Our children’s book editors

The Writers Workshops book industry connections are second to none. We have wonderful connections with some of the best childrens editors and literary agents in the business, and have had bestselling and prizewinning clients in every major category of childrens and YA fiction. If your book is good enough, well help you take the next step. Read more on our editors giving manuscript feedback for childrens stories, from picture books to middle grade and Young Adult fiction.


Jon Appleton

Jon has 20 years’ experience in-house as a childrens books editor, working across different age groups and genres. His first job, at Scholastic, involved desk editing Horrible Histories and other non-fiction. At A&C Black, he commissioned the Blue Peter Award-winning Ultimate Book Guide and developed a guided reading scheme with books by Joan Aiken, Viv French and Geraldine McCaughrean. At Orion, he edited Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries novels and spin-offs, and stand-alone fiction, including Linda Newbery’s Nestle Award-winning Catcall. At Hachette in Australia he developed an award-winning and commercial picture book list and, most recently, back in the UK, published writers including Babette Cole and Catherine Fisher, and worked on the Enid Blyton Estate. Jon has been an Undiscovered Voices Judge, has contributed to the Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature, and has served a few. His titles include the picture books Burger Boy (Winner of the Portsmouth Children’s Book Award 2007), Football Fever (Winner of the Stockport Children’s Book Award 2007) and Billy Monster’s Daymare (Winner of the Royal Mail Award for Scottish Children’s Books 2008); the novelty title Dear Tooth Fairy (shortlisted for the Children’s Book Award); the junior fiction story Gameboy (runner-up for the Portsmouth and Nottingham Children’s Book Awards); and the young adult thrillers Blood and Flesh and Bones.

Alan Durant

Alan has written over seventy books for children of all ages, from picture books to young adult thrillers. He writes in many different genres: comedy, mystery, sport, horror, school story, to name but a few. His titles include the picture books Burger Boy (Winner of the Portsmouth Children’s Book Award 2007), Football Fever (Winner of the Stockport Children’s Book Award 2007) and Billy Monster’s Daymare (Winner of the Royal Mail Award for Scottish Children’s Books 2008); the novelty title Dear Tooth Fairy (shortlisted for the Children’s Book Award); the junior fiction story Gameboy (runner-up for the Portsmouth and Nottingham Children’s Book Awards); and the young adult thrillers Blood and Flesh and Bones. He worked for many years in children’s publishing as an editor and copywriter before becoming a full-time author in 2004. He is a frequent visitor to schools, libraries and festivals around the UK and abroad giving talks and running writing workshops. He also writes for children’s television. His first book received many rejections before eventually being accepted for publication so he knows just how tough this business can be. Alan lives just south of London with his wife and three children, who have been the inspiration for many of his stories.

Alex Gutteridge

Alex has had 12 children’s books published and has worked with a variety of editors and major publishing houses. Several of her books have been submitted as unsolicited manuscripts and she is living proof that it is possible to emerge triumphant from the slush pile. Alex has written across the board with her work including young fiction, YA, a novel for pre-teens, a ghost story for reluctant readers and recently two picture books for a South Korean publishing company. Her work has been issued in large print by the BBC, put on tape and broadcast on the radio. Her YA novel, Last Chance Angel, was short-listed for six awards including the Romantic Novelist of the Year Award and her second YA novel, No Going Back has recently won the Northamptonshire Children’s Choice Book Awards. When it comes to writing, Alex is a strong believer in the benefits of practise, patience and perseverance. She believes that if you really want to be a writer then you can be a writer. She is married, has three children and lives in Leicester.

Brian Keaney

Brian has written fifteen novels for young people, including The Hollow People, published in 2006, the first in a new fantasy trilogy. He worked for many years as an English teacher, and that was when he became interested in writing for young people. For him, writing for children is one of the most important jobs on the planet. “Without children’s authors there would be no new readers and the whole community of literature would slowly begin to collapse and die.” He has also written over forty non-fiction books, and training materials for teachers and teaching assistants. His works have been published by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Heinemann, Stanley Thornes, Macmillan Educational, Hodder and Ebury Press. Brian tutors our successful Writing For Children Course and for fifteen years he worked as a freelance journalist and copy-writer and produced educational materials for a variety of media organisations, government departments and commercial organisations. He is married, and has two children.

Daren King

Daren has written since he was old enough to pick up a pen without putting it in his mouth. His first childrens novel, Mouse Noses on Toast, won first prize in the 6-8 age category of the Nestle Childrens Book Prize, and his debut adult novel, Boxy and Star, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and longlisted for the Booker Prize. His books have been published around the world, including Canada and the US, and have been translated into Italian, German and Russian. Daren also offers a Complete Novel Writing Course and welcomes any potential new students who want to be mentored through the entire novel writing cycle: from first sentence to final full stop.

Author photo credited to Rankin.

Fay Sampson

Fay is the author of numerous books for both adults and children. Her work draws heavily on myth, the Arthurian legends, and the historical world of Celtic and post-Roman Britain. Works for adults include the Morgan Le Fay series, The Island Pilgrimage and The Silent Fort. Works for children include The Sorcerer’s Trap, Them, and the Pangur Ban stories. She has been shortlisted three times for the Guardian Children’s Book award, and is winner of the Barco de Vapor award for The Watch on Patterick Fell. She also writes non-fiction books on historical themes. Fay writes full time and lives in a Tudor cottage in the West Country.

Isabel Thomas

Isabel has written more than 100 non-fiction and fiction titles for children and young adults – from picture books to encyclopaedias – published by A&C Black, Collins, Curious Fox, Dorling Kindersley, Laurence King, Oxford University Press, Pearson, Raintree and Wayland. She also works with authors as a freelance commissioning editor. Before becoming a writer, Isabel studied Human Sciences at Oxford University and spent ten years working in-house in children’s publishing. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and three rambunctious sons.

Val Tyler

Val is the author of two books for children, The Time Wreccas and The Time Apprentice. The first of these was shortlisted for the inaugural Ottakar’s children’s book prize, and was also the Ottakar’s Book of the Month. The second was praised by The Independent for its ‘clever pseudo-science, attractive characterisation and well-sustained suspense.Val was a teacher for twenty years, teaching every age group from five to eighteen. She now writes full time and lives deep in the Welsh countryside.

Philip Womack

PhilipWPhilip is the author of The Other Book and The Liberators. The Liberators was a Children’s Book of the Year for 2010 in The Times and The Daily Telegraph. The Broken King and The Kings Shadow are the first two of a trilogy, the final part of which is due to appear in 2016. His books have been widely critically acclaimed. Born in Chichester, he was educated at Lancing College and read Classics and English at Oriel College, Oxford. He now lives in London. He has been a Fellow at First Story, leading creative writing workshops in inner city schools, for four years. He created and led the Children’s Creative Writing course for the How To: Academy.


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