New Author – Welcome to Becky Stretton!


We are so thrilled to welcome Becky Stretton as one of our newest authors here at CWLA. We asked Becky a few questions to learn a little more about her writing and inspiration.


How long have you been writing children’s stories?

Ooh, I started writing when my daughter was tiny, so about seven years ago; I think I was so immersed in the wonderful world of picture books with having a newborn that I was completely inspired to have a go myself. My earliest attempts are a little cringey now, but I think I got serious when I enrolled on some fab writing courses and learned some actual picture book writing skills. Then I delved into chapter books not long afterwards, and that was a whole different ball game!


How do you think your teaching work has influenced the way you write?

Through my experiences with children – through teaching and in the other roles I’ve had – I’ve learnt one of the best ways to connect with children is with humour and fun. I think that applies in the classroom as a teacher, but also in stories as a writer.


What inspired you to become a Children’s Author?

As an English teacher, I’ve always loved children’s books and seen the power they have to inspire children, and to shape their world and understanding of it. Then, since having my own children, there hasn’t been a day in the last 7 years I haven’t read at least one story to someone, and I started to see picture book ideas everywhere – in the funny things my kids said, their interests, the places we visited, etcetera. I think the only thing I haven’t been able to spin into some sort of story was my then 3-year-old daughter’s fascination with a set of old curtain hooks. Every day for weeks she played with those things as well! I’ve failed a little here, I think.


Which writing course do you think has most helped you develop your writing?

This is a crazy-tough question! I’ve taken so many wonderful, incredibly inspiring writing courses and I am bound to leave someone out here who definitely deserves a mention, so a thousand apologies in advance. Clare Helen Welsh’s picture course through Write Mentor was the first writing course I ever took and was fabulous! Plus, I’m still in touch with some of the loveliest critique partners I met on this one. For chapter books, it has to be Amy Sparkes’ chapter book weekend. This inspired me to make the leap from picture books to chapter books.


What advice would you give to unpublished authors on how to attract an agent?

Write stories you’re passionate about as this will come through in anything you submit to an agent. Also, keep going! Write, write write, but find some wonderful fellow writers to swap your stories with. I’ve been lucky enough to have found some truly fantastic critique partners within different writing communities – especially Write Mentor and The Golden Egg Academy – and their advice and support has made all the difference to my stories, helping shape them into the best possible versions before I submitted them to agents.


Are there any books that influence your writing?

I find Save the Cat really helpful for plotting out my chapter book stories and always start with their 15-step guide. I love writing humour (or trying to, anyway), so before I put pen to paper (fingers to laptop? Sounds a little odd), I’ll often re-read bits and pieces from my favourite funny books to get me into a good frame of mind. My faves are Sam Copeland’s Charlie Changes into a Chicken, Nadia Shireen’s Grimwood and Hannah Moffat’s Small! – all absolutely bonkers and just so funny! The book-envy is high with these ones.


Tell us about your writing routine. Where, when and how do you like to write?

Ha! I have notebooks all over my house and just jot things down in between building sofa-cushion dens and making beans on toast. Then, whenever the planets align in a very specific way and I get some child-free writing time, I have a bash at pulling my notes into some sort of story. It’s a slooooow process sometimes. I’m not sure this is the most inspiring answer!


Are there any exciting projects you’re working on at the moment?

I’m always working on something, even if it’s just mulling through ideas in my head! I have several ideas for different genres I’m working through at the moment, one is inspired by my little lad, who’s just learned to almost-cartwheel recently. Well done, little dude!


Caroline Wakeman Literary Agency focuses on picture and early chapter books. Based in London and New York City, we have a team of literary agents specializing in children’s books and young fiction. Our goal is to create engaging stories for young readers.