My interview with Clare Helen Welsh

Welcome to another #ChatWithThePBLady. Today I’m talking with Clare Helen Welsh about her book SUNSHINE AT BEDTIME. Illustrated by Sally Soweol Han.

📚Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

I think I’m a bit of both! I like and need time on my own to recharge, but love being with, and interacting with, people, too. I just find it exhausting at times.

📚How do you like your coffee?

I actually don’t drink coffee! Or any hot drinks, except hot chocolate, which I take with cream, marshmallows and all the toppings!

📚Who is a mentor to you?
My agent, Alice Williams, is a huge part of my writing process and the reason I’m able to make wonderful books for people to enjoy. Her feedback is supportive and encouraging. She champions my work and knows how to steer my ideas to make them commercial.

I’m also inspired by all the many writers out there creating fantastic books for readers to enjoy. I’m particularly in awe of Amy Sparkes, who writes across many genres and age groups and is a beacon of support to the writing community. I went to one of her workshops when I was early on in my career – she oozes kindness, and her energy is incredible.

📚What’s the best weather for writing?
Because I used to write when I was also a fulltime teacher, I’m used to snatching time here and there. I can write in any weather, but I do love the sunshine, even if it’s cold. (Christmas day weather!)

📚Now, let’s talk about SUNSHINE BEFORE BEDTIME. I think this is such a unique premise for a bedtime story. Can you briefly tell us what inspired the idea for this book?
The process for this book was interesting, and differs from my other published stories. I was approached by editor, Rachel Lawrence, who asked if I would consider writing a book that explained why the sun set later in the summer, helping children (and parents!) with lighter bedtimes. The brief was that the story should be educational but magical! I absolutely love writing books merge the line between fact and fiction, so I jumped at the chance.

📚The title itself is so intriguing and inviting. What was the process like for coming up with this title?
Most often when I’m writing, I start with a title, but in this case the idea came first so finding a title was trickier. I put forward several ideas and Rachel and I settled on Sunshine At Bedtime. It’s lyrical, fun to say aloud and encompasses the themes of the story perfectly.

📚Did you learn anything new and interesting about the sun while you were writing the story?
Oh yes! This is just one of the reasons why writing hybrid picture books is so much fun – I’m always learning new things! A lot of my research was about seasons and how much extra sunlight we gain. Did you know that in London, in March, we gain approximately four minutes of daylight every day? This website tells you more! Sunrise and sunset times in London (timeanddate.com)

📚Can you think of any activities that children may enjoy doing after reading your book?
I’m in the process of putting together some activities that consolidate the learning in Sunshine At Bedtime, which allow children to explore the themes further. I’d definitely recommend looking at how much daylight week gain each day/week. Another idea I’ve had is to make a model of the moon revolving around the Earth, and the Earth moving around the Sun with a paper plate and split pins. Watch this space! At the back of the book there is also a Let’s Learn More page, so children can find out about the science in the book in more detail.

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