Aspiring Writer to Published Author

Posted on 06th Feb 2018 in The Junior School

Maggie's Mittens Book Cover

ESMS Junior School teacher, Mrs Clayton, tells us how she made her dream come true with a little help from a friend, who you might recognise as our Stewart's Melville College Artist in Residence!

Mrs Clayton proved this year that by pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone you can achieve your dreams. Here she talks about the inspirational process behind writing her own children's book alongside her teaching career and raising a young family.

“We all have our own dreams and a full bucket-list. Writing a children's picture book was always at the top of mine. With the publishing business being so competitive, and the children's picture book market full of talented authors, I just didn't think it would ever happen for me.

While I've always enjoyed writing, with three young children and teaching at ESMS three days a week, I found that my writing had begun to consist mainly of shopping lists, marking jotters or answering e-mails! It was around this time that I decided to join a writing group at a local Waterstones bookshop to help me re-focus. The group met once a month, providing writing critique and general support, alongside coffee and cake.

In the end, it took somone from my new writer’s group to give me the push I needed by suggesting I send my work to a publisher. I was terrified at the thought of putting my writing out there to be judged by others, but I realised that if I didn't, my bucket-list dreams would never be realised. One year later, I was preparing for my book launch in the very same Waterstones.

After much deliberation and persuasion, I had sent my script off to Black & White Publishing in November 2016. I told nobody, since I was expecting a polite 'no thank you' response, so I was shocked when they phoned me a few weeks later and asked to see more of what I was working on. Then there was the crucial task of finding the right illustrator, a vital part of any picture book. Throughout this process, one illustrator stood out from the others. I was introduced to the talented Miss Alison Soye, Dundee Art College graduate, by the Head of Art at Stewart’s Melville College, and I knew that her designs were right for the book. The publishers snapped her up once they saw her work!

The story is a Scottish tale about a stubborn wee girl who didn't want to wear her mittens. My daughter is not always the easiest to look after, but if it wasn't for her toddler tantrums this book would not have happened. Hard work, perseverance, good fortune and good friends have all helped to make this happen."

We’re delighted to report that since Mrs Clayton's book was published in October last year, it has been a runaway success and “Maggie’s Mittens” was chosen as Waterstone’s Scottish Children’s Book of the Month.

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