In search of inspiration, Caroline Deacon invites established writers and illustrators to tell us about their creative space. This month features Coo Clayton

Coo was born in St. Andrews but has lived in Edinburgh since she moved there for university. She studied education and now teaches part time. When she’s not teaching she’s generally on a school run or freezing on the edge of a football pitch with her three young children to juggle. 

Her children’s trilogy feature the adventurous Maggie - a character inspired by her youngest child. Maggie takes the reader on a journey around Scotland learning about the wildlife, iconic statues and beauty of this country. Each book contains highs and lows of family holidays. There’s also a wee red squirrel hiding in all the pages which is great fun to spot. 

Tell us about your creative space

My creative space for writing is in my bed. Sounds ridiculous but my house is freezing most of the year and I love feeling warm when I am working. Tucked away from distractions like biscuits, washing up and the kettle. 

However, I need to be away from all things homely for ideas and creativity to come. This is often when I am driving or on a walk taking in some beautiful scenery. 

Do you need particular prompts to get started?

Nope. I have so few windows of opportunity to write with three young kids and a teaching job that I just do it when the mood takes me. I used to write a lot more in the evenings but as the kids are getting a little older I find evening writing not very productive. Total silence is required. Lots of Post-it notes around with ideas scribbled on them. 

Your creative tools - what are they?

An old laptop which needs warming up and my fingers tapping away…slowly. I have never been very quick at typing. 

Do you have a routine? 

I love a routine for family life but for writing I don’t. I need to let the ideas comes to me. Trying to force them through really doesn’t work. I can go weeks without writing at all and having no ideas whatsoever. 

What is the best creative advice you’ve been given?

If its niggling away every day you need to write it down. 

What advice would you like to give to writers who are trying to get established? 

It’s not easy. Sorry!
The reality of writing what you enjoy writing about, then finding an agent or a publisher doesn’t come about easily. I am contacted all the time by other writers asking about how to get published and get a foot in the door. But I think the simple answer is – you need to figure that out yourself. What works for one writer may not work for another and I think there is no clear path to becoming published. 

Share your work. Find a group you connect with and value their opinions to help your writing grow.

What was your favourite book as a child?

My dad would read to me most evenings. He was very good at putting on voices and expressions. I loved all the Shirley Hughes books and Topsy and Tim stories. Anything to do with naughty children.

What inspired you to first start writing? 

My eldest son became very ill several years ago. I’ve always enjoyed writing but during his illness I found a writing group as a means of escape. My own children and the trips we go on as a family inspire my Maggie stories. 

And why children?

It’s what I know about best. Being a mum of three and a primary school teacher, I am constantly surrounded by children, which can be utterly exhausting but also extremely entertaining.

All photos courtesy of Coo Clayton

Caroline Deacon lives in Edinburgh and is the author of several childcare books. She now writes MG and YA and is agented by Lindsay Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates, Edinburgh. Find her on Twitter and at

The header image is by W&P Illustration Features Editor John Shelley. Find him at

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