‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar

‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar

About Siobhán

Hello! I’m Siobhán O’Brien Holmes and I’m fairly certain I’m the only person in the world with that name so actually I’m the Siobhán O’Brien Holmes. I’m a trained fiction editor and spend my life reading children’s books, watching scary films and drinking unicorn gin. I live in Surrey, England, with my graphic designer husband and four-year-old son who wants to be a Pokémon when he grows up. 

I’m a huge TV and film fan and I particularly love House, The West Wing, Saved by the Bell, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Inside Number 9, The League of Gentlemen, The Mighty Boosh, I May Destroy You, Great British Bake Off, Inspector Morse, Gilmore Girls, Toy Story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Freaks and Geeks, The Simpsons, Only Fools and Horses, Ackley Bridge, Moana, Lady and the Tramp, Return to Oz, Eerie Indiana, Tiny Pretty Things, The Twilight ZonePulp Fiction, The Shining, The Truman Show, The Blair Witch Project, Laurel and Hardy, It Follows, Julie and Julia, Get Out, Rosemary’s Baby, The Wizard of Oz, Babes in Toyland and so many more. Expect to see references to some / many / all of these in my edits.

My training and background

I’m a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, The British Fantasy Society, The British Science Fiction Association, Sisters in Crime, EFA, ACES and The Horror Writers Association. I have an MA in Novel Writing from Middlesex University and an MA in Children’s Literature from Roehampton University (Jacqueline Wilson shook my hand at my graduation ceremony!). I was a juror on the 2020 British Fantasy Awards horror panel and I review YA for the British Fantasy Society. I’m on the Golden Egg Academy’s selective 12-month ‘Writing for Children and Young Adults’ programme where I’m working on my own middle grade novel about an amateur astronomer and her ghost-hunting parents.

I’m a Professional-level member of the CIEP, the UK’s professional body for editors, for which I had to provide evidence of my editing experience and extensive training. Membership means I must adhere to the CIEP’s strict code of practice and commit to ongoing professional development.

I had a few different jobs before becoming an editor. First I was a bookshop assistant, then a trainee primary school teacher, then a zoo keeper. I eventually found my way into publishing at 24 as a magazine features writer, interviewing the likes of John Hurt, Emilia Fox and Beverley Knight, before becoming online editor of Virgin Media Shorts, the UK’s largest short film competition. Next I went freelance, writing and editing for a whole mix of clients including Mazda, Cineworld, BP, CIMA, ACCA, Mizz Magazine, Your Cat, EasyHotel, Eurogamer, Commonwealth Games 2014, Middlesex University and King’s College University.

Children’s book fangirl

Since training to become a fiction editor, I’ve curated a middle grade fantasy writing competition alongside publishing legends and have joined the reader list at Faber Children’s. I’ve edited and critiqued books about dragons, unicorns, witches, Santa, human-animal hybrids, hypnotists, radioactive fish and time travellers and I write my own fiction whenever I have the chance.

I adore children’s books for the same reasons you love writing them. They’re life-changing and magical and can mean so much to the young people who read them. My favourite children’s and YA authors are Paula Danziger, Gary Schmidt, Ed Gorey, Holly Black, Caroline B. Cooney, Emily Carroll, Alex Bell, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Sue Townsend, Curtis Sittenfeld, Roald Dahl, R.L. Stine, Enid Blyton, Mo Willems and Louise O’Neill. I bet you’ll end up on that list some day! So, shall we get started?

Education
  • BA Philosophy — Nottingham University
  • MA Children’s Literature — Roehampton University
  • MA Novel Writing — Middlesex University
Awards
  • The Cotton Prize for Children’s Literature — Roehampton University
Training 
  • Industry-led one year Writing for Children and Young Adults course – Golden Egg Academy
  • Basic editing test (pass) – CIEP
  • Editing Fiction — CIEP
  • Editing with Word — CIEP
  • Inside Bloomsbury Publishing for Editors — CIEP
  • Editing Fiction — Publishing Training Centre
  • Essential Grammar — Publishing Training Centre
  • Publishing Essentials complete e-learning package — Publishing Training Centre
  • ACES Certificate in Editing — ACES/Poynter University
  • Introduction to Children’s Literature – Editorial Freelancers Association
  • Intermediate Developmental Editing – Editorial Freelancers Association
  • Book Mapping for Developmental Editing – Editorial Freelancers Association
  • The DE Detective: Using sentence level manuscript clues to track down developmental problems – Editorial Freelancers Association
  • Copy Editing Live – Editors Canada
  • Developmental Editing – Editors Canada
  • Manuscript Evaluation – Editors Canada
  • Getting your self-published client to a finished product – Editors Canada
  • Developmental Editing: Fiction Theory — Liminal Pages
  • Developmental Editing: In Practice — Liminal Pages
  • Editing for Young Readers — Copyediting (now ACES)
  • Copyediting and line editing for fiction – Club Ed
  • Developmental Editing of Mysteries – Club Ed
  • Evolution of a Novel – Club Ed
  • Manuscript Evaluation and Assessment – Club Ed
  • Writing Horror for Young Audiences with R.L. Stine — Masterclass
  • Writing for Young Adults with Judy Blume — Masterclass
  • Children’s Story Writing Diploma — New Skills Academy
  • Creative Writing: Horror — John Academy
  • Getting Started on Your Children’s Book with Laura Dockrill and Alex T Smith — Guardian Masterclass

About Siobhán

Hello! I’m Siobhán O’Brien Holmes and I’m fairly certain I’m the only person in the world with that name so actually I’m the Siobhán O’Brien Holmes. I’m a trained fiction editor and spend my life reading children’s books, watching scary films and drinking unicorn gin. I live in Surrey, England, with my graphic designer husband and four-year-old son who wants to be a Pokemon when he grows up. 

Developmental editor Siobhan with her son, Caeden

I’m a huge TV and film fan and I particularly love House, The West Wing, Saved by the Bell, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Inside Number 9, The League of Gentlemen, The Mighty Boosh, I May Destroy You, Great British Bake Off, Inspector Morse, Gilmore Girls, Toy Story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Freaks and Geeks, The Simpsons, Only Fools and Horses, Ackley Bridge, Moana, Lady and the Tramp, Return to Oz, Eerie Indiana, Tiny Pretty Things, The Twilight ZonePulp Fiction, The Shining, The Truman Show, The Blair Witch Project, Laurel and Hardy, It Follows, Julie and Julia, Get Out, Rosemary’s Baby, The Wizard of Oz, Babes in Toyland and so many more. Expect to see references to some / many / all of these in my edits.

My training and background

I’m a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, The British Fantasy Society, The British Science Fiction Association, Sisters in Crime, EFA, ACES and The Horror Writers Association. I have an MA in Novel Writing from Middlesex University and an MA in Children’s Literature from Roehampton University (Jacqueline Wilson shook my hand at my graduation ceremony!). I was a juror on the 2020 British Fantasy Awards horror panel and I review YA for the British Fantasy Society. I’m on the Golden Egg Academy’s selective 12-month ‘Writing for Children and Young Adults’ programme where I’m working on my own middle grade novel about an amateur astronomer and her ghost-hunting parents.

I’m a Professional-level member of the CIEP, the UK’s professional body for editors, for which I had to provide evidence of my editing experience and extensive training. Membership means I must adhere to the CIEP’s strict code of practice and commit to ongoing professional development.

I had a few different jobs before becoming an editor. First I was a bookshop assistant, then a trainee primary school teacher, then a zoo keeper. I eventually found my way into publishing at 24 as a magazine features writer, interviewing the likes of John Hurt, Emilia Fox and Beverley Knight, before becoming online editor of Virgin Media Shorts, the UK’s largest short film competition. Next I went freelance, writing and editing for a whole mix of clients including Mazda, Cineworld, BP, CIMA, ACCA, Mizz Magazine, Your Cat, EasyHotel, Eurogamer, Commonwealth Games 2014, Middlesex University and King’s College University.

Children’s book fangirl

Since training to become a fiction editor, I’ve curated a middle grade fantasy writing competition alongside publishing legends and have joined the reader list at Faber Children’s. I’ve edited and critiqued books about dragons, unicorns, Santa, hypnotists and time travellers (to name a few) and I’ve written my own middle grade novel about an amateur astronomer called Leena and her ghost-hunting parents.

I adore children’s books for the same reasons you love writing them. They’re life-changing and magical and can mean so much to the young people that read them. My favourite children’s and YA authors are Paula Danziger, Gary Schmidt, Ed Gorey, Holly Black, Caroline B. Cooney, Emily Carroll, Alex Bell, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Sue Townsend, Curtis Sittenfeld, Roald Dahl, R.L. Stine, Enid Blyton, Mo Willems and Louise O’Neill. I bet you’ll end up on that list some day!

Education
  • BA Philosophy — Nottingham University
  • MA Children’s Literature — Roehampton University
  • MA Novel Writing — Middlesex University
Awards
  • The Cotton Prize for Children’s Literature — Roehampton University
Training (classes, courses and webinars)
  • 12-month Writing for Children and Young Adults course – Golden Egg Academy
  • Editing Fiction CIEP
  • Editing with Word CIEP
  • Inside Bloomsbury Publishing for Editors CIEP
  • Editing Fiction — Publishing Training Centre
  • Essential Grammar — Publishing Training Centre
  • ACES Certificate in Editing — ACES/Poynter University
  • Introduction to Children’s Literature – Editorial Freelancers Association
  • Intermediate Developmental Editing – Editorial Freelancers Association
  • Book Mapping for Developmental Editing – Editorial Freelancers Association
  • The DE Detective: Using sentence level manuscript clues to track down developmental problems – Editorial Freelancers Association
  • Copy Editing Live – Editors Canada
  • Developmental Editing – Editors Canada
  • Manuscript Evaluation – Editors Canada
  • Getting your self-published client to a finished product – Editors Canada
  • Developmental Editing: Fiction Theory — Liminal Pages
  • Developmental Editing: In Practice — Liminal Pages
  • Editing for Young Readers — Copyediting (now ACES)
  • Copyediting and line editing for fiction – Club Ed
  • Developmental Editing of Mysteries – Club Ed
  • Evolution of a Novel – Club Ed
  • Manuscript Evaluation and Assessment – Club Ed
  • Writing Horror for Young Audiences with R.L. Stine — Masterclass
  • Writing for Young Adults with Judy Blume — Masterclass
  • Children’s Story Writing Diploma — New Skills Academy
  • Creative Writing: Horror — John Academy
  • Getting Started on Your Children’s Book with Laura Dockrill and Alex T Smith — Guardian Masterclass
Memberships

Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading
(Professional member)

ACES: The Society for Editing

Editorial Freelancers Association

British Fantasy Society

Horror Writers Association
(Associate member)

SCBWI – Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators