A LIMERICK author has been inspired by her childhood days in Cloverfield, her adult life living on a farm in Knockainey and the cartoon world of Walt Disney to pen a book for children.
Lorraine O’Byrne began writing ‘The Hippity Dippity Witch’ - a fantasy and magic filled story - a year ago after deciding to make the transition from adult fiction.
“That particular story is actually derived from my own childhood. The beginning of the book mentions the boreen, the school, and Hayes’ farm – that’s all from my own childhood in Cloverfield,” explained Lorraine who published her first book, an adult fiction book entitled ‘The Wrath of Voodoo’ in 2004.
As a child growing up in Cloverfield, Lorraine had a vivid imagination. One of her favourite pastimes was concocting adventure games in the garden.
“I watched a lot of Walt Disney movies and I loved children’s movies so I decided to change from adult fiction to children fiction. I loved writing stories. I could tap into my imagination and make up this whole new world and create all these characters. Your imagination is endless when you are writing for children - there are no restrictions or boundaries,” she explained.
Many of the characters in the ‘The Hippity Dippity Witch’ were inspired by the animals on the farm in Knockainey where Lorraine now lives with her husband Donal. There are two main characters in the book – a witch and an eight-year-old-girl named Jenny. There are talking animals, an enchanted forest, a surprising twist, and a moral to the story as well.
“You can’t run away from your problems. You have to face your fears,” said Lorraine of the lesson which is gently given to the young readers.
The story unfolds when Jenny Connolly skips school one day in order to avoid a spelling test that she has been dreading and escapes through the fields into an enchanted wood called Willow Grove.
In today’s world of endless computer games and gadgets, the importance of reading, Lorraine says, cannot be undervalued.
“An awful lot of children nowadays are playing with their Nintendos and computers and an awful lot of them are not learning to use their imagination. When I was a child we didn’t have any of that. We had to make up our games and invent our own world. I used to love all that and that’s where my imagination came from. Reading helps them learn new vocabulary and explore their imagination,” she pointed out.
Lorraine had been working for a company organising medical documentation when she decided to become a full-time writer.
She undertook a creative writing course in The Killaloe Hedge School. She has a degree in European Studies from the University of Limerick as well as a diploma in Freelance Journalism.
While she says she loves writing, she also admits that it doesn’t always come easy - the dreaded writer’s block has a habit of rearing its head on occasion.
“When it flows naturally, it’s lovely, really enjoyable,” said Lorraine, “but sometimes you can get writer’s block and get stuck and it can be frustrating. A lot of the time once you get started, your confidence builds and once you get stuck into a book, your confidence grows. You get immersed in the book and the characters.”
‘The Hippity Dippity Witch’ published by Feed A Read can be purchased at FeedARead.com and Smashwords.com and is also available in O’Mahony’s and in the Crescent Bookshop priced €6.99.