FOLLOWING the phenomenal success of ‘Butterfly Barn’ which was released last year, local author Karen Power will launch ‘On Butterfly Wings’ this Friday at The Book Centre, Waterford.
Originally from Waterford City but now living in Kilmeaden with her husband Michael and children Aisling and Eoghan, Karen has experienced an incredible time since ‘Butterfly Barn’ hit bookshelves.
Reflecting on the success of ‘Butterfly Barn’, Karen said she was overwhelmed at the support and goodwill which she received.
Hundreds of people turned up at The Book Centre for the book’s launch, while a successful launch was also held at Eason’s in Dungarvan.
“I never imagined The Book Centre would launch the book or that people would turn up in the numbers they did. I had an idea that family and friends would come and support it but I never imagined things happening the way they did,” she said.
“So many people turned up and supported the book launch and told their friends about the book. It snowballed after that with people passing on the book to their friends and telling other people about it. People knock Waterford a lot, but I can’t say enough about the people of Waterford. People have been so helpful in supporting me and getting the book out there.”
Karen has taken great satisfaction from receiving photos of people reading her book in various locations around the world.
A slot on RTÉ One’s ‘Nationwide’ brought her story to a national audience earlier this year.
Now, she is incredibly excited as she prepares to launch ‘On Butterfly Wings’ which is also part of the Butterfly Barn series.
“If you never read ‘Butterfly Barn’ you could still pick up ‘On Butterfly Wings’ as it’s written as a standalone book,” explained Karen.
The book features characters which readers of ‘Butterfly Barn’ will be familiar with, however there is a fresh, new story for readers to enjoy.
But, is writing something which Karen always wanted to do?
“After working in the travel industry, I changed career and became a trainer and worked for Education and Training Boards teaching communications and tourism and working with adult literacy,” she explained.
“When I retrained I started to look at psychology and special education needs and lots of different courses. In one of these courses I had to keep a journal. I was never a diary writer but I started to write the journal.”
Karen discovered that writing was a powerful means of coping with a whole range of different emotions.
‘Butterfly Barn’ used personal experiences such as Karen’s attempts to cope with the loss of her twin baby boys during pregnancy.
“It was a very difficult time and I couldn’t talk about it. I couldn’t get those words out,” she said.
“Writing helped me as I found I could tap into areas of deep feelings. By default, I started to write as if things had happened to somebody else. I found it easier when it was somebody else’s story. Before I knew it, all these characters had come into my head and I had three characters who were friends and I explored how their lives intertwined to create this place called Butterfly Barn.”
She continued: “Jessie’s story is personal as she lost twin babies. That part is true to life but the rest of it is completely made up! It’s set in the South-East and it’s funny listening to people trying to figure out where a certain location is. The beach in the book is called Bayrush beach and some people say it’s Tramore, others say it’s Woodstown, others say it’s Boatstrand. To be honest it’s a little bit of every beach because we have so many beautiful beaches here in Waterford.”
‘Butterfly Barn’ received the endorsement of Feileacain, a not for profit organisation that provides support to anyone affected by the death of a baby during or after pregnancy.
As well as the traumatic experience of losing twin babies, ‘Butterfly Barn’ examines the issue of dyspraxia.
Along with covering these difficult topics, Karen was able to draw on her vast experiences from her time spent working in the travel industry.
She uses her experiences from working at Harvey Travel and her observations of the efforts of Sean Power and Anthony Brophy to attract cruise liners into Waterford.
“It was fascinating to see it all play out,” she said.
Although born and raised in the city, Karen, whose husband Michael is a farmer, thoroughly enjoys country life in Kilmeaden.
She also uses these experiences in her writing.
“Jessie has a horse riding school and that brings in the farming aspect and the interest in horses and the countryside,” she explained.
She hopes that someplace like Butterfly Barn can eventually be established some day.
“That’s what drives me. I envisage a holistic place like Butterfly Barn with self-catering units around a lovely barn, outhouses, log cabins and a wooded area and a lake. It could host different weekends such as a writer’s weekend or a weekend for families of people with dyspraxia. The children would have different activities and everyone could enjoy themselves.”
She added: “Maybe somebody will eventually see that a place like Butterfly Barn could work. Ideally, it would be situated here in the South-East and ideally here in Waterford. We have the mountains, the beaches, the people, the history, the culture, we have it all.”
In ‘On Butterfly Wings’, a place called Butterfly Barn is already created and the lives of some minor characters in ‘Butterfly Barn’ are further examined.
One of the weekends offered at Butterfly Barn is for a group of literacy students.
Literacy is an issue which is explored in the book, and again Karen draws on her own personal experiences from working in adult learning.
“These are people who are interested in learning to read and write but may have fallen through the net somehow,” explained Karen.
Karen says she has been very lucky to receive help from Waterford City Arts Office and Arts Links, and thanked all those who have supported her along the way.
And, readers will be delighted to know there is more to come in the Butterfly Barn series.