Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2018 Conference Faculty: Selina Alko

Meet the faculty of the 2018 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.

Selina Alko, Author-Illustrator

It is no wonder that award-winning writer-illustrator Selina Alko now spends her days melding words and mixed-media art to convey stories of hope and inspiration—as well as an alternative viewpoint. Growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia with a Turkish father who spoke seven languages and taught painting, and a mother who worked in the family’s century old metal recycling business, she was surrounded by the melody of words and stories from different places, and varied visual possibilities; her affinity for working with words and art was established early on, as was an interest in establishing a creative family environment that encouraged personal expression. The diverse world view she was privy to have inspired and fueled her ever since, and they are evident in her books such as The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage which she co-created with her husband Sean Qualls; Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt and co-illustrated with Qualls; and B is for Brooklyn which she wrote and illustrated herself.

Selina Alko
Selina Alko

What attracted you to children’s books?

I like telling stories and creating sequential images. Working on a long narrative and living with a project for many months (or years) appeals to me a great deal.

What’s the best part of your job?

The excitement of creating new imagery and telling unique stories. It’s intellectually satisfying and rewarding when the art becomes an actual book.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Making sure I have new contracts/projects in the works while I’m immersed in current ones, so that I avoid dry periods.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?

Find your own, unique ‘style’ and tell stories that are personal in some way.

Come see Selina at the 2018 Austin SCBWI conference, April 28-29, 2018