With Christmas around the corner, many people, especially parents, are faced with the daunting task of buying Christmas gifts for loved ones, especially children.
People are aware that this year due to the economic crisis brought about by the COVID pandemic, the festive season will be a simpler affair, likely with fewer imported goods.
However, there are options for gifts made by locals. One option is a series of children books by Seychellois author Audrey Lavigne. SNA caught up with the budding author whose books revolve around the adventure of Jasper the island-hopping dog.
SNA: Tell us a little bit about yourself, where were, you born, about your childhood in general.
AL: My name is Audrey Lavigne (married Lepair), and I was born and raised in 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 and moved to Mahe 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.
Lavigne currently lives on the second most populated island of Praslin, with her husband, daughter and her dog, Jasper: the inspiration for her children books. (Audrey Lavigne) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
SNA: When did your love for writing develop?
AL: From a very early age, I have always been a 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 books one day, but I never got the time to do it until the lockdown.
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 wanted and at a reasonable price.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.
SNA: Tell us about your books.
AL: The first two books are a series about Jasper the Island Hopper. 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 they also love adventure. So, in this series, Jasper goes island-hopping, hence the name, and in each book, he visits a different island of Seychelles. Written in rhymes with their candid illustrations, these educational books show the main attractions of each island and also teaches the children good behaviour.
My third book is An Only Child’s Diary. 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. 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.
I chose hose Jasper because children love animals, more so if they are friendly and they also love adventure. So, in this series, Jasper goes island-hopping, hence the name, and in each book, he visits a different island of Seychelles. (Audrey Lavigne) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
SNA: Why write for children?
AL: I wanted to grab the attention of everyone, not just adults. I decided to write children’s books as most children’s books are bought and read by parents themselves, this guarantees that my books are seen by a wider audience. Hence, children can learn about our country, while the parents can be inspired and motivated to add Seychelles on their lists of countries to visit.
SNA: Moving forward what are your plans?
AL: I have more books which I plan to publish next year, three more to add in the Jasper series – A trip to La Digue, A picnic on Curieuse, and Christmas countdown with Jasper. Four more to add in An Only Child’s Diary Series and a few more, including romance novels, and non-fiction.
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 wonderful journey. I also plan to donate 10 percent of profit to charities and organisations helping children in need here.
SNA: Where will your books be sold and how much will they cost?
AL: All three books are available on Amazon, but I am getting them printed locally so that I can sell them here as well, both to our people and tourists. They will be available at Chanterelle Bookstore on Mahe and some souvenir shops around the islands very soon. However, I have organised a launching event first, which will be on November 28, on Praslin and December 5, on Mahe at Eden Plaza.
All three books selling at my launch events will be special because they will be first editions and signed copies. The Jasper ones will be at Rs.200 ($10) each, whereas, An Only Child’s Diary will have a bookmark along and they will be at Rs.250 ($11) each. They will be great Christmas gifts for children.
All three books selling at the launch events will be special because they will be first editions and signed copies. They will be great Christmas gifts for children. (Audrey Lavigne) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
SNA: Tell us about your education and studies.
AL: 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.
SNA: What are you currently doing, career-wise?
AL: I own a small villa which I was renting out to tourists until lockdown. Sadly, I am currently not operating. This year 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 next year everything starts going back to normal whereby we will see more visitors coming here to enjoy the beauty and tranquillity 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 lockdown, because they are the ones who understand this situation less than adults do.