Saturday, 1 March 2014

Introducing... Michelle Robinson

Hello, I'm children's author Michelle Robinson. Thank you for welcoming me into the Picture Book Den! I've been reading the blog for a long time, so I feel very honoured to find myself ‘on the inside’. I thought my first post ought to be an introduction - after all, contrary to the belief of anyone who asks me what I do for a living, there’s absolutely no evidence that I am indeed  ‘the next JK Rowling’, so you probably won’t have heard of me. Yet. 

My first picture book came out in 2012, I’ve now got ten on the shelves, another ten in production, many more doing the rounds and a squillion duff ones cluttering up my desktop. Maybe I’m not the next JKR, but I'll happily settle for The First Me.

FACTS: I love picture books and am woefully short on shelf space.

I used to be an advertising concept bod and copywriter. I wrote radio ads for a long time, so setting up ideas and resolving them quickly - as well as reading them aloud - set me up well for writing picture books. 

I met fellow Picture Book Denner, Malachy Doyle on an Arvon course that he tutored some years ago. It was through his help and guidance that I found my agent and got published. Malachy will be on my Christmas list forever.

When writing, I try to choose the simplest words and use as few as possible. I chuck in the odd big word as I don’t believe in talking down to children. Books are a great place to learn new words. (As a child, I adored reading the dictionary. Still do.)

I got majorly into reading when I moved schools aged five, spotted a girl with her head in a Famous Five book and thought 'That looks fun'. She became my best friend and I spent all my pocket money on second hand Blytons.



I always dreamed of becoming a children’s author. My dad told me it didn’t matter that we weren’t rich; I could achieve anything I wanted if I worked hard enough. I believed him; I believed in myself. I worked hard and my dream came true. I can’t tell you how incredible that feels. Now I give my own children the same advice my dad gave me - and I have my very own books to back it up.

I have two children, Arthur (four) and Heidi (two). They take up most of my time, which is magic - but I do appreciate the two mornings a week when they're at nursery and I can write (and iron, vacuum, bake, eat all the baking, etc.).

I'm Patron Of Reading for my local first school. It's brilliant. I get to spend time with wonderful kids and introduce them to brilliant books they might not otherwise encounter. 

My pet publishing hate is people being secretive about the road to publishing. There's always space on the shelves for more great books, and children deserve quality. I'm always happy to share any 'wisdom', hence my website features a regular-ish advice section called Pencil Tips.

I like cake a little bit too much.

Finally - violins at the ready - I'm writing this from a hospital bed. I'm currently getting hardcore drugs and custard free on the NHS, and attempting to write a first draft of a children's novel while I'm bed bound. It's not going terribly well. I blame the high temperature.

I'm really looking forward to contributing to the Den and getting to know you all a little better. 
With warmest wishes (currently about 38°)
Michelle Robinson

For more on Michelle Robinson, including writing advice, colouring sheets and free audio games to accompany her picture books, visit her website

18 comments:

  1. Welcome to the Picture Book Den, Michelle - and get well soon!

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  2. WELCOME, Michelle! It's very clear that we're going to have fun as well as great experience generously shared from your blogs. I'm looking forward to more! And your children look inspirational! Lovely.

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  3. Welcome, Michelle! We're very happy to have you :) The Pencil Tips look great and I love the video on your website. Get well soon!

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  4. Great to have you on board, Michelle (and thanks for the thanks). I just knew you were a natural picture book writer from your response to the very first exercise I gave you - funny, quirky, speedy, original, concise... I look forward to your blogs and your books. And to you getting 100% better.

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  5. Thanks, Pippa and Abie! And Malachy, I love the 100% better thing. It's simultaneously the most frustrating and the most exciting thing about, writing, I think. Annoying when you look at the stuff you've written and knowing you can do better - thrilling wondering what's still ahead. (Hopefully 'the next Gruffalo', eh?)

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    1. Ah! I actually meant better in terms of illness, Michelle. Yes, we're all striving to make whatever we're currently working on the best thing we've ever written - but I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to tell you to improve! I may have done so at Arvon, but you're on your own now, girl!

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    2. Chortle - typical perfectionist me, reading it that way! I will get 100% better. Much better today than yesterday. Upwards!

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  6. I'm looking forward to benefiting from your infectious enthusiasm (hope you're not infectious now, by the way!). You are a 'do-er', that's clear. Recommend everyone go over to Michelle's website as a great example to follow.

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  7. Welcome, Michelle. You IRON? Get well soon and happy writing (and playing with the children). All the best, Clare.

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  8. I sometimes iron, Clare. Other times I opt for that lived-in look for the entire family. Life's too short.

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  9. Please don't iron, it makes you super human! Though I hope your super human abilities mean you'll get better soon. Do your children wear those outfits when they visit you in hospital?! So utterly cute!
    By the way, I adore your website, pencil tips and videos. Welcome to the Picture Book Den (and no initiation horrors!).

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    1. Thanks, Paeony! I daren't let the kids visit me here, they'll get ideas. Had to spend a morning with two doctors hitting me with reflex hammers. Imagine that replayed at home - no thanks. Glad you liked my website! Thanks for looking x

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  10. Get well soon, but don't get too much better at picture books ;-) The last thing we need is more competition and you're quite good enough as it is. . ;-p

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    1. I always think that every time I see some other blasted good book by some other blasted picture book author. DARN YOU ALL! Then I realise how great it is for kids to have good books around, and how competitive I am - and it's all good! Keeps us all on our toes, eh?! ;)

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  11. Big fan of DingDong Gorilla - but that's because it's the only one of your books my library has. Sorry to hear you're not well - hope that changes fast.

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    1. Oh, Julie, that's nice to hear. Thanks! Where is your library?

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