Why did you decide to study at Swansea?

I've always liked Swansea. I'd spent lots of time working in the theatre there and I loved the area. I was also really drawn to the MA course because there was such a wide range of forms studied. I knew I'd be able to try my hand at screenwriting and fiction, poetry and plays. At that time, I had no idea which area of writing I would choose to specialise in, so it suited me because of its variety.

What is your favourite memory of your time at Swansea?

Honestly, the library. Once I found my way around, I practically decided to live in it. I also formed some really good friendships at an age where I thought I'd already made all my friends. Writers are the best sort of people.

Eloise acting with the wonderful Hijinx Theatre.

Before becoming a children’s author, you worked as a touring actor and theatre practitioner. What made you change directions?

Lots of reasons, but mostly because I felt it was time to try using my own words and voice. I spent over a decade using other people's words to tell stories and it was time to tell my own.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I'd say procrastination is my biggest writing ritual! I'm an expert at it.  Other than that, not really. I like to have a notebook nearby so I can make scrappy notes as I go. I also find it almost impossible to write in the mornings. It made me feel lazy at first until I realised I'm just not a morning person. By lunchtime I begin to feel creative. I think you have to listen to yourself and find your own best path.

Who has inspired you throughout your career journey?

Definitely Stevie Davies. She was the head of our course (it probably has a much more grand title!) and I thought she was wonderful. I still keep in touch with her now periodically. She is such a source of inspiration to me.

My editor at Firefly Press, Janet Thomas, has been wonderful and has guided me from first draft rubbish, through to finished material. She has the patience of a saint! 

I've made so many connections with other writers over the past ten years. They are always helpful and supportive and ready to pick you up when you hit a tough point. This is a tough industry, and you need those friendships. Also, authors through their books, of course. Thousands and thousands of authors. Too many to name!

In 2019, you were named the first Children’s Laureate Wales. How did this come about, and how did you feel when it was announced that the role would be yours?

Literature Wales put out a call for writers who would be interested in the role. I applied with no expectation at all of being given the post. I knew children's literature was something I felt passionately about, and I'd been working with young writers for years.

I thought I'd express an interest in case somewhere down the line I'd be considered for the position. When they called to tell me they wanted me to be the first Children's Laureate Wales I was speechless, then speech-full and gabbling, then I'm not ashamed to say, I cried. It's such an honour and a privilege. These kinds of things only happen once in a lifetime, and I'm thrilled to have been chosen.

What exactly does an average day in your life include? 

I don't really have an average day. Every day works out differently which is one of the things I love about my life. Today I have a video call with a school, an interview, a meeting, two hours of writing blocked in, postcards to sign for bookshops and schools, letters from children to reply to, two children's stories to read and an online campaign on reading for pleasure to set up. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?!

Has the role changed your attitude to writing at all?

At first I could feel the responsibility of the role weighing heavily on my writing. There's a different kind of expectation now, I suppose. But I quickly realised that I needed to separate the two things. When I write - I'm a writer. The same as any other writer. I need to shut everything else off when I do that and write with truth.

Eloise Williams giving a talk to some primary school children, as part of her role as Children's Laureate Wales.

The Children's Laureate Wales role is, of course, a great honour, but I imagine that it can be difficult to write alongside commitments of the two-year role. How do you manage this?

I just work really hard and put in long hours. I have to write. It's essential for me, so I fit it in as and when I can. I come from a working-class family, so my work ethic is strong. Some days there has been quite a bit of juggling, but I'm not about to hold a pity party for one - I just crack on with it. Writing is glorious and wonderful and brilliant, but it is also a job and I have to turn up for work.

"I want to champion young people, stories by them and for them."

What are your plans and hopes for the role?

To inspire young people from Wales to use their own voices, read for pleasure and write in their own way. I want to do my bit to ensure that all children from Wales feel that they are part of the literary landscape. All of us are made of stories and we need to encourage a wider range of voices from Wales. I want to champion young people, stories by them and for them.

Do you have any advice for budding young authors?

Just keep writing. Do it your own way. Listen to advice, but only take what serves you. Don't write what you think people will like - write what you need to say. Don't worry about grammar and spelling - imagination is the most important ingredient.

What’s next for you, and what should be looking out for?

As a writer, I'm working on a few writing projects at the moment, but not really settling on one specifically. It's a lovely stage of playing about and making lots of mistakes.

The Children's Laureate role has lots of different projects lined up. Keep an eye on the Literature Wales website for those.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The more people become involved in the role of the Children's Laureate Wales, the more we will lift our children up and shine a spotlight on how brilliant they are. It would be lovely if you could get involved!