Erin Le Clerc grew up with seven siblings, three ghosts, two eccentric parents, and a multitude of animals in a crumbling abandoned hospital in the suburbs. This vastly informed her imagination! She’s also tremendously proud of her Australian “bush heritage,” which she inherited from her Nana Maureen – Australia’s Champion Swiss Yodeller in the 1940s – the subject of her debut picture book I’ve Got A Cow Called Maureen. Erin spends her “9 to 5” working as a psychologist, and her “5 to 9” writing inspirational stories filled with adventure and fun.
Who or what inspired you?
I come from a family of very creative people: lots of performers, singers, songwriters, dancers, musicians, artists, crafters, and writers. Creativity was always valued and encouraged in my family, and when I declared to my Nana, aged 3, that I was going to be a writer, her response was “of course you are, darling!” Having the freedom (and permission) to explore any element of creativity that spoke to me was the foundation of my becoming a writer.
What has been your journey up to this point?
I wrote poetry and songs as a teenager, blogged about fashion in my 20s, and always dreamed of becoming a published author, but thought it was an impossible task. A few years ago, I decided to do something to progress this dream, and on the recommendation of a friend, signed up for a Children’s Book Academy course ‘Middle Grade Mastery’. I loved it so much, that I enrolled in their picture book course a month later. Maureen’s story came from there! It was an opportunity to submit at the end of a CBA course that led to Clear Fork purchasing I’ve Got A Cow Called Maureen, and the rest is history!
What are you working on now?
I’ve written three picture book manuscripts, which I’m submitting to agents at present in the hope of finding representation. I’m also working on a pile of other picture book ideas, and writing a middle grade fantasy novel that’s been floating in my imagination for some years now. I attend regular writing courses, because I find it helps me improve my craft, stay on track, and get more writing done.
As a child, what was your relationship with books?
I have always loved reading books, and I’m fairly certain my bookworm mum is to blame! We had a house piled with books, and I quickly made through mum’s trove of her own childhood books. My first literary obsession was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, and I still fancy joining them on an adventure! Books feel like friends to me, and while it doesn’t always do much for the tidiness of my home, I hope I am always surrounded by piles of these gateways to mystery, adventure, and magic.
What is the most important thing about what you do?
I’m an introvert, and as a kid, felt shy and uncertain of my place. Books were an escape from trouble, a friend when I felt lonely or awkward, and inspired me to think more broadly than my own limited life experience. I hope to similarly inspire children with my own writing, especially those kids like me, who spend half their childhood curled up in the corner of a library!
What are the challenges you face in this industry?
It’s a tough industry. Picture books are often a difficult sell to publishers, because they’re a large financial investment, and a lot of agents and publishing houses only accept manuscripts from their existing stable of authors. I’m working on diversifying my writing, so that I can offer picture books, chapter books, and middle grade stories for submission. I suspect offering a broader range of manuscripts helps you find a foothold with a wider field of publishers.
What advice can you offer to aspiring authors?
Start somewhere, anywhere! The first step is to get out of your head: your inner critic is NOT a good housemate.
Next: educate yourself, grow your craft, learn what the industry is looking for, learn how to structure stories, and understand what sells.
Then: join critique groups, and get feedback. This was, and is, the greatest gift for me. Having other writers examine and critique your writing helps you ENORMOUSLY. Find some lovely people who are trustworthy and kind, but who are willing to tell you what’s not working.
Last: start submitting your work! You can’t be published if your work is hiding in a folder on your computer, or in a notebook on your desk.
Having a resilient mindset is important for dealing with setbacks. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, knowing that you have books in the world that are just waiting for children to love them.
What is your definition of success?
The older I get, the less ambitious my idea of success becomes. I love that old adage: that we all need something to do, something to look forward to, and someone to love. Success for me is chasing some dreams, and living a purposeful life, infused with kindness, compassion, and contribution.
What is your ultimate goal?
I think my early “ultimate goal” for writing was to have a New York Times bestseller. I used to believe that one bestseller could make a career, but I’ve learned it really isn’t.
Now, having a life-long career as an author (with multiple publications) is the ultimate dream. It’s about producing lots of quality stories, and working hard to get them out there!
Contact Erin Le Clerc
Buy The Book: https://www.amazon.com.au/Ive-Got-Cow-Called-Maureen/dp/1946101893/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=cow+called+maureen&qid=1554266660&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull (make sure to select amazon.com.au as your seller!)