FIONA HALLIDAY: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway



Plate of Cookies





Blogger error alert!!!!

This post was supposed to go live NEXT SATURDAY! But for some reason (we all know the reason – Vivian is kind of distracted because she has her book launch at Barnes and Noble this morning) it posted today, instead of Laura Renauld’s WWFC post. So some of what I say in the post refers to NEXT WEEK. Please forgive me, everyone…especially Laura and Fiona! What follows is what should have made sense if this was posted on January 25…

You may be thinking this is Fiona Halliday week over here at Picture Books Help Kids Soar. Tuesday we had a Happy Book Birthday celebration for her new picture book, NUMENIA AND THE HURRICANE, which just launched from Page Street Kids. Yesterday, we featured that beautiful book for Perfect Picture Book Friday. And today, I’m thrilled to welcome Fiona as our guest for Will Write for Cookies. She’s one of my Storm Literary Agency sisters…and I was fortunate to meet her in person at the Bologna Book Fair last year. She is a brilliant author/illustrator – and a really lovely lady – and here are a few words about her…in her own words:

Since childhood I always wanted to be a writer, but I had no real aspirations to be an illustrator. (My family are all very artistic.) I have a degree in English Literature from Edinburgh University, 2004. In 2012, I moved to Austria without being able to speak a word of German. It was then I started dabbling with illustration, I think perhaps out of frustration at not being able to communicate very well! I was always a very keen photographer, but it is quite limiting compared to illustration.

Since then I haven’t really looked back. I signed with Essie White of Storm Literary Agency in 2016. I didn’t sign my first PB deal until summer of 2018, but now I have ‘Numenia and the Hurricane,’ to be followed in May 2020 by ‘Hello Little One,’ written by Zeena Pliska, I illustrated, and then in 2021 comes ‘The Storm Goose’ (written and illustrated by myself), all with Page Street Kids.

ME: And now, my friends, you can see why I just had to make this FIONA HALLIDAY week! Welcome, Fiona…it’s so lovely to have you stop by to chat and I know everyone is waiting to hear a bit about your journey, so let’s get started.

Who were your favourite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

FIONA: My favourite illustrator when I was small was Errol Le Cain, because he illustrated ‘Hiawatha’s Childhood’ (by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I think this version is out of print?) My sister and I were entranced by his depictions of the forests, the animals, the simmering sunsets and old Nokomis. He had a very dark, luminous palate and his images crackled with a lovely dark energy.

ME: What do you now know that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

FIONA: Haha, that question could produce a book in itself! I wish I had known just how much dedication and patience it requires to produce a picture book, and how much easier and nicer the journey is when you surround yourself with others who understand and love the craft.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?

FIONA: Honestly, I will write anywhere I can. My phone is cluttered with notes written whilst I am at work, on the train, sitting on the couch… I find my phone better than scraps of paper which tend to get lost. I dream of a tranquil, light-flooded studio, but it is still a building site!


ME When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

FIONA: I tend to write/illustrate in the afternoons simply because I work in the mornings. Depending on whether I’m working to a deadline I will often work evenings as well.

ME: Why do you write for children?

FIONA: his may sound deeply selfish, but honestly, firstly, I write/illustrate for myself. The idea that I could enchant a little stranger with my words and images is so lovely, but as a debuter, that feels somehow unreal to me still! I must admit I feel a strong sense of loyalty to and love for the characters I create. They feel real to me.

ME: Fiona, is there anything else you’d like to share – advice for aspiring writers and illustrators, perhaps.

FIONA: The most valuable thing I have learned in the last few years is that the Kidlit Community is utterly amazing and if you are a budding writer, the best thing you can do is to jump in and join it – there are hundreds of doors through which you can go: SCBWI, online courses like 12×12, Kidlit 411, local and online writing and critique groups, mentorships of every kind to help you hone your craft… they and the people they contain are invaluable. Writing can be lonely, rejections are tough, the waiting is excruciating, but the landscape of Kidlit is enchanting and full of friends and magic. I live in the depths of Upper Austria but I feel like in the KidLit community I have my own personal Hogwarts.

This is wonderful, Fiona! Thank you so much. And I know there is a bit more to this post…a special recipe that pairs beautifully with your book…so take it away, my friend!

FIONA: This is a recipe for Birsay Biscuits made from Beremeal. Beremeal is the ancient flour (which possibly predates the Vikings) used to make the famous Orkney Bere bannocks, a traditional flat bread (eaten normally with cheese ) which my mother loved. You may want to increase the amount of sugar in this recipe!!


8 oz. Plain Wholemeal (you can use more Beremeal and less Wholemeal)
6 oz. Sultanas
8 oz. butter/marg
6. Oz sugar
8 oz. Beremeal
2 eggs
2 teasp. baking powder


Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, slowly add dry ingredients and sultanas. Roll out and cut out on floured board. Place on greased tray and bake at 175 degrees celsius for 15 mins.

Thank you again, Fiona. I would love to try these biscuits. It’s a very simple recipe…something my daughter-in-law would love for my granddaughter…I’m in Chicago right now with them…maybe we will give it a whirl. (Blogger error alert…I am not in Chicago right now…I will be there next week!)

To learn more about Fiona:

Twitter: @Fdhalliday

And please don’t forget to leave a comment and share this post on social media for more chances to win a copy of this amazing book!

Thank you for spending your precious time with us, my friends. As I mentioned,  I am in Chicago right now…last night was the Author Night event at my granddaughter’s school…and now I’ll be heading out to the Chicagoland suburbs for a visit with my sister, some school programs, and a bookstore event at Andersons in Naperville…looking forward to seeing lots of Chicagoland kidlit friends. (Blogger error alert! No, I am not in Chicago yet…I fly out on Sunday, January 19)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. On Sunday (Blogger Error Alert! The Grammys are NEXT Sunday, January 26 – but there’s no error about Ella being the best jazz singer around!) it’s the GRAMMYS…did you know that Ella Fitzgerald won TWO Grammys the very first year they were awarded, in 1959? What an amazing singer she was.


18 thoughts on “FIONA HALLIDAY: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

  1. Congratulations, Fiona! Your illustrations are beautiful and the book sounds lovely. I can’t wait to read it and try the recipe! Sharing on pinterest and twitter.


  2. Oh, Fiona, your illustrations are beautiful. I love your book trailer! You have amazing talent. Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it. And Vivian, thank your for introducing me to this author/illustrator and her gorgeous book and for sharing the video of Ella Fitzgerald singing!


  3. Such a beautiful book! And such an enchanting sentiment, that the KidLit community is like Hogwarts. As a KidLit reader, that is how it feels–so glad to know that is how welcoming it has been to a new writer.


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