biography

JuliannaHello. I thought I’d tell you a little about myself. I grew up in Cork Ireland. Went to college and studied Zoology. Then travelled to Australia with my future husband, and lived in the sunshine for 3 years. When I returned home, I continued to work in science.

In 2008 I wrote my first story, Madeira Spunge, about a little girl and her adventures in a bakery. I drew illustrations to go with the story, and gave it to a teacher friend to read to her class of keen 7-9 year olds. They loved it and wrote me lovely letters to let me know exactly how they felt about it. So, I kept writing and illustrating, novels, short stories, and picture books, like Plain Boring, Zombie Girl Ghost Boy, Tree, Sophie’s Balloon.

I joined a writing group and met some lovely, enthusiastic people. I found Children’s Books Ireland and started going to writing conferences, workshops and seminars, where I met many more lovely, enthusiastic people.

Studio

In 2011, I wrote and illustrated a short story, Zombie Girl Ghost Boy, to read at a Halloween event at The Hunt Museum in Limerick. The story and accompanying workshop led to The Hunt asking me to act as their first Writer-in-Residence in 2012. Through the residency, I ran creative writing and illustration workshops for children, organised writing competitions, and readings. And, got to work with the most imaginative and inspiring kids! Due to the success of the residency, they asked me to do it all again in 2013.

In the meantime, the children’s literature publication The Looking Glass magazine published extracts from my children’s novels Madeira Spunge and Plain Boring, along with a few of my illustrations. My artwork was chosen for the cover of their second issue in December 2012, and a further illustration was published in March 2013. I have exhibited my artwork in a number of spaces in Cork, and opened my first solo exhibition in May 2012.

Following a fateful meeting in Trinity College Dublin at the launch of The Looking Glass magazine, I began to collaborate on a two book project with award winning YA fantasy author Conor Kostick. Conor wrote two wonderful books — The Book of Curses, and The Book of Wishes — both of which I have illustrated and have now been published.

I regularly enter writing and drawing competitions. My children’s novel Plain Boring was long listed for the Irish Writers’ Centre’s 2012/2013 Novel Fair competition. And, just recently I won the RTE Radio 1 Arena Book Cover Design competition — a collection of eclectic short stories and poems to be published by New Island Books in the Autumn of 2013.

Currently I am looking after my new baby daughter Isla Rose, who inspires me every day. Together we are working on a picture book about a small blue elephant who likes to do things her way. If Isla likes a picture she lets me know by eating the corner of the page, if she doesn’t like a picture, the page remain uneaten.

Creating quirky, imaginative stories is what I have to do. Sharing them with readers is what I love to do.

 

 

All images & text © Julianna O’Callaghan