Books Make Things Better with Úna Woods

Have You Seen the Dublin Vampire? is my first picturebook which has just been published by The O’Brien Press. I’m a writer and illustrator from Dublin but started my career working as a classical feature animation artist for studios such as Don Bluth, Warner Bros. and Disney. I loved working in the animation industry, and was fortunate to have worked on classic films such as Space Jam bringing some of the Looney Tune characters to life. I learnt so much about drawing but I really wanted to work in illustration. I moved to London in 1999 where I got my first job working as an Illustrator for a design agency. I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator since then. I work predominantly on projects that are for children. My style is cute, vibrant, playful and colourful. My work has featured in many different types of projects including educational books, games, print and web campaigns however I had always dreamt of creating my own picturebook.


This opportunity came when The O’Brien Press ran a ‘Pitch Perfect’ event on Culture Night 2018. I had never pitched to a publisher before so I went along nervously with my idea not really knowing what to expect. I brought along my concept for the story and lots of sketches and colour style examples of how I wanted the book to look. I knew I wanted my story to be about a vampire. I grew up in Clontarf, close to Marino Crescent where Bram Stoker was born so I always had a fascination that the character Dracula was created so close to where I lived. I liked the idea that a vampire could be living nearby and going about his business just like everyone else. I wanted to show how busy people are nowadays rushing around spending too much time on their phones to see what is going on around them. The vampire could just walk by them and they wouldn’t even notice. The story takes you on a journey through Dublin at night as the vampire goes on his walk. He visits some of Dublin’s iconic locations such as Trinity College and Dublin Castle, Bewleys and even the ‘Dead Zoo’ throughout the story.


Dublin has become such a multicultural vibrant city –I really wanted to show this in the artwork by having loads of different types of characters in the busy scenes. I also used lots of bright colours and funky patterns. I had so much fun making my book especially adding in little details like animals in each scene and cheeky things that the vampire’s companion the little bat was getting up to. I worked on my book from my studio at home. I have two children Rosie aged twelve and Dylan aged ten which means I have to fit my work schedule around them. I was still working on my book when the lockdown happened earlier this year. It meant that everyone was at home working and getting schoolwork done at the same time. I enjoyed the freedom of the lockdown as usually there is so much to try and fit into a day with homework and all the kids afterschool activities, it was great to be able to work and be creative when time didn’t seem to matter so much. I had the last few spreads of my book to draw up and I remember worrying about drawing the busy crowd scenes as the characters definitely weren’t two meters apart!

The O’Brien Press team did such an amazing job on the production and design of my book, I am so excited that it is out in the world now and I can’t wait to see it in bookshops.