Claire Polders is a Dutch author of five novels. Her latest, A Whale in Paris, (Atheneum, Simon&Schuster, 2018) is a historical novel for younger readers set in Paris during the Second World War. Her short fiction and nonfiction was published and anthologized in (among others) TriQuarterly, Prairie SchoonerTin House, Electric Literature, Denver Quarterly, and Fiction International. 



I’m a storyteller, an author of tales long and short. I’ve written four novels for adults in Dutch (my mother tongue), co-authored one novel for younger readers with my husband (A Whale in Paris), wrote hundreds of blog posts on traveling and the writing life, and had my short stories, personal essays, and flash fictions published in over fifty literary magazines in print and online.

TriQuarterlyDenver Quarterly, matchbook, Blink Ink, and The Mambo Academy of Kitty Wang nominated my stories for Pushcart Prizes. My writing was twice selected for The Best Microfiction anthology (nominated by The Mambo Academy of Kitty Wang and Moon Park Review), appeared on the Wigleaf Top 50 (originally published in Cheap Pop), and was chosen twice for the National Flash Fiction Anthology. Stories were also nominated multiple times for Best of the Net and The Best Small Fictions anthology.

Recurrent themes in my writing are identity, feminism, social justice, traveling, art, and death. My stories often include absurd or fantastic elements that transform the otherwise realistic settings into strange worlds. You can learn more about my creative process by reading some interviews or by listening to my podcasts (it’s only one at the moment, but I intent to make more). Occasionally, I write reviews for books I love, which makes them more like recommendations. Follow me on Goodreads to see what else I read.

In my short essay “The Writer and her Time,” I explain why I write in English.

In the blog post “What’s in a Name,” you can learn more about the origins of my name.

My work is represented by Marie Lamba.


Born in Gouda (yes, from the cheese), I grew up along a river dike near Rotterdam, seven meters below sea level. I hold a double Master’s Degree in Literature and Philosophy (with honors) from Tilburg University, and I studied a semester at the Sorbonne. I’m married to the American screenwriter and author Daniel Presley, which sometimes makes me feel I married America. In March 2019, after living in Paris for almost 20 years, we sold our belongings and became digital nomads to travel the world. We have no idea where this adventure will take us, and that’s just how we like it. Read my travel blog if you’d like to come on this adventure with us. 

—Editing Services / Manuscript Critique—

Need fresh eyes on your writing? An objective assessment of your manuscript? Help with story structure, pacing, or character development? 

I’m available for big-picture manuscript critiques and for more intense story editing. A critique includes one read-through, a list of weak and strong points, and at least 2,000 words of advice on how to improve the manuscript and make it more marketable. As a story editor, I will additionally make suggestions for revision throughout your manuscript. My notes will address character motivation, character development, plot, story structure, conflict, pacing, dialogue, voice, point of view, plausibility, setting, and thematic coherence. I may also correct grammar and spelling along the way, or comment on your style, but I’m neither a line editor nor a proofreader. 

If you’re unsure whether you want to hire me for an entire novel, you can test out my services by submitting a flash (€25 for <1,000 words) or short prose (€0,05 per word / €50 per hour). I will also give you the names of three literary magazines that may be interested in your stories. We can negotiate a flat fee for longer work.

I provide feedback on novels and memoirs, short stories and personal essays, flash fiction and nonfiction, and genre-bending work. Journalism and poetry are not my strongpoints.

 Contact me for more information. 

—Query Letter Critique—

A query letter is like a first date: You want to make a good first impression. 

Literary agents, publishers, and acquisitions editors will read your letter before they will spend time reading your manuscript. Having a professional query letter is therefore very important. 

I’m available for query letter critiques. A critique includes detailed feedback on your query letter with suggestions on how to improve it. I will address the hook, logline, blurb, biographical information, and closing. I’ll also read the letter’s second draft and send you my comments. I cannot guarantee you’ll find representation or a publishing deal, but I can offer you insight into what may stand in the way and enhance your chances of a response.

A query letter critique (with a letter of max 450 words) costs €50. The critique does not include an edit of your sample material or longer synopsis. I’ll charge an additional fee for first-chapter editing.

 Contact me for more information. 


As a writing coach, I can help you get started, stay motivated, or guide you to the next level. Perhaps you’ve written a few stories and would like to know how to revise, submit, and get published. Perhaps you’re a flash fiction writer who needs advice on becoming a novelist. Perhaps you’re struggling with an essay because it feels too personal (which probably means it’s good). I can give you critical feedback, writing exercises, counseling, and positive encouragements. I love sharing what I know and helping you get better at what you love. 

 Contact me for more information. 

—Workshops / Classes / Lectures / Appearances—

Writing is what I like most. But I enjoy talking about writing almost as much. 

I organize workshops and creative writing classes. I visit schools and libraries to talk about A Whale in Paris or the challenges of writing historical fiction. I teach the Art of Flash with as much enthusiasm as the Art of Revision. I share short story submission strategies, give advice on how to write a strong query letter, judge contests, and answer book club questions. In short: I’m available for all sorts of events for a variety of audiences, in person and online. 

 Contact me for more information.


Sometimes I am a web designer. I haven’t updated my portfolio in years, which is terrible marketing for my services, but on LinkedIn people still say nice things about me. 

Contact me if you want to know more.