An Interview with Catherine Doyle


Firstly, for those who haven’t yet read the incredible The Storm Keeper’s Island, can you briefly sum up what it’s about?


The Storm Keeper’s Island is the story of an 11-year-old boy called Fionn Boyle, who is plucked from his home in Dublin City one day and sent to live on the remote island of Arranmore with a grandfather he’s never met before. When Fionn steps off the ferry and sets foot on the island for the first time, the earth begins to tremble beneath his feet and the wind starts to whisper in his ear. Though Fionn doesn’t quite know it yet, an ancient magic is waking up. It recognises him, and more than that, it wants something from him. Before long, Fionn finds himself caught up in an epic battle between good and evil, and the race to see who will become the next guardian of Arranmore.


The Storm Keeper’s Island is inspired by your real-life ancestral home of Arranmore Island and your ancestors’ daring sea rescues and adventure. What kind of research did you undergo during the writing process?


About two years ago, I visited Arranmore to teach creative writing in the local school. While I was there, I spent my free time exploring the rugged landscape – tracing the beaches where my grandparents played as children, peering over the sheer cliff-edges, exploring the hidden sea caves and secret lakes. In the evenings I would visit my cousins, travelling from cup-of-tea to cup-of-tea, discovering the stories of my ancestors’ daring sea-rescues and long-ago adventures. It was one of the most magical times of my life, and when I left the island, I just knew I had to write a story that was inspired by it!


What was your favourite part about writing The Storm Keeper’s Island?


I loved retracing the footsteps of my sea-faring ancestors and writing about the real lifeboat rescue of the S.S. Stolwijk. There was something particularly wondrous about merging ancient magic with real life history, and then putting a modern perspective on it all.


The grandfather, Malachie Boyle has become one of my favourite literary characters of all time! Where do you get your inspiration to write your characters?


Sometimes I take little slivers from the people I love and combine them together to make new personalities for my fictional characters. In my family, humour is really important, and my dad has always exhibited a certain level of joviality, even during sad or hard times. I wanted to reflect this in Fionn’s grandfather too, because I think it’s such a wonderful quality.


What are some of your favourite Celtic lores and legends?


I love anything to do with Dagda and Morrigan (which is probably obvious from The Storm Keeper’s Island). I also love all the stories of the Fianna warriors, and The Children of Lír was definitely a favourite of mine as a child.


Do you have any tips or advice for someone who wants to write their folklore inspired tale?


I think it’s important to just immerse yourself in it, until it feels like a part of you. Then don’t be afraid to add little bits of your own, or make alterations to the original folklore, either. I think that sense of culture and groundedness is important in folklore but it’s also nice to make these stories, even the really, really old ones, as original as possible when you re-write them.


If you were a storm keeper for the day, what memory would you capture in a candle?


I have different answers for this question, depending on my day and my mood! I think I would capture a memory of myself as an eight-year-old girl, spending the day at my grandmother’s house and eating her famous French toast drizzled in Lyle’s golden syrup, all with my nose stuck in a library book! Simpler, blissful times.


Book two of the Storm Keeper series, The Lost Tide Warriors, is out in July! Are you able to give us a sneak idea of what’s to come?


I can give you a sneak peak of the blurb…


Fionn Boyle has been Storm Keeper of Arranmore for less than six months when thousands of terrifying Soulstalkers arrive on the island. The empty-eyed followers of the dreaded sorceress Morrigan have come to raise their leader and Fionn is powerless to stop them. The Storm Keeper's magic has deserted him and with his grandfather's memory waning, Fionn must rely on his friends Shelby and Sam to help him summon Dagda's army of merrows.

But nobody else believes the ferocious sea creatures even exist. And how can he prove he's right without any magic? As Fionn begins his search for the lost army, the other islanders prepare for invasion. The battle to save Arranmore has begun.


What else is on the horizon for 2019 for you?


2019 will see the release of The Lost Tide Warriors, and hopefully lots of visits to schools around the country, as well as some literary festivals too!


And finally, I have to ask, what are your favourite children’s books at the moment? A childhood favourite and a current one!


My childhood favourite has to be Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. In terms of a recent favourite, we are truly living in the golden age of children’s literature so there are LOTS to choose from. So as not to be difficult and fill these page with a thousand answers, I will choose The Train to Impossible Places by P.G. Bell, because it truly swept me away, and made me laugh, too!


And, if you could invite any five people – past and present – to a dinner party, who would you invite and why?


Hmmm… I think I would invite Michelle Obama – I just finished her autobiography and it was AMAZING. Then perhaps Louis Theroux, because I love his documentaries. Shakespeare, just for the selfie. Penn and Teller, because I love magicians and they’d be great entertainment, and since they’re a duo, I’ll sneak in Beyoncé too!



A massive thank you to Cat for taking the time to answer these interview questions. If you haven't read The Storm Keeper's Island then you're seriously missing out. I can't recommend it enough and you can find out why in my review here.


The Lost Tide Warriors is the brilliant sequel to The Storm Keeper's Island where Fionn Boyle finds himself at the heart of the fight for the island's survival. Out July 2019, pre-order via Amazon here!


In the brilliant sequel to The Storm Keeper's Island, winner of the Books are My Bag Readers Award, Fionn Boyle finds himself at the heart of the fight for the island's survival.


Fionn Boyle has been Storm Keeper of Arranmore for less than six months when thousands of terrifying Soulstalkers arrive on the island. The empty-eyed followers of the dreaded sorceress Morrigan have come to raise their leader and Fionn is powerless to stop them. The Storm Keeper's magic has deserted him and with his grandfather's memory waning, Fionn must rely on his friends Shelby and Sam to help him summon Dagda's army of merrows.


But nobody else believes the ferocious sea creatures even exist. And how can he prove he's right without any magic? As Fionn begins his search for the lost army, the other islanders prepare for invasion. The battle to save Arranmore has begun.

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