Audrey Lavigne: Author of Jasper The Island Hopper and An Only Child's Diary: How My Journey Began?
Tell me about yourself and when did your passion for writing Children's books start?
My name is Audrey Lavigne (married Lepair), and I was born and raised in the Seychelles. I am a very proud Seychellois, because I feel so blessed living in the most beautiful country in the world. I spent my whole childhood on Praslin, the second largest island, and moved to Mahe, the main island, when I was 18, where I lived for 15 years. It’s been six years now since I’ve moved back to Praslin, where I now reside with my husband, James, and my one and only daughter, Alyssa. I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and an MBA, both from the University of London. I enjoy travelling and spending time with my family and my dog, Jasper.
From a very early age, I have always been a vivid bookworm, and when I was a teenager, I used to write short stories and poems. I always said to myself that I would love to publish my own books one day, but I never got the time to do it until the lockdown. Sitting on my porch and feeling so sad about this whole Covid-19 situation, even more when I realized that visitors around the world could no longer come to enjoy our amazing country, I came up with the idea of writing books which I could publish on amazon so that I can get the world to still visit the Seychelles even if they cannot come here for now.
When was your first book published?
I started off with these 2 children’s book series: Jasper the Island Hopper, (age 4 to 10), and
An Only Child’s Diary, (age 8 to 13).
My first book in the series of Jasper the Island Hopper, subtitled “A day on Mahe”, was first published on Amazon on Tuesday the 13th of October 2020, and the second book in the same series, subtitled “An Adventure on Praslin”, was published on the 11th November 2020.
Jasper is my beautiful dog in real life and he is the main character in the book. I chose Jasper because children love animals, more so if they are friendly and moreover, kids love adventures.
So, in this series, Jasper goes island-hopping, hence the name, and in each book, he visits a different island of Seychelles, whereby he is greeted by a tour guide and together they spend the day, and also save a child in danger.
Written in rhymes with their candid illustrations, these educational books show the main attractions of each island and also teaches the children good behavior.
My third book is more for girls 8 to 13, and it is also a series, An only child’s Diary, and the first book in this series, subtitled " A new life" was published on Amazon on the 20th of October 2020.
Synopsis: Alyssa Preston, an 11-year-old girl is the only child in the family. She moves to Praslin, leaving behind her old school and friends. Her only friend is an imaginary sister, Hope. whom she writes to every day in a diary. Find out in the first book, subtitled: ‘A new life’, how Alyssa will cope with this big change, if she will meet new friends, and if she will be happy in the end? Not only will you love this girl, but you will admire her courage
Why did you choose to write Children's books specifically?
First of all, I adore little children so much because they are innocent, and I strongly believe that reading should be encouraged from a very early age, because research has proven that reading helps develop a child's brain, improve his concentration, social skills, and communication skills, which also lead to better behavior.
Furthermore, I wanted to grab the attention of everyone, not just adults, but children too. So, I decided to write children’s books. Simply, because most children’s books are bought and read by parents themselves. Hence, it gives me a wider audience.
I hope that my books inspire the children and parents around the world, so as to motivate them to one day come and visit the Seychelles. I also believe that these books will be enjoyed by our own little Seychellois kids, for they will learn a great deal about their own islands.
Could you describe your process of writing and where does your inspiration stem from? What's the most gratifying part of writing and publishing?
All three books were written during the lockdown period and I never thought that I will be enjoying doing this. I spend 3 days a week writing and it has not been easy sometimes, especially finding good editors and the right person to draw the illustrations I really wanted and at a reasonable price. The writing part is fun, but publishing is tough, as I self publish. And marketing after publishing is the hardest. This is a very competitive industry, especially children's books.
I am so glad that I finally found myself a good team to work with. Without them, this whole thing would not have been possible. And of course, I thank God for his blessings every day.
How has the response from the public been so far?
I did a book launch event before Christmas and I was very happy with the turnout. In general, the sales have been good so far and I am sure that it will get better when tourists come back. Even on Amazon, I have been doing quite well so far, considering that I am still new out there. Parents all around the world have also sent me beautiful photos of their children reading my books, which brings so much joy in my heart.
Do you have any plans for any more publications in the near future? 2020 has been a bad year for the whole world, and a sad one for our country that relies a lot on tourism. I hope that this year everything will eventually go back to normal whereby we see more visitors coming here to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of our islands. In the meantime, I hope that my books bring some happiness and joy in the hearts of our children who are stuck inside their homes due to the Covid-19 lockdown, because they are the ones who understand this situation less than adults do. If I know that a child somewhere is smiling while reading my books, that makes me the richest author in the whole universe. I have more books which I plan to publish this year. I think that my books are very special because they all promote Seychelles, which is the whole purpose and my initial intention from the beginning of this journey. I would love to add that I am also writing adult fiction and non-fiction books. I am half-way through a romance suspense, again based here in Seychelles, and I have started another book about how to earn a degree online. Writing from my own experience, I want to inspire others who wants a degree but cannot leave their job or their family behind. So, this year I will have a lot more books available for you all to purchase. I do hope that at least one of my books will touch your heart.
All I want to be known and remembered as, is simply:
“A proud Seychellois author who promotes our stunning country.”