SCBWI FACES Clare Helen Welsh


SCBWI Faces goes behind the scenes to meet the volunteers who keep our Society ticking. This month Paul Morton chats to Clare Helen Welsh, co-organiser of the SCBWI Picture Book Retreat.

Clare in her 'authoromobile'

Clare is a former primary school teacher, turned children’s writer. She has published over 50 books, including picture books and early readers, and has more in the publishing pipeline. When Clare isn’t writing stories, she is inspiring people to write their own, running events for children and working as a writing tutor for Write Mentor and City Lit.

What do you write?

I write a range of different things, including non-fiction, early readers, chapter books and middle grade, but I am probably best known for my picture books that can be funny, issue-based and sometimes blur the line between fiction and non-fiction.


Wee? It Wasn't Me, published by McMillan

Sunny Side Up, published by Little Tiger

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well as volunteering and writing?

I used to be a primary school teacher, but now my days are filled with book-related business. Writing, critiquing, volunteering and providing courses, workshops and mentoring for writers.


Describe your writing space.

I don’t have an office, but my family are out during the day, so I work on the sofa with a blanket and the dog! I have just invested in an authoromobile for school visits, which is going to double-up as my travelling office – finally a place to call my own!


Writing companion

How long have you been a SCBWI volunteer? 

I volunteered as Celebrations Editor when I first joined SCBWI over ten years ago. I’ve since taken on the role of organising the Picture Book Retreat with Paul Morton. I also co-ordinate picture book things in and around Exeter.


SCBWI Picture Book Retreat 2022

Do you do any other volunteering?

In July of last year I started an initiative called Books That Help –writing reviews and spreading the word about outstanding picture books and their power to support difficult conversations and well-being. You can find out more about that here. I also volunteer for Picture Book Den and blog on all aspects of picture book craft with a team of published writers and illustrators.


What are the advantages of being a volunteer?

It feels great to give back to the community that has given me so much support as an aspiring writer. Plus, volunteering is a super way to immerse yourself in the book world. I count many of the people I’ve met and worked with as friends now, and publishing is much less scary (and more enjoyable!) with like-minded people around you.


Do the boundaries between volunteering get blurred or do you have clearly demarcated writing/volunteering times/space?

There are times when volunteering commitments are more time consuming than others, so it’s quite difficult to give an answer to this. Whether I’m doing paid work or volunteering, I see it all as being ‘a writer.' There are many elements to the job – that’s why I like it!

Favourite children's book?

There are just too many great ones to choose from! An impossible task 🙂


You can find Clare on Twitter, Instagram  or Facebook.


The header image is by Irene Silvino, an illustrator based in London and founder of Editartz. She loves to illustrate people, (especially focusing on their feelings and emotions), nature and animals! Find her at

 All other photos courtesy of Clare Helen Welsh


Paul Morton has been a professional illustrator for over thirty years. He is the author of Bug Belly Babysitting Trouble, the story of a greedy and ingenious frog Bug Belly and his heroic rescue of hundreds of helpless little tadpoles. 


Anne Boyere is the Feature Editor for SCBWI Faces.

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