SPOTLIGHT ON DEBUT AUTHOR, CLARE HELEN WELSH: PART 1

I'm delighted to welcome debut author, Clare Helen Welsh, to the blog today. Clare's picture book, Aerodynamics of Biscuits, is published tomorrow, September 28th. As the mother of young children and with a busy day job, not to mention the buzz being generated around her fab book, life is proving somewhat hectic for her at the moment. Nevertheless, she took time out of her busy schedule to chat to me. But before we get to the Q&A here's a little more information on the lovely Clare:

Clare lives in Devon with her husband and two children. She teaches in a primary school and has over ten years experience in Early Years and Key Stage One. In 2014 she became a Specialist Leader of Education, supporting local schools to achieve high standards in phonics, primary languages and the Early Years Foundation Stage.

In 2013, Clare won The Margaret Carey Scholarship for Picture Book Writers and she received a Silver Medal at The Greenhouse Funny Prize 2014 for her picture book, Aerodynamics of Biscuits, which is illustrated by Sophia Touliatou and published by Maverick Books on 28th September 2015. The book is available on Amazon and all good book shops. 

 

Clare is represented by Alice Williams of David Higham Associates.

Welcome to the blog, Clare, and congratulations on the publication of your debut picture book, Aerodynamic of Biscuits.

 

To start off the interview can you tell us how long have you been writing and how you came to be published?

An avid list maker, ever since my early twenties I have written a yearly ‘To Do List’ each New Year’s Eve. So it all began on the 31st December 2012, when I naively added ‘Write a book’ to my list of challenging feats that also included; try skiing, practise speaking French and lose 6lbs.  Needless to say I made all the embarrassing, rooky writing errors (and still make quite a few now) but with enormous thanks to the patience and support of my critique group, my writing started to improve. There were plenty of rejections… more than I care to admit… and I would probably have given up (and put something equally as outrageous on the next list, like ‘Go to space’) had it not been for the Margaret Carey Scholarship

 

Encouraged that someone somewhere had seen something in my writing, I attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s (SCBWI for shortConference at Winchester. I learned oodles, met friends for life and gained the tools, skills and confidence I needed to chisel away at my story ideas and learn my craft. Aerodynamics of Biscuits was picked up by Maverick Books after it won Silver Medal in the Greenhouse Funny Prize 2014. I sent my submission to Steve Bicknell after meeting him in Winchester back in 2013… and then the real fun began!

What’s Aerodynamic of Biscuits about, and what inspired the story?

Aerodynamics of Biscuits’features Oliver, a five year old boy who sneaks downstairs in the middle of the night to find pirate mice stealing his biscuits! But Captain Sneaky McSqueaky and his crew are not eating Oliver’s biscuits… they’re making rockets! Aerodynamics biscuit rockets to fly to the moon to steal cheese! Ahhharrrr!

 

The story is inspired by my son, Oliver, who loves midnight feasts and has a wonderful imagination. Click here for a lovely newspaper article about how Oliver… and his sister (who doesn’t feature in this story, but definitely will feature in one soon!) …feel about being my muse.

The talented Kymara Nye
The talented Kymara Nye

Your book cover is very eye-catching. Who designed it and did you have any part in this aspect of the published book?

Kymara Nye, editor at Maverick, designed the cover with Sophia Touliatou’s gorgeous illustrations. We agreed we wanted the cover to give an insight into the plot and Kim sent through a few drafts that mostly experimented with finding the perfect fonts. It turns out aerodynamics is a long word to fit onto a 26 x 26.5cm cover, and unusually the title is at the bottom, but it wasn’t long until we settled on the design you see today and I couldn’t be happier with it. I love the way the title is illuminated by the light of the moon and that the biscuit rocket it just how I imagined. Thank you for your hard work, Sophia and Kim!

 

Aerodynamics of Biscuits is a great title. How did you decide upon it?

It is a great title, isn’t it! Unfortunately it wasn’t me who came up with it and I can’t thank the person who did! Here’s my confession: It was April. I wanted to enter the Greenhouse Funny Prize but hadn’t written for a couple of months and was out of exciting leads. I was busy cleaning and half listening to a breakfast-style TV show, when the celebrity guest being interviewed said the phrase, ‘aerodynamics of biscuits’! …at least that’s what I heard over the hoover. I promptly searched Amazon titles and scoured the internet. When zero search results were returned, I grabbed a pen and paper and started straight away. I was so excited to begin plotting my new award-winning story idea that I didn’t take the time to see who was being interviewed!  But I am very grateful, thank you whoever you are!

Moving on from this, which comes first the title or the idea?

Sometimes I start with a concept or idea, but I have to work very hard to make sure these stories aren’t too generic and ‘quiet’. Usually for me it’s the title and these are my most successful submissions. I love working in this way. Writing is an adventure, full of plot twists and surprises and my imagination literally runs riot. But these manuscripts, if they make the cut, usually involve an awful amount of editing. Author-illustrator, Alexis Deacon, recently suggested that I have the ending in mind before I start, even if it changes. This has helped me to decide which ideas to work on first and now I sort them into a ‘To Write’ order. Yes, another list!

 

How has your work as a primary teacher influenced your writing? 

The children at The Erme Primary School are the BEST company! The things they do and say inspire me daily and with over ten years’ experience working with primary aged children, I think teaching has given me, and continues to give me, a good insight into what engages children and what they enjoy. 

 

Could you outline your writing process for us?

As a fairly new writer, with no official writing qualifications, I wouldn’t say I have a particularly consistent writing routine. Nor would I want anyone to try and emulate my haphazard way of working! But…I usually write at a computer into a Microsoft Word document. I try not to re-read and agonize over every word but it’s hard.  I always write my pictures books with spreads in mind and write numbered paragraphs to help with page turns and plot. When I’m mostly happy with a story, I then let a select number of people see it including, my long-suffering husband, my critique group, my Step-dad (the pickiest person I know), my Mum (an excellent proof-reader) and then after several re-writes, I send it to Alice, my agent.

 

Check back on September 29th for Part 2 of Clare's interview with lots more chat, incuding more about writing and…wait for it!…rubbing shoulders with X Factor's Simon Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez Versini. Yes, really! 

 

To find out more about Clare check out her website or connection with her on Twitter @ClareHelenWelsh


Write a comment

Comments: 3
  • #1

    Rebecca C (Sunday, 27 September 2015 20:46)

    Clare is such an inspiration! I don't know how she does it all. I loved the story behind the title of her forthcoming book, and the sounds of the story itself. Can't wait to read it!

  • #2

    Marcia Strykowski (Sunday, 27 September 2015 22:53)

    Fun interview and Clare's book looks great---congratulations! I'm looking forward to getting a copy. :)

  • #3

    Julie Fulton (Monday, 28 September 2015 10:33)

    Great interview - love how the title came about. It always pays to listen to what's being said around you!! I have been lucky enough to have a sneak preview of this book and it's brilliant! Congratulations, Clare.

Welcome to my website!

Hi! I'm Christina Banach, author of Minty. Thanks for dropping by my website. Please take a look around. Here you'll find news and information about me and my books. If you have any questions do get in touch through my contact page. Thank you for visiting and happy reading! 

 

REVIEW FROM THE BOOK TRUST

"This is a thought provoking debut novel about love, loss and the importance of family…A compelling and ultimately heart-warming story."

 

Please click on the link below to read the whole critique: 

http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books/view/34314


REVIEW FROM THE SCOTTISH BOOK TRUST

"Through Minty's eyes we see how family and friends are affected by bereavement. It deals with loss, love, friendship and over all, hope, resilience and strength of character. It's a haunting, eerie and beautiful read that will resonate with you for days after you read it. "


TEEN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH

I'm very grateful to the Scottish Book Trust for featuring Minty as their Teen's Book of the Month for December 2014. 

 http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog/2014/parents/11/teens-book-of-the-month-minty 

 

OTHER REVIEWS

Below are extracts of some other reviews (to read more please check out my News and Reviews page):

 

"What an amazing story! I could not put this book down!"

 

"This is one of those gems that works for young adults and also the not so young...I read it in a single sitting - something I do not ordinarily do - except for a brief pause to compose myself before the final chapter, such was the intensity of emotion the book engenders. You must read this book..."

 

"Christina's stunning style of writing succeeded in bringing tears of joy and sadness to my eyes. For a first book being this good, it makes me wonder what is yet to come."

 

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL

I was thrilled to be part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015 SCBWI panel event - How To Survive Being Published. It was a real privilege to have been invited. Thank you! 

 

Plot & Structure Event

Thank you to everyone who came to my plot and structure workshop in Edinburgh. I hope you had as much fun as I did. Thanks to Sheila Averbuch for this great write up of the day. 

 

PINTEREST 

I've created a mood board for MINTY over on Pinterest. Click here to take a look:

www.pinterest.com/cbanachauthor

 

 

 

Follow me!