Clare Helen Welsh – Author Interview

clarehelenwelshpicA warm, ‘unrude’ welcome to picture book writer Clare Helen Welsh. How Rude! is just about to hit the shelves, it’s delightfully funny (read our thoughts here), and was just what we expected from the author of Aerodynamics of Biscuits.

Tell us about you in 25 words or less.

Primary school teacher, writer, wife and mummy. Creative, excitable and loves a challenge. Can make something out of nothing. (Honestly. People hide things from me!)

howrudeHow Rude!, your picture book with Olivier Tallec, is about to hit the shelves, how did it come to be?

How Rude! started out as a text called Don’t Poke the Penguin! It was submitted to the team at Quarto by my lovely agent, Alice Williams. It had a facelift under Quarto’s guidance, in which I rewrote it from third person narrative to dialogue only …and changed the animal, too! I’ve always wanted to write a dialogue only text, so I was thrilled when the editor suggested we give it a try. I’m so pleased with the result!

Where is your favourite place to write?

My bedroom! It’s comfy. I have a stack of books, pads of paper and a plug all by my bed so I’ve basically commandeered it as my office. I like background noise so I either have the TV or some music on, unless it’s late at night (which it often is!) My husband has offered to build me a writing shed in the garden but I’d be lonely and worried I was missing out on something!

I’m trying my hand at writing chapter books for 7+ , so I’ve got The 13-Storey Treehouse, by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton to read. [We are HUGE fans of that series at MYBookCorner!] I also can’t wait to get my hands on Claire Barker’s Picklewitch and Jack, illustrated by Teemu Juhani. [me too!]

What’s your worst habit?

Never switching off. Ever. I only really rest when I sleep. But it’s also my best habit. If I’m passionate or enthusiastic about something, it’s all-consuming and I don’t stop until I’ve got it right! Yes, I’m a bit of a perfectionist too.

The strangest question you’ve ever been asked?

“Why are you still here?” at an author visit in a primary school. I think the child was hoping he’d seen the last of me after the whole-school assembly. But alas, he was in my workshop too! Children are the best company (usually!)

Your favourite word(s)?

“Yes!” You just never know where an opportunity might lead. (This doesn’t apply to housework. That only ever leads to more of the same!) Also, anything from the dictionary of Gobblefunk (the language of Roald Dahl).

Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?

I joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) as a sort of New Year’s resolution. Each year I like to try my hand at something new. I won a SCBWI scholarship in 2013, won second prize in the Greenhouse Funny Prize in 2014 and met my now agent, Alice, at the SCBWI annual conference in 2015. Joining SCBWI was the best thing I ever did. I now have four published books and six more on the way!

What are your top tips for budding picture book writers?

Critique groups are invaluable. Get feedback on ideas, learn your craft and reap the rewards of recognising and giving praise to others. What’s more, critique partners will probably become your friends too. It’s everything to have people to share and celebrate successes with.

Can you give us a glimpse/hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)

I’m working on a chapter book for children aged 7yrs+ about a practical and creative female inventor. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but I’m very much enjoying the challenge!

Did we forget anything?

If you’re in or around London during October half term, come and say hello! I’ll be launching How Rude! with fellow writer and friend, Fiona Barker, in Waterstones Gower Street on Tuesday 23rd October. More details here.

Just for fun

Tea or coffee?

Neither (Hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream!)

Seaside or countryside?


Paper books or e-books?

Paper books

Cake or chocolate?


Write or type?


Poetry or prose?


Hot or cold?

Hot, but I do love the snow. (So pretty and so peaceful)



Read My Book Corner’s review of How Rude!

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