A TWELVE-year-old student has thrown down the gauntlet to become Ireland’s next Eoin Colfer by getting a publishing deal for her very first book.
Fiona Buckley’s novel, Better Than Gold, owes its birth to a summer holiday essay project by her teacher Cyril Lovett who was so impressed by her effort that he decided to send her manuscript to a publisher.
They in turn were so taken by Fiona’s work - set during the time of the Great Famine - that they immediately agreed to publish it once it was extended to full book length.
Fiona has now dedicated all proceeds from the book to Down Syndrome Ireland in tribute to her brother John who was born with the condition.
“I was shocked when I heard that the book was going to be published. I never dreamed that could happen,” said Fiona.
“I’m really excited about it and really grateful for all the support I have got from my teachers, my school friends, my family and everyone else.”
Fiona is a sixth-class student at Ballyvongane national school outside Coachford, Co Cork.
In fact, she is the only student in sixth-class and works alongside third, fourth and fifth-class students.
Her mother, Grett, believes the inspiration for the book came from a school history project on the Famine that captured Fiona’s imagination.
Another element may be the fact that Grett is a respected journalist with RTE. She is married to Gerard Buckley and they live outside Coachford with their five children, Fiona (12), Ciara (11), John (9), Maggie (7) and Timmy (4).
“We couldn’t believe it when we discovered that Fiona was working on a book and already had 8,000 words written,” said Grett.
“The final manuscript went to around 17,500 words and both the principal and the publisher were really impressed.”
Fiona dedicated the book to Mr Lovett for inspiring her to write it, and has decided that all the proceeds from its publication will go to the Munster sections of Down Syndrome Ireland.
Better Than Gold will be formally launched next Tuesday (May 27) at Macroom Library by Cork singer-songwriter John Spillane.