Wednesday 11 August 2021

The Seed of Doubt - Author Q&A with Irena Brignull

The Seed of Doubt
bIrena Brignull and illustrated by Richard Jones

A little boy dreams of a world beyond the farm where he lives – a world full of mountain ranges, oceans and cities, where he could do anything. But one day he plants a seed from which doubts start to grow. Instead of thinking of all that he could do, he thinks more of what he could not. Can he overcome his fears and chase his dreams?

Q&A with Irena Brignull

 What was the inspiration behind The Seed of Doubt?

I wrote this story for my eldest child around the time I began to first see those tiny traces of self-doubt creeping in, as they do for all of us as we grow older. Witnessing his big dreams becoming smaller reminded me of that feeling we have when we’re very young before we start having to think logically or practically when anything feels possible and our ambitions are limitless. So I wrote The Seed of Doubt for my own child but also as a reminder of that youthful confidence and boundless expectation that life is there for the taking and that we can make the very most out of it.


Can you tell us a little bit more about your writing process?

With the picture book stories, I really just wait for inspiration to strike. I don’t try and force it. I write these stories for pleasure and I hope that comes across to anyone who reads them. Each one means something personal to me and are inspired by my children and my childhood. I tend to write them rather quickly from start to finish, riding that first wave of energy, and then go on to craft them over several drafts.

When I’m writing a screenplay or a novel, then my writing process is, of course, different. More of a marathon labour of love, head over the keyboard, getting the daily word count in, meeting deadlines, overcoming plot problems. I feel very lucky to get to write in so many different forms, but I have to admit, the picture book texts are a particular joy, especially when I get to see them come to life in Richard’s illustrations.

 What was it like seeing Richard’s illustrations for the first time?

It was a total thrill. Richard’s illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful and I was bowled over by how exquisitely and sensitively he interpreted my words. His work has both a texture and emotion to it that lifts his images from the page. There is so much to find in them.

 Do you have a favourite spread in the story?

Every page is gorgeous, but when I reached the spread where the boy looks out on the view from the top of the tree, I was stunned. The level of detail is just incredible and the cumulative effect captures so perfectly that sense of euphoria that I hoped the reader would share with the little boy.

What are your favourite picture books, both older and more recent?

The first picture book I remember is The Hungry Caterpillar. I recall it so vividly. The colours, the progression, the tactile nature of being able to put my fingers through the holes. I went on to love the Paddington stories, though I remember being very disappointed at the taste of marmalade. More recent books that I’ve loved with my own children are all of Julia Donaldson’s work, the words are such a pleasure to speak and to hear. Hairy Maclary and Giraffe’s Can’t Dance were also firm favourites and we still refer to Flat Stanley. More recently, I thought Jessica Love’s Julian is a Mermaid was absolutely gorgeous.


A special thanks to our guest this week, Irena Brignull!

The Seed of Doubt is now available in paperback from all good booksellers.