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Helena Pielichaty

How many books have you had published?

Did you write for fun when you were at school?
I don't know about 'for fun' but creative writing was always a favourite lesson.

Have you always earned your living as a writer? If not, what else have you done/do you still do?

I have yet to earn a living as a one! I have been a teacher for 22 years but I have done other things -bar maid, shop assistant, packer in a sweet factory.

When was your first book published and what was it called?
1998, Vicious circle

Was it difficult to get your first book published?
It was accepted by the second publisher my agent sent it to but it took 3 rewrites and 2 years to get it right before an agent took it on.

Which is your favourite of your own books and why?
My 'favourite' is always the one I'm working on but its a bit like asking a parent to admit to having a favourite child.

Which is your favourite children's book written by someone else?

 Most Morris Gleitzman,
   Goodnight Mr. Tom,
   Harry P(!)
   Tracy Beaker-Wilson
   Family from One End Street - Eve Garrett

Older ?
   I am David - Ann Holm
How long does it take you to write a book?
From 6 months to 3 years (I'm getting faster though)

Do you use a computer or write first drafts long hand?

Computer first, corrected by hand than back to the computer for the final touches.

Do you have a writing routine or just write when you feel like it?
Depends on what else is going on -teaching / visits etc. But I aim for 2-3 hour in a morning and than return in the evening if I'm buzzing.

Rewriting - do you love it or hate it?

Generally enjoy the process though its hard cutting out great passages for the sake of pace -has to be done sadly!

Have you ever belonged to a writers' group? If so, did it help?

I attended one briefly when I began but it wasn't for me - no like minded bods to empathise with. Comments like "They weren't like that when I was at school" aren't particularly helpful. I meet with three other writers for a read aloud every few months.

Have you got an agent?
Yes Lesley Hadcroft

Why do you like writing for children?

It seemed like a natural progression from teaching. I think childhood is such a defining time -its always the part of biographies and autobiographies I enjoy the most.

How do you get your ideas?
Some arrive out of nowhere, others begin with a newspaper report /life experience
I still teach. 1 class of 30 kids = 30 stories!

Do you draw the pictures for your books?
No. I did 'A' Level art many years ago but I couldn't achieve anything like the standard needed.

What advice would you offer anyone who wants to write for children?
Read, read, read.
Visit schools, keep up to date
Find a style that suits you - don't try to be trendy if you're not trendy!

Are you willing to do author visits to schools?
I already do author visits - and workshops and events.

Come equipped with pen and paper. Teachers be prepared to act out from scripts (they're painless, honest). Pupils be prepared to write with gusto. Question and answer sessions before and after.

Contact my agent for details:

Laurence Pollinger Ltd
18 Maddox St. Mayfair, W1R 0EU
020 7629 9761

(or contact via OUP (Catherine Stokes / Lucas North)

For a list of Helena Pielichaty's books in print, visit

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