Fiona (12) strikes Gold as her first novel published
A SCHOOLGIRL has thrown down the gauntlet to become the next Eoin Colfer by getting a publishing deal for her very first book.
Twelve-year-old Fiona Buckley's novel 'Better Than Gold' began life as a summer holiday project for her teacher Cyril Lovett.
Mr Lovett was so impressed by her effort he decided to send her manuscript to a publisher.
They in turn were so taken by Fiona's work, set during the Great Famine, that they immediately agreed to publish it once it was extended.
"I was shocked when I heard that the book was going to be published. I never dreamed that could happen," Fiona said.
"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 has dedicated all proceeds from the book to Down Syndrome Ireland in tribute to her brother, John (9), who has the condition.
She is the only sixth-class student at Ballyvongane national school outside Coachford in Cork, sharing a classroom with third, fourth and fifth-class students.
Her mother, Grett, a journalist with RTE, believes the inspiration for the book came from a school history project on the Great Famine, which captured Fiona's imagination.
"We couldn't believe it when we discovered that Fiona was working on a book and already had 8,000 words written," Grett said.
'Better Than Gold' will be formally launched next Tuesday at Macroom Library by singer-songwriter John Spillane.