Goodbye - and thank you! by Jane Clarke

 I’ve loved my time on the Picture Book Den, and my career as a children’s author, but now it’s time for me to retire. 

I came to writing in my forties, having been an archaeologist, then a history teacher. It didn’t occur to me to try writing for children until I landed a job that involved reading picture books. So my first thanks go to the then librarian at Antwerp International School, Barbara Noels, for getting me started - and to my colleagues and students there who were my guinea pigs :-)  It took me several years, and many rejections,  to get published, with my first books coming out in 2001. My initial aim was to get one book with my name on it into the library where I was working, and I’m amazed to have ended up with over 130 published books. Of these, only 23 are picture books - they are the hardest of all to get published.

I wrote all of these and I didn't panic - much!

The world of children’s books has been wonderfully supportive. At the outset, fellow members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators helped me work out what I was doing, and I received a huge amount of encouragement from the late Pat and Laurence Hutchins and generous help from Tony Bradman. I’ve try to pay forward some of that help to others. I’d like to thank everyone who helped me on my way, and Celia Catchpole who saw potential in the rejection letters I sent her, and bravely took me on.  It’s been a pleasure working with her and her son James at The Catchpole Agency - and also with brilliant editors like Picture Book Den’s own Natascha Biebow- who was the very first to get me a contract!

As well as providing me with an unexpected career, writing for young children saw me through some very difficult years - my mum and dad and my husband all died suddenly within months of one another in 2001, leaving me and our two teenage sons bereft. Talking animals provided a safe ‘alternative’ world where the hours passed without pain. In the tradition of picture book happy endings, my sons and I eventually flourished, and they and my four young granddaughters fill my world with loads of love, joy and laughter (not to mention unicorns, rainbows and sparkles).

I’ll still be writing the odd thing if and when inspiration strikes, but for now I’m concentrating on spending time with my friends and family (especially if it involves cake), doing lots of voluntary work on behalf of my local Lions Club to support local and international charities -  and fitting in yoga, long walks, fossil hunting, book club and FitSteps. And I’m planning to get lots of use out of my bus pass. However did I find the time to write?

Thanks for having me on the Picture Book Den, and thank you for reading my posts and my picture books. I hope some of my books will be treasured in the way I still treasure some of my sons’ favourites. 

I’ll sign off with the biggest thanks of all to my wonderful friends for their support, and for always cheering me on. 

Love to all,

Jane x

Jane's website

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