Mayobridge aunt and niece publish inspiring environmental awareness children's book – County Down Outlook

MAYOBRIDGE woman Loretta Dinsmore and niece Molly Ward (Newcastle) have published a children’s book with an inspiring environmental message.

Loretta Dinsmore has been writing nearly all her life, although only recently made her debut as an author.

Loretta’s niche previously lay with writing music, having been in a local folk band with her husband Robbie Dinsmore and was one of the members of the well-known local four piece group the Phillips Sisters.

At present Loretta is music tutor and teaching assistant at St Mary’s Primary School, Rathfriland.

Loretta also had a passion for photography and decided to take up a photography course in the tech to grow her skills, and from there it all started.

Loretta stated: “I was doing a photography course and for my final exam piece I was creating a piece on the forests and how important they are to life in all its forms.

“My niece Molly (22) had just completed a course in theatre makeup so I asked her would she body paint my models for the photo shoot in Tollymore. I had also written a few lines with the pictures and it was all presented in an A3 book with dried flowers, dried bark mosses.

“The book was such a success that close friends and relations encouraged me to develop the story further so after lockdown Molly and I put our heads together and here we are.”

The book is called ‘Little Creatures of the Magical Forest’ and it has a strong environmental message which was inspired by the beauty of county Down forests. It’s a fantasy story with fairies and four little creatures who secretly protect the landscape.

“It is a fairy story that tells of the antics of four little creatures finding a way for children to take responsibility for the environment,” Loretta explains.

“Hopefully the book will influence children even to inform the parents and grandparents of how important it is because in that generation some people have missed it.”

Loretta says that when she started the course, she never intended on writing a children’s books and stated: “It just landed on my lap, I didn’t go out searching for it. I still can hardly believe that I’ve actually done this.”

The journey began

The whole process took 18 months as Loretta believed if she was going to do this, she was going to do it to the best of her ability.

Loretta stated: ”The idea came in 2018 but with Covid nothing happened until about 18 months ago. We would meet up about once a week and would sit and work it out for about three or four hours and then I would come home and re-read and re-write.”

Molly was very grateful to her aunt for providing her with this “amazing experience and opportunity” to further her on in her career.

Molly stated: “Creating the illustrations for this book has been an amazing experience and opportunity. When Loretta first approached me with her idea for her photography project, I was very impressed with her creativity. I was studying special effects and media makeup in tech at the time, so I was more than happy to help her with the body painting project.

“Time went by, I had just started my career as a freelance artist at the age of 20 when Loretta pitched her idea on writing the story, adding that she wanted me to portray the characters from her imagination using my artwork, from here we worked together to create illustrations that were compatible with Loretta’s words. “

Loretta and Molly met regularly to rewrite and edit until they felt ready to take the plunge and set up a meeting with a publisher.

Loretta said: “I sent it around a few publishers and then this one man came back to me and said we can self-publish but you have to give us £2,500 and then we will do the rest. I said, ‘you know what I would rather spend the £2,500 myself and have total control over it’.”

So, Loretta and Molly got their heads together on what size they wanted the book to be and what they wanted it to look like and feel like. They then went to another publisher and this time Loretta knew this was the one.

Loretta says: “We got a printer up in Ballycastle that had printed another children’s book and it’s exactly the quality that I wanted as it is high quality, high quality paper, colours, and this is probably the only time I will do something like this so I was going to do it right, so we did invest quite a bit but it was more about, I believe in doing something right, doing it to the best of my ability.”

The pair were both so pleased with the end result of the book and Molly says that seeing her name printed on the front of the finished product was “surreal.”

“The whole process was a journey of mixed emotions,” says Molly, “exciting yet overwhelming, this book is a new chapter in my career. After trying different media, we chose to go with digital artwork for our book.

“The first time I saw the book printed with ‘M. Ward’ on the front was surreal. I am beyond proud of both Loretta and myself, we worked so hard on this, and it’s finally paid off.

“This has boosted my confidence and belief in my abilities, and I know it will go a long way in terms of growing my business as an artist.”

Where to purchase?

Loretta said: “Hopefully some of the local shops will, there’s a shop in Rathfriland and I was in the other day, and they said that they would take it and Molly has been around a few shops in Newcastle but we have nothing finalised yet.

“It will be on sale online as well. I didn’t want to use Amazon, I think local businesses need people helping each other out, so that’s the story so far.”

Will there be a sequel?

“Well do you know what I wouldn’t say no because there is so much you could do,” says Loretta.

“All these little characters, I call the characters Earth, Wind and Fire, these characters are the elements within the environment, but they also take on a form, there could be a few more.”

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