Happy Book Birthday to The Vanishing Lake!
Hello, dear readers! Welcome to a very important blog post featuring a special book birthday for The Vanishing Lake by Paddy Donnelly!
Be sure to read to the bottom to learn how you can get your name in the hat to win a free copy of The Vanishing Lake, compliments of Yeehoo Press (US only). Thank you, Yeehoo Press and Helen Wu, for this opportunity!
Let’s get right to it.
1. Welcome, Paddy! Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a picture book illustrator and author, originally from Ireland and now living in Belgium. I’ve had seven picture books published so far, with my debut author illustrated one, The Vanishing Lake, being my 8th. I also illustrate covers for middle grade novels, as well as a bunch of other things. My background is in web design and I did that for a number of years following university, then I transitioned into doing kids’ apps for the iPhone. That introduced me to illustrating for kids and I really enjoyed it. For the last two or three years I’ve been focusing on children’s publishing and I really love it.
You have had a very a fascinating career path!
2. Congratulations on your new book! What was your inspiration for The Vanishing Lake?
Thank you! Well, it’s actually based on a real vanishing lake close to my hometown! It’s called Loughareema and it actually does disappear and reappear every few days. While my book contains a few more magical elements like mermaids, giants and narwhals, Ireland is a place full of mythical stories, so I was always surrounded by that growing up. When I was coming up with a few picture book stories a couple of years ago, the real vanishing lake from back home popped into my head and I thought it’d be an interesting premise for a picture book.
It certainly is interesting! I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Vanishing Lake! It’s such a fun, imaginative story!
3. What was the writing and illustrating journey you took as you wrote this book? As both author-illustrator, how did that impact your creative process?
I started first with the basic idea – a lake that would mysteriously vanish and reappear and vanish and reappear. Then I needed a main character – a child for the reader to identify with. I wanted the character to be searching for the reason for the mystery and ended up with a Grandad character who would tell fantastic stories. Having the main character, Meara, refuse to believe the stories allowed me to keep pushing them to be bigger and more unbelievable. That was the premise and then I started sketching out the roughs, knowing that I had a certain number of pages to work with and that I wanted a few different beats to happen through the book – the lake gone, then flip the page and it was back, then gone again, and then a double page spread for each story, and conclusion. Once I had all of that lined out, I started to write the actual words. Then it was a real back and forth process, with the words informing the illustration and vice versa. This is certainly different to the usual process when I’m illustrating someone else’s story, and I really loved the creative freedom it gave me to have full control over both aspects.
I’m fascinated by the process you used for The Vanishing Lake. How fun to be able to switch back and forth between writing and illustrating, and to have total control over the whole project.
4. Everything is different right now with COVID-19, but how will you celebrate the book birthday of The Vanishing Lake on April 20?
I actually have a few virtual events lined up with bookshops in the book’s birthday week, so that’s going to be lots of fun! I guess one of the silver linings of the pandemic is the emergence of virtual author events, so I’m looking forward to doing a few storytimes, drawalongs and Q&A sessions with bookshops and their customers. I would of course absolutely love to be doing something in-person in a bookshop, so hopefully when the world goes back to normal I’ll get the opportunity to do that for a future book. I have been trying to take the time to celebrate the good moments more and more this past year though, so I may have to raise a glass at home on publication day.
Sounds like the perfect combination of events to make the week very special! We have learned some new tricks and skills in the days of the pandemic, haven’t we?
5. I love the joyful imagination that is such a huge part of The Vanishing Lake. How do imagination and your childhood experiences impact your creativity?
I definitely had (and still do I think) a vivid imagination as a child and used to draw my own stories so much. Growing up with natural wonders like Loughareema and the Giant’s Causeway on my doorstep maybe made me take them for granted, but I think I’ve now got a renewed appreciation for them now. And definitely the rugged cliffs, mountains and magical greens of the Irish landscape have an influence on my illustration style. As imagination is the centre of this story, it allowed me to keep pushing to come up with more extravagant stories for Grandad to tell.
Ooh, perhaps there will be a future picture book about the Giant’s Causeway! 😉 One of my bucket list items is visiting Ireland.
6. What are you working on now?
I’m working on a lot of picture books at the moment. I’ve got a few more coming out later this year and next year. And I’ve got a few middle grade covers on the go too. Lots of different projects happening at once, but that’s the way I like it. I like to hop between projects as it helps keep my imagination going and I don’t get too bogged down in one set of illustrations for months on end. I think I need that variation for my creativity.
So, you also work as a professional project juggler? LOL. I like to juggle writing projects as well. Like you said, it helps keep my imagination and creativity fresh.
7. Surprise us! What else would you like to share?
Perhaps the most exciting project I’m working on is my second author illustrated picture book, Dodos Aren’t Extinct, which I’m illustrating right now. That’ll be coming out in Spring 2022. Very exciting!
Congratulations! That is exciting! It sounds like another captivating story!
Thanks so much for stopping by to visit, Paddy! Best wishes on The Vanishing Lake and all of your other projects.
Readers, you can purchase your own copy of The Vanishing Lake by clicking the following links.
The Vanishing Lake links:
Paddy’s social links:
Here are 3 ways to get your name in the hat to win a copy of The Vanishing Lake (US only). A winner will be randomly chosen in one week on Tuesday, April 27.
1. Like and comment on this blog post. Please make sure I have your email address so I can notify you if you win.
2. Follow this blog and tell me how you follow. Please make sure I have your email address so I can notify you if you win.
3. Visit my Twitter page @AngieQuantrell for more chances to win a copy of The Vanishing Lake.
CONGRATULATIONS TO Janet Frenck Sheets! You won a copy of The Vanishing Lake!