Today With Wendy White

Introducing the authors who will be at the Tenby Book Fair,, the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival .  I’m looking forward to having many more such chats over the next couple of weeks. 

So far I’ve cross-examined interviewed Rebecca Bryn:, Thorne Moore: , Matt Johnson: , Christoph Fischer: , Sally Spedding:, Wendy Steele: ,Kathy MIles: , Carol Lovekin:, Colin R Parsons: , Lisa Shambrook:  ,Alex Martin: ,  Judith Arnopp: , Sharon Tregenza:    Juliet Greenwood: , Nigel Williams: , Julie McGowan: , John Nicholl:   and Tony Riches:  And thanks to Thorne Moore for interviewing me:  Over the next week or two I’ll be introducing the rest of the authors. I’ll also be showcasing the publishers who will be in attendance and who will be giving short talks and may be able to give advice to would-be authors: ,   and ,

There may also be a short chat with John and Fiona of who, as usual, will be filming the event.

Today  I introduce Wendy White

wendy white


Hi, Wendy, good to be chatting with you today.

 It’s great to be here, Judith

When did you start writing?

I joined a writing class run by Swansea University around ten years ago when my youngest child started secondary school. I was working as a supply teacher and had some time on my hands – and I was probably feeling a little redundant in the ‘mothering’ department. I’d enjoyed writing as a child, filling notebook after notebook with my stories, and even as an adult I always had plenty of make-believe rolling around in my head. But once I was grown up I never seemed to find the time to write anything down. Joining the class, and the homework we were set, gave me a reason to write, and I soon found I loved it. I still use some of the pieces I wrote back then as a basis for my writing now. And I made some wonderful writer friends too.


What genre of books do you write?

I’ve written two children’s books that are published by Pont at Gomer Press – ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’

Wendy hasn’t said much about her books so I’ve added the blurb here:

Life is full of surprises when you’re five years old. Betsi Wyn is trying out lots of things – school dinners, concerts, pirate parties and all for the very first time. That’s when it’s good to have friends. Like Emyr Rhys, who knows about Welsh cakes and clog dancing. And Mam-gu …who knows about everything else! This delightful collection of stories about Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys by new author Wendy White explores the world of early childhood. Emyr Rhys’s Welsh cake recipe and Betsi Wyn’s version of Hen Fenyw Fach Cydweli add to the fun in this captivating book for parents and children.

and ‘Three Cheers for Wales’

 And the blurb is here:

Emyr Rhys and Betsi Wyn are back! Between cheering for Wales and cheering up Da-cu, days out with Mam-gu and dressing up like a frog, they have plenty to keep them busy and amused! Exciting times – and funny moments – fill these five new stories for young readers by award-winning author, Wendy White, with humorous illustrations by Helen Flook.

 What age group are the books aimed at?

My books are aimed at 4-8 year-olds and each one has five contemporary tales about friends Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys. Their grandparents feature strongly too. They’re written in English with a sprinkling of Welsh words and have a very strong Welsh flavour. There are stories about school Eisteddfods, a trip to Tenby on the train with Mam-gu, watching Wales play rugby in Cardiff and helping Da-cu make Welsh cakes – all with a liberal dollop of humour.

 Who illustrates the books for you?

They’re illustrated by a wonderful artist, Helen Flook from North Wales.

Any more books on the horizon, Wendy?

I have a third book due out early next year.

What drew you to this genre?

Having been a primary school teacher I guess it was natural that I’d lean towards writing for children. In fact, every job I’ve ever done has been child-related, from my first Saturday job on a market stall selling toys, to a stint working in Mothercare and then at my local children’s library. I’ve been a child-minder too in between teaching jobs. I still enjoy finger painting and making things out of Play-Doh. Perhaps I’ve never really grown up.

What process did you go through to get published?

The first story I sent to Pont Books was one I’d written for my creative writing class.  It was a humorous (or so I hoped) story about a child having dinner in school for the first time. It didn’t meet with success. I’d completely ignored the golden advice that recommends we check what publishers actually publish before sending manuscripts off to them. Pont Books publish stories with a Welsh dimension that celebrate the culture of our country, and my story didn’t have that. Fortunately the editor was kind and told me she enjoyed my writing style, but that she couldn’t accept it as it lacked the Welsh element they were looking for. She encouraged me to rework it and send it to her again. And then, although I appreciated her praise, I did the other thing that an aspiring author really shouldn’t do – I ignored the editor’s advice, put my story away in a drawer and forgot about it. It took me five years to realise that I could rewrite my story giving it a Welsh flavour – quite literally as it was a tale about food.

By the time I sent off the revised version, there was a new editor in place. Thankfully she too liked my style. However it still wasn’t plain sailing. I’d imagined that what I’d written would become a picture book but didn’t realise that a publisher was unlikely to pay out for a fully illustrated book by a first-time author. While the editor liked my story, she said she needed another four to make a ‘chapter’ book. Fortunately by that time I had plenty more ideas for my characters, Betsi Wyn and Emyr Rhys, and was able to send them to her. The final surprise for me was when my editor told me the book would take two years to be published. So in total I’d spent seven years, off and on, getting ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’ out there. By contrast, my second book was written and published in one year.

How do you market your books?

A very good question. When I was writing my first book, I didn’t give a thought to how I would actually sell it – I naively thought the publisher would take care of all that. While I do get a lot of support from the lovely marketing people at Pont who supply me with posters, banners, flyers etc., I quickly discovered that books don’t sell themselves – well, mine don’t anyway! I was fortunate that I had coverage in the local press when my first book came out, and again when it won a Welsh book award, the Tir nan ’Og, in 2014. I visit schools and libraries and arrange book-signings at WHSmiths, Waterstones and indie bookshops around Wales. And this year I’m going to be involved in some book fairs – Tenby is the first, and I’m really looking forward to it. (and we’ll be happy to see Wendy with us!)

Although in the beginning I was very nervous about talking to people about my books, I now really enjoy doing book-related events. Meeting lots of different people and chatting about writing is, for me, one of the perks of being an author. And it’s very rewarding when a child tells you how much they’ve enjoyed your book.

What else have you written?

Alongside my children’s books I’ve written some short stories which have been included in the anthologies of my wonderfully supportive and talented writers’ group, Llanelli Writers’ Circle. I’ve been lucky enough to have a story short-listed for the Colm Tóibín International Award and to also have the start of my young adult manuscript highly commended in the Winchester Writers’ Festival competition this year. I occasionally write poems and a few years ago won Swansea and District Writers’ Group’s first national poetry competition.

I’m also working on a novel for adults about what happens when a five-year-old boy is returned to the care of his drug-addicted teenage mother – a bit of a departure for me from my cheerful children’s stories.

Who are your favourite authors and what are you reading at the moment?

Jo Verity’s ‘Left and Leaving’ which I’m thoroughly enjoying. Before starting that I read Carol Lovekin’s ‘Ghostbird’ which is wonderful and really hard to put down. I love reading and enjoy a range of genres. I read lots of children’s and young adult books, too. Authors I keep returning to are Emma Donoghue, Ian Rankin, Colm Tóibín, Roddy Doyle, Sally Spedding, Belinda Bauer – the list could go on. I was recently at the Llandeilo Book Fair and bought novels by Kate Glanville, Sharon Tregenza and John Thompson and thoroughly enjoyed them all. If I could spend all of my spare cash on books and my whole day reading, I would!

Where can we buy your books?

‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’ and ‘Three Cheers for Wales’, costing £4.99 each, are stocked in most branches of WHSmith and Waterstones in Wales, and in lots of Welsh independent book stores too. Online they’re available from Amazon and Gomer Press directly. And, of course, I’ll be selling them at Tenby Book Fair on Saturday, 24 September.

Find Wendy here: 




 Buying links:

Welsh Cakes and Custard

 Three Cheers for Wales:

 Amazon .com:

 Welsh Cakes and Custard:

 Three Cheers for Wales:




17 thoughts on “Today With Wendy White

  1. Pingback: Welsh Wednesdays: Today With Wendy White | Judith Barrow | writerchristophfischer

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