Lorraine O Byrne grew up in Cloverfield, Co Limerick. She has been writing for children since she was very young. Though her first novel, “The Wrath of Voodoo”, was adult fiction, Lorraine has since returned to her true passion, writing juvenile fiction. Her first children’s book, “The Hippity Dippity Witch” was published in 2012 to great reviews. Lorraine’s latest book, Lucy Pebble’s Miracle was published in December 2014.
Lorraine has a degree in European Studies, but her love of writing refused to be ignored and she decided this would be her chosen career. She took a creative writing course at The Killaloe Hedge School of Writing and later earned a diploma in Freelance Journalism.
Books are Lorraine’s passion and much of her inspiration comes from the various animals on her farm. Their funny antics and Lorraine’s powerful imagination combine to bring us a world of magic and wonder.
Lorraine 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 which is 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 a 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.
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. When you get started, your confidence builds and once you get stuck into a book, your confidence grows, one becomes immersed in the writing and the characters.”