Bedtime Stories: Incredible Irish Tales From the Past is a beautiful and celebratory book of bedtime stories written and illustrated by Irish creators. We invited young writers to submit stories inspired by Irish history and events, and we are delighted to feature Lola-Mae McCormack, age 11, and her story ‘The Last Pingin’, in the book.
In this feature, we asked Lola-Mae and author Rachel Pierce to interview each other about writing and their inspirations.
Rachel’s questions for Lola-Mae:
1. Do you like to illustrate your own stories as well as write them?
I do and I like art but it can be frustrating sometimes because I can never seem to get the picture to match the one that’s in my head! Sometimes, if I’m writing a story that is set outside then I’ll take a photograph. Or, if I want to write and I can’t think of something to write about then I start with a photograph – it could be a butterfly, a rainy day, or even just the way the leafless branches in winter split up the sky.
2. Was it exciting to see your story illustrated by someone else?
It was very exciting! I wondered if the illustrator would see the character the way I did. When I saw the drawings, I thought the illustrator had done something I had never been able to do – put the picture from my head onto paper. I thought it looked amazing.
3. Where did you get your idea from?
A lot of Irish history that we study in school is very passionate and sometimes violent so I tried to research a time in Irish history that would be comforting as a bedtime story. My dad has a collection of old Irish coins and notes, which I always thought were really interesting and that I liked to draw sometimes. I hadn’t really thought much about their history before though but when I did a bit of research I found out a lot of very cool facts about that time.
Lola-Mae’s questions for Rachel
1. Which Irish Tale from the Past did you enjoy researching the most for this book?
The research is one of the best things about writing a book like this – I always learn so much. I enjoyed working on all fifteen stories, but I did particularly enjoy learning about the wild lives of Gordon Bennett and Camille Jenatzy for ‘The Story of the Original Grand Prix’. I loved the idea of those adventure-crazy men careening about the backroads of Ireland, skidding around chickens and onlookers. That definitely qualifies as an incredible tale!
2. Did you have a favourite bedtime story as a child?
I wasn’t read to at night-time, so my bedtime stories were the books I managed to sneak in and read after lights out. I was just about able to make out the words by the meagre light thrown into my bedroom by the bathroom light – and I usually read until my eyes closed and the book fell out of my hands. I couldn’t pick out a single favourite story, but I always loved Enid Blyton – the Fireside Tales, The Enchanted Wood, the St Clare’s books – those were perfect for drifting off to and into dreams. I adored Nancy Drew and collected the entire series with my best friend. I also loved a bit of a scary story at bedtime – the Fontana collections of ghost stories and a fantastic book I re-read often called Haunting Ghost Stories would have me wide-eyed with a thrilling sort of fear. Possibly not the best for sweet dreams!
3. If you had to write an Irish Tale for the Future what would it be about?
What a great question. I like the idea of a science fiction story that would collide three different Irish children – one from the future, one from early one from around the 1980s and then one from the Neolithic period. I think it would be really funny to throw them together and let them visit each other’s worlds. It would also be interesting to watch them learn what Ireland’s landscape has gained and lost over the centuries.