Getting to know Ciera Clayton pt1: An Authors Journey.
Updated: Jan 30, 2021
Diversity, in it's broadest sense, is one of the things I personally love about climbing; and what Ciera has achieved, through her book I Want to Climb like the Animals Do!, is strike a delicate tone of pro-female climbing, delicate enough to never detract or distract from the overall message of the story, which is simply; kids, climbing is awesome and it's there waiting for you, no matter who you are.
Here at my household we are huge fans of Ciera's work, the book, the message, the illustrations, so it's an absolute honour to have had the opportunity to interview Ciera about becoming a children's author and her journey into climbing; as well as asking her to take us on her 'Ultimate Adventure' (which, after knowing Ciera for even just a short while, I'm sure will be pretty intense). Here in part one we will be taking a dive into Ciera's authoring journey, so take a breath (although unless your Wim Hof please exhale as it's a substantial read), and let's jump in.
The whole process of having the idea, to actually holding your book and being able to sell it across the world, but have been an insane experience Ciera, what was it like?
It was difficult, I had to learn how to do everything from scratch. There were a lot of frustrations involved and moments of doubt for sure but the end result has been unreal. I literally did not know anything about creating a children’s book, I don’t have kids of my own, I am not a writer, I am not a business woman or a climbing coach- but I am passionate, dedicated and driven and I had a wonderful support network in my friends and family that continuously encouraged me along the way.
I wanted to use rhyme to ensure the content is engaging to read and that the comparative imagery would allow the content to imprint upon a young audience. It’s one thing writing a few sentences that rhyme, it’s a totally different ball game when they have to rhyme but also make technical sense because every page is about a specific technique. So it was quite limiting in a way but when I wrote something that worked it was such a sense of achievement. I re-wrote the book a lot and I definitely do not envy novelists, that’s for sure.
I was calculated with my choice of words, there is no technical wording in the book, instead I used phrases that will help children remember what to do such as ‘grip like a gibbon’ and ‘focus like a sloth’; meaning the book is perfectly suited for beginner climbers within the directed age group, 4-8 years old and you don’t have to be a climber to understand it- adult or child.
I had a youth development climbing coach and a few other climbing coaches review the text (and imagery), to ensure the elements made sense. Mountaineering Ireland heard about it and were really excited for the book, they loved the first draft- I made a few alterations but to my surprise I seemed to have got it right first time. That in itself was a huge motivation boost.
Then it was time to design the actual illustrations etc. That is when the book actually starts to come to life. Each body position has been specifically selected and drawn to ensure correct posture and technique throughout the pages and the walls of the climbing centre have been constructed with life like climbing routes which you would see in a real climbing centre. I was so conscious that it had to be right, it took hours and hours of effort but I wanted a book that showcased the best of climbing and didn’t in still any bad habits into children. I was making changes to the wording and the images right up to the hours before the book was sent to print. Ask any painter the hardest part of painting and they will tell you its knowing when to stop. But for the book I had a timeline to stick to, it was hard to let go and to think of it as finished, but I have no regrets regarding what the book looks like or the wording.
When I decided to do the Kickstarter Campaign I honestly didn’t think it would take off the way it did, not because I didn’t believe in the book, but because I didn’t think I would have a big enough reach into the public. I just wanted enough funding to help with the cost of self-publishing, my target didn’t really make a dent in that at £300 to be fair but I just wanted the book out there because I really believed in it and if I had to use my savings to get it out there then so be it. Luckily within the first day of the campaign going live I was on over £1000, I couldn’t believe it. The book was listed by Kickstarter as a ‘Project We Love’ and was being really well received by the climbing community.
By the end of the campaign I ha