What of life after Undiscovered Voices? Previous Finalist, Andi Ipaktchi (UV2016), takes a wry look at her journey from illustrator and printmaker to comedy writer and performerin our latest guest blog post.
The Hot Seat
“What are you working on?”
With those five words, our entire dinner table full of artists, writers, actors, and composers fell silent, not just me. Seconds before the question, I was chattering away like a chipmunk. Now I was staring down at my dish. Perhaps a good answer would appear inscribed in the log rings of my roasted parsnips. I could hear someone pouring himself a very, tall glass of wine.
“Well?” the blockhead insisted. He was looking straight at me. He would have addressed me by name, if he had known it, but I was new. I was here to reunite with my friend. We had made plans months ago to and now she was seated right next to me.
I waved my napkin to my mouth to feign a mouth full of food and looked at the actors. Surely, they would be happy to talk about themselves? But they just stared back. My friend tapped my boot heel with hers. She was on to me. I didn’t have a good answer for the blockhead and she knew it.
The truth was that we had shown up at the arts residency together because we brought out the best in each other. We liked volleying stories back and forth while the other diners fueled us with their laughter. In fact, they were the ones who encouraged us to return to write it all down.
She is a short story writer; I’m an illustrator and printmaker. We had returned to create a comedy of some kind, or another. Maybe a scripted sketch for Youtube. Or a podcast. Or a cartoon strip. Or why not a play? Or a live performance for kids.. or a Tiktok dance for old people. But definitely not a book. (Or maybe a book.) We had no idea, but we were there to figure that part out.
It had felt like a pretty solid plan, but now I felt exposed. Naïve. Foolish.
Being asked too soon into the creative process, “what are you working on?” can feel like a stranglehold on a newborn’s neck. I wanted to give him a simple but satisfying answer so he would move on. Being too vague might sound coy and incite even morequestions. I stopped chewing and put my napkin down on my lap.
“My partner and I are taking a leap of faith that our combined creative energies will transform into something artistically viable.” But I didn’t say that because only a twit would talk like that.
Instead, my partner piped in. She blew across her green tea and said, “We’re working on something together.” (She has such a way with words, doesn’t she?)
“Like a creative collaboration?” asked the blockhead.
“Yes. A creative collaboration.” And that was enough. He was satisfied. He stabbed a small potato with his knife and popped it into his mouth.
Each evening at dinner, our collaboration process drew more interest than the project itself. We became a two-headed monster novelty. Our project began to take form. Our stories began to volley back and forth across the table once again. (Even the blockhead laughed.)
A year later, we have written Season 1 of our audio comedy about a house full of international guests and staff at an arts residency in rural Ireland. But you probably want to know more about the collaboration. I’d tell you, but I can’t. There is no way to explain it, without sounding like a twit.
So, tell me… What are youworking on?
Andi Ipaktchi is an American illustrator, printmaker, comedy writer and performer. She is an illustration graduate from Parsons School of Design. Since Undiscovered Voices 2016, she continues to exhibit her prints and paint. In 2021, she co-wrote and co-directed a scripted, audio comedy with Aoibheann McCannn called: RETREAT (Another Painful Irish Family History) due out in the autumn. She encourages the UV community to contact her when travelling to Paris to take her famous Deux Centime, French, kid-lit tour. Her family really doesn’t mind.
UV 2018 finalist Deborah Sheehy has signed a contract to illustrate a picture book with Starfish Bay Publishers who contacted her after seeing examples of her artwork online. The book is called ‘Ape with a Cape’ (think hairdresser rather than superhero!) and features an array of whimsical fun creatures and is due to be published in 2019.
Deborah is also currently collaborating with a London author on a picture book telling an epic tale of courage and friendship, in which a polar bear cub adventures to the South Pole to reunite with his best friend. The author had been seeking an illustrator to work with and found Deborah through the 2018 UV Anthology. ‘The Last Iceberg’ is currently under review for publication.
Deborah daily finds herself astonished and delighted at these wonderful opportunities and is deeply grateful to the UV team for the opportunity to be part of the Anthology, as well as their support, sage advice and goodwill.
We are pleased to announce the longlist of writers and illustrators who will be considered for the Undiscovered Voices 2018 anthology. These talented writers and illustrators were selected from a record-breaking number of submissions from SCBWI members in Europe.
Janet Catherine Gibson Pickering
Jessica Chuan Ping Lai
The shortlist of writers and illustrators to be featured in the Undiscovered Voices 2018 anthology will be selected from the list above and announced in early January.
As ever, the quality of submissions was extremely high and the judges had a very difficult time deciding on a longlist.
The Undiscovered Voices team endeavours to create an anthology that showcases the variety of writing and illustration available from SCBWI members in the British Isles and the European Union. The goal of the anthology is not only to help the selected authors and illustrators to find agents and editors, but also to promote the quality of work abounding in SCBWI in Europe.
The stories and illustrations were submitted anonymously and selected by a distinguished panel of industry experts:
Chrissie Boehm, Artful Doodlers
Claire Cartey, Holroyde Cartey
Lauren Fortune, Scholastic
Andrea Kearny, Bloomsbury Publishing
Sarah Leonard, Orchard Books
Joanna Moult, Skylark Literary Agency
Polly Nolan, The Greenhouse Literary Agency
Gillie Russell, Aitken Alexander Associates
Hannah Sheppard, DHH Literary Agency
Kirsty Stansfield, Nosy Crow
Will Steele, Osborne Books
Nghiem Ta, Walker Books
Congratulations to the talented Undiscovered Voices longlisted writers and illustrators!
All the best,
The Undiscovered Voices Team
Rosie Best, Catherine Coe, Jenny Glencross, Sara Grant, Simon James Green, Patrick Miller, Anne-Marie Perks, Loretta Schauer, Benjamin Scott and Tioka Tokedira
SCBWI and sponsors Working Partners are delighted to announce that submissions for the sixth Undiscovered Voices competition are now open. Undiscovered Voices helps fresh, new voices in children’s literature find agents and publishers.
The Undiscovered Voices anthology will include twelve fiction extracts – from early readers up to young adult novels – and twelve black-and-white illustrations. The anthology will be published in February 2018 and sent free of charge to editors, art directors and agents whose focus is children’s literature. The book is produced with the financial support of Working Partners Ltd, a London-based company that creates series fiction.
Submissions will be accepted between 1st July and 15th August 2017 via an online submissions process. There is no submission fee, but only unagented and unpublished members of SCBWI living in the UK and Europe (writing in the English language) are eligible.
From the five previous anthologies, Undiscovered Voices featured authors and illustrators have received publishing contracts for more than 200 books. The authors have been nominated for and won an amazing array of literary prizes: including the Carnegie Medal, Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, Branford Boase Award, Blue Peter Award, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and over 30 regional awards.
The following judges will select the extracts and illustrations to be included in the anthology:
As we get closer to the opening of UV submissions, we’re posting tips to make sure your submission stands the best chance of making it into the anthology. Today, we’re talking illustrators!
FLIPPING, MULTIPLE SCREENS and FILE SIZE
Illustrator and committee member Patrick Miller suggests before you get ready to send, make sure you do the following:
Flip Your Image
If you haven’t already, flip your image horizontally so that you can see the mirror image of it – you’ll be amazed at how it highlights any errors of proportion, perspective and anatomy. It’s never too late to check and amend.
Check on Different Screens
Check your image on lots of devices, not just your computer screen. Everyone’s screens are different so have a look on a phone, an iPad, on a friend’s computer, and when printed out. The judges won’t know exactly what values you intend your image to have so it’s good to feel sure that they’ll see what you want them to see!
File Size and Resolution
Make sure your online submission image is 72dpi and under 1Mb in filesize, and make sure you saved the 600dpi version separately – we’ll need that for the anthology!
Check back soon for some writing top tips before you submit.
Imogen Noxell reports in Words & Pictures on the recent SCBWI Masterclass on black & white illustration at the House of Illustration, in preparation for #UV2018. Anne-Marie Perks, Loretta Schauer, and Patrick Miller share their inspiration, working materials and top advice. Check out the write up here.
We are excited to announce that hot on the heels of the Undiscovered Voices 2018 launch, we’ll be answering questions as part of the very first #scbwichat from 8 to 9pm on Thursday 11th May. Answering questions for both writing and illustration will be:
This is an excellent opportunity for everyone to catch up on all the information that was given at the UV launch (especially for those who couldn’t make it) or to clarify things that were talked about. The committee will also give some hints and tips on putting together a great submission and will share some of the advice that was given by the judges on the launch day.
Undiscovered Voices is an initiative by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) British Isles to help fresh, new voices in children’s literature – both writers and illustrators – find agents, publishers and ultimately readers.
See you from 8 to 9pm on Thursday 11th May on twitter as part of #scbwichat.
We are delighted to announce that Frances Hardinge and Alexis Deacon are to be UV2018’s Honorary Chairs.
Frances Hardinge – Honorary Author Chair
Frances Hardinge was brought up in a sequence of small, sinister English villages, and spent a number of formative years living in a Gothic-looking, mouse-infested hilltop house in Kent. She studied English Language and Literature at Oxford, fell in love with the city’s crazed archaic beauty, and lived there for many years.
Whilst working full time as a technical author for a software company she started writing her first children’s novel, Fly by Night, and was with difficulty persuaded by a good friend to submit the manuscript to Macmillan. Seven of her books have now been published, all aimed at children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Lie Tree, won the Costa Book of the Year Award, the fiction category of the Boston Globe Hornbook Award and the 12-16 age category of the UKLA Awards.
Frances is seldom seen without her hat and is addicted to volcanoes.
Alexis Deacon – Honorary Illustrator Chair
Alexis Deacon is a writer and illustrator of children’s books. His first book, Slow Loris, was published in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award. In 2015 it was named one of the hundred best children’s books of all time by Time Magazine.
He has twice been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal and is a two time recipient of The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award. In 2014, The River, won the Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize. In 2008 he was chosen by Booktrust as one of the ten best new illustrators of the preceding decade.
Alexis’ latest book, Geis, Nobrow Press, is the first in an epic trilogy genre-spanning a mix of supernatural, historical fantasy, action and folk tale.
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) British Isles will once again help fresh, new voices in children’s literature find agents and publishers through its Undiscovered Voices project.
The Undiscovered Voices anthology will include twelve fiction extracts – from early readers up through young adult novels – and up to twelve black-and-white illustrations. The anthology will be published in February 2018 and sent free of charge to editors, art directors and agents whose focus is children’s literature. The book is produced with the financial support of Working Partners Ltd, a London-based company that creates series fiction.
Submissions will be accepted between 1st July to 15th August 2017 via an online submissions process. There is no submissions’ fee, but only unagented and unpublished members of SCBWI living in the UK and Europe (writing in the English language) are eligible.
Authors and illustrators from the five previous anthologies have received publishing contracts for more than 120 books. The authors have been nominated for and won an amazing array of literary prizes: including the Carnegie Medal, Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, Branford Boase Award, Blue Peter Award, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and more than 30 regional awards.
The Undiscovered Voices team will launch the project with an event:
Tuesday 2 May 2017
from 6:30 p.m.to 8:30 p.m.
at the Hachette UK Head Office (Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0DZ) in the 6th Floor Storey Café