We spoke to Gillian Belchetz who completed the Writing for Children 10-week course last year, to understand what she learnt from the course and has been up to since.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am from Lancaster but have lived in Leeds for 40 yrs. I was a nurse for 37 years but also love writing, so undertook and MA in Writing for Performance and Publication at Leeds Uni as a mature student. My first book, ‘A Game of Consequences’ was published in 2015 by Fisher King Publishing, and raised money for The Alzheimers. In lockdown, and inspired by my grandchildren, I started writing for children and my first kids book was published at the end of 2021. I volunteer one day a week at a homeless charity in Leeds, St George’s Crypt, and wanted to write something that was both engaging and would raise the issue of homelessness with children. I have sold almost 1000 copies and raised over £3,500 for St Georges. Supporters have bought 350 of these books to be donated to local schools, and this year I will be visiting schools, giving them copies of the book, doing a reading and talking to the children. I love walking our dog Winnie, and am learning to play bridge – badly!
Why did you choose to take this course at City?
The Writing for Children course was well structured and specifically aimed at learning the craft of writing for children, which is similar to writing for adults, but also different.
What did you learn on the course?
Each week introduced a different aspect of writing so that we discussed how to open a book, plot, character, endings, editing etc. It was thorough and a lot was crammed into ten weeks. The different requirements for picture books up to Teen literature. Brilliant.
How did you find the virtual classes?
Excellent. A great mix of information delivery and participation.
What are the key things you have taken away from the course?
Great examples of books for different age groups were used which I find a useful reference. Writing exercises to inspire and motivate. Information on structure and how to keep a child’s attention.
What have you achieved since completion?
I wrote and had published ‘Clara’s Geni-Ous Plan – To help a lady who is homeless,’ and experienced working with an illustrator for the first time.
I liaised with Booths Supermarkets, (Waitrose of the North) who have been selling it and donating their profits to the homeless charity I am supporting. It has been a roller coaster and a real thrill to see it on a supermarket shelf. You can order the book now through this online form.