where he works closely with, and runs comics clubs at, The Story Museum.  @neillcameron

Peter Bunzl, Author

Peter Bunzl is the author of nine middle grade novels: four Victorian steampunk mysteries, The Cogheart Adventures, three illustrated fantasy novellas, Featherlight, The Clockwork Queen and Dragonracers, and two Georgian fairytales, Magicborn and Glassborn. He lives in London with his partner and their cat and dog.

Candy Gourlay, Author

Candy Gourlay was born in the Philippines, grew up under a dictatorship and met her husband during a revolution. She has been shortlisted for the Waterstones and the Blue Peter Prize (Tall Story), the Guardian Prize (Shine) and the Costa and Carnegie (Bone Talk). Her latest novel for young adults Wild Song transports its characters to the 1904 World Fair in America. She loves making comics and waging war on the snails in her garden. “Wild Song is a stunning achievement” The Bookseller. Find her on • Twitter @candygourlay • Instagram @candygourlay

Mo O'Hara, Author

Mo O'Hara is the author of the New York Times bestselling series, My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish. She writes picture books like More People to Love Me and Romeosaurus and Juliet Rex and write the graphic novel series Agent Moose which Jess Bradley illustrates. She is currently writing a young fiction series with Anderson Press called Honey's Hive. Mo lives in London with her husband, two cats and two nearly grown-up kids. She enjoys travelling around the country ( and the world) telling stories, leading workshops and talking about books with kids.

Libby Hamilton, Editor, Rocket Bird Books

Libby Hamilton (she/her) is publisher of brand new picture book list Rocket Bird Books which launched in April 2023. She has worked for Frances Lincoln, Templar Books, Andersen Press and now on her own imprint for HarperCollins. During a career spanning over 20 years, worked with some incredible authors and illustrators including Joseph Coelho, Jonny Duddle, Levi Pinfold, Julia Sarda, Tony Ross, David McKee, Michael Morpurgo and Michelle Robinson. Phew! Books that she has worked on have won the Kate Greenaway Medal (twice), the Lollies and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, among other awards. Libby lives in London with her partner and little boy.

Paula Harrison, Author

Paula Harrison is the author of more than fifty children's books including *The Rescue Princesses* and the *Kitty *series. She's sold millions of books worldwide and has had her stories translated into more than twenty-five languages. She wanted to be a writer from a very young age but spent many happy years being a primary school teacher first. Her most recent books are the *Fairytale Ninjas* series from HarperCollins.

Camilla Chester, Author

Camilla Chester is a dog walker who writes. Camilla has three self-published and one traditionally published novel, entitled Call Me Lion. Winner of the 2023 Crystal Kite Award, Camilla has been shortlisted four times in other national competitions, writes on commission for the popular online school resources, Serial Mash and Fiction Express, is member of SoA, NAWE and SCBWI, works freelance for Writers & Artists Yearbook and is represented by Veronique Baxter at DHA.

Snezana Danilovic, Author

Snezana Danilovic is a yogi, children’s picture book author and an experienced children’s yoga teacher. Her mission is to bring yoga to children through her passion for storytelling. She has spent the last 30 years writing and working in theatre and children’s TV, creating an array of characters for pre-school and early years. She is a co-founder of Happy Panda Children’s Yoga, resources for yoga and mindfulness. She lives in Windsor where she teaches yoga in local schools, nurseries and after-school clubs. Twitter @snezanawrites Instagram @happypandachildrensyoga

Clare Helen Welsh, Author

Clare Helen Welsh is a children's writer and writing tutor from Devon. She writes fiction and non-fiction picture book texts - sometimes funny, sometimes lyrical and everything in between! You can find out more about her at @ClareHelenWelsh

Natascha Biebow, MBE, Author, Editor, Co-Chair SCBWI BI

Natascha Biebow is the long-time Co-Regional Advisor of SCBWI British Isles and has organized more conferences than she can count! She is a member of the SCBWI Advisory Council, and was awarded an MBE for her services to children's writers and illustrators, and the Stephen Mooser SCBWI Member of the Year. She is the founder of Blue Elephant Storyshaping, where she coaches and mentors authors and illustrators at all levels. With 30 years' experience commissioning for large and small UK publishers, she is currently Editorial Director at Five Quills. Her book The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons, illustrated by Steven Salerno, is winner of the Irma Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature, voted for by children, an NSTA Best STEM book and JLG Gold Selection. She loves true stories and is currently working on more nonfiction picture books, a chapter book series and a novel. More about Natascha at

Alison Gardiner, Author, Co-Chair SCBWI BI

Author of two MG fantasies, The Serpent of Eridor and Alchemy, Alison has also written several picture books. Currently her YF fantasy Re-Inc is on it’s twelfth (or twenty-third) re-edit. She loves gathering flashes of ideas to weave into tales. Her brain is so full of a swirl of random ideas that it really needs de-fragging. Family doctor, mother, radio voice performer, writer, SCBWI volunteer, reasonable cook, terrible gardener (ironically), Alison Gardiner loves all her roles, but sometimes gets her priorities muddled (except for banana-bread chef; that’s always right up there). Alison lives in England and loves to travel, having spent her early years in Jamaica, USA, Gibraltar and Scotland. Despite playing tennis, racquetball also swimming and going to the gym, she still can’t touch her toes. More yoga required! She’s ridden a camel, fed elephants, cuddled snakes and patted a hippo. She attributes her wildlife fearlessness to having four children.