Just Imagine

Q&A with Catherine Doyle

Just Imagine: Although you initially studied Psychology at University, did you always know you wanted to be an author?

Catherine Doyle: Even as a child, I loved reading and writing stories, but it took me a long time to gain the confidence to sit down and write a full length novel of my own. I think my studies in psychology were an important stepping stone on my journey to become an author. I always knew I wanted to write but I just wasn’t ready at university. While there, I really got to broaden my view of the world and figure out who I was as a person, which informed who I became as an author.


JI: Were there any particular books that inspired you to put pen to paper yourself?

CD: I loved The Chronicles of NarniaArtemis Fowl and Harry Potter. These kind of sweeping stories full of unforgettable heroes and heroines really taught me how limitless our imaginations can be, and how much fun writing about magic is!


JI: Your earlier trilogy of books was for the YA market. What made you choose to write for a younger audience this time? How did your writing style differ?

CD: The change in audience happened quite organically. I knew I wanted to write a magical adventure story inspired by Arranmore Island and my own experience of Irish myths and legends. When I sat down to write the first few chapters, 11-year-old Fionn’s voice was already waiting in my head, ready to go. In terms of writing style, I adopted third-person narrative which allowed slightly more detachment as the narrator and is a style I much prefer, particularly when writing about secret ancient magic and worlds contained within worlds.


JI: Your previous books were set in Chicago, but The Stormkeeper’s Island is much closer to home in Ireland. How much of your own experiences & adventures can we read about in this book?

CD: I grew up in the West of Ireland beside the Atlantic Ocean, so the wild coastal setting is certainly inspired my own experience of it. The sibling rivalry is based in part on my own (sometimes fraught) childhood relationships with my (often annoying) brothers, and the sweeping sea-faring adventures are inspired by my grandfather and great grandfather who spent much of their lives at sea!


JI: Can you tell us a little about your family history that inspired this story?

CD: My mother’s family come from Arranmore, a beautiful, rugged island just off the North West Coast of Ireland. It was here that my grandparents were born, grew up and fell in love. When they moved to Chicago and later to Galway, on the West Coast of Ireland, they brought their love of the island with them. I grew up listening to stories of island adventures and courageous sea-faring rescues, recollections of brave ancestors and war-time visitors who washed up on Arranmore and never left. The magic in this story comes from the magic they gave to me as a child, and so, The Storm Keeper’s Island is very much a love letter to them as well as to Arranmore itself.


JI: What can we hope to see from you next?

CD: I am currently hard at work on the sequel to The Storm Keeper’s Island, a story that will include much adventure and peril, including pirates and merrows and long lost magic!