Avril OReillyAvril describes herself as Cork girl, aunt, children's book writer and picture editor.

I think she is a very talented creator of beautiful and funny tales: the kind of stories that will make you and your children laugh and cry at the same time. 

If you have a child about to make a first communion and you have not read together Kathleen and the Communion Copter I would urge you to pick up a copy and read it today. This book reminds us all that the material things are not important in the big balance of life. 

I love Avril's work, both as a writer and an illustrator and I am happy that she agreed to answer some questions for us. 

Why do you write?

I like the attention.  I love the idea of someone somewhere reading my book.

How did you start writing and how did you arrive at self-publishing your books in Amazon and Smashwords?

I got into self-publishing when I lived in London and there was a recession on.  I worked on a newspaper and I could see that we had to reject very good features by good writers.  I could see that just because a publisher does not take your book that is not necessarily a bad sign.

What has been the biggest obstacle that you have had to overcome as a self-published author so far?

The biggest obstacle is working out how to show the people who would like you book that it is out there.  I suppose I'm talking about marketing.  If I have another book out I want to be on local radio stations all over Ireland.  The last few books I bought were ones I heard about on the radio.

What advice would you give to beginner authors?

Finish whatever you are doing.  Don't worry whether it is good or bad til it is finished.  When it is done you can really compare it to what else is out there.  

Tell us about your books and your characters. Do all your books revolve around Kathleen's Cork?

My first book was a story told in pictures about a little Black girl called Bekki who just happens to be a fairy.  'A fairy in the Family' had very high production values.  I got magazine photographers to take the pictures.     It has taken years!   I did the sequel recently and the model who played Bekki the fairy at age four came back to play her own babysitter aged 11.    
 
The fairy book cost a lot and I was learning where the costs are in producing a book.  I decided to have words and home-made pictures for my book about Kathleen making her communion.  As for the characters, there are more to come.  Kathleen has a big family and I have been writing more stories about them.  I like writing about the two little brothers when the aunties are doing the babysitting.  The aunties think they are great but disasters happen when they are in charge.  They have big ideas about child psychology but get distracted by the TV.  I have  a few more stories with them in mind.  
 

Do you have any closing thoughts? 

I had hoped to support myself with writing.  I haven't yet managed that but I have realized that you get many rewards that have nothing to do with money.  When people talk about my characters like they are real people, I get a huge kick out of that.

I also want to say that translating my books into Spanish introduced me to fabulous people all over Latin America.  I did a lot of research for 'Danger -Pope Francis Day' and those 26 countries feel so much closer to me now.

Resources

Other books by Avril include: 

 

Avril's books

Avril writes what she calls Auntie Books. These are very short books for aunties who can drop in and visit their nieces, nephews, kids of friends, whip out the smart phone and read an entire book while the attention span lasts.

According to Avril, an Auntie Book should be no more than 1,000 words. 

 

01Danger! - Pope Francis Day.- Good things are happening in Kathleen's school. The children in the Holy Communion class are doing a project on Latin America. It seems like a good idea, especially as Pope Francis comes from Latin America. The children each take a country and prepare a presentation. It sounds simple. But will Nessa, the little rich girl, make things difficult with her project on Peru? Hmmmm...probably!

 

Communion Copter Avril OReillyKathleen And The Communion Copter.- Are you in a pre-Communion tizz? Worry not! The book will help girls and their families to prepare for a First Holy Communion. It takes a light-hearted look at the pressures that the modern Communion can put on families. There is a gentle message about the meaning of Communion and a warning against getting carried away with the (admittedly very enjoyable) commercial and superficial aspects.

 

03Spending the Holy Communion Money.- Kathleen's aunties have been left in charge of her little brothers, Tommy and Teddy, while she goes into town to spend her Holy Communion money. Unfortunately Auntie Dee and Auntie Di do not know much about children. When Tommy and Teddy are quiet the aunties do not realise that silence means trouble.

 

 

04The Trip to Tallaght.- Holy Communion gifts....what to buy? Kathleen and her Nan go on a shopping trip to Dublin to get Communion gifts for the Dublin cousins, Declan and Sally. Sally is no problem. It is easy to find presents for a girl. But what on earth will they get for Declan, a little boy with very particular tastes. Help comes from Hollywood when Maureen O'Hara helps the shoppers to solve their problem.

 

 

05The Doondah Veil.- Áine is worried that her gifted little brother will ruin her First Holy Communion with his non-stop flow of chatter. His obsession with a Makem and Clancy song could spoil things for everyone. She devises various plans to make sure he is not in the church on her special day. Tractors and magic play a crucial part.

 

 

06The Trip to Bandon.- Many Irish parents get into a huge tizz over the their children's First Holy Communion. During the lead up to the Communion season newspapers and radio shows are full of parents worrying, over-spending, worrying, and asking for and doling out advice. In this story Kathleen and her mum and Nan go on a pleasantly aimless trip to Bandon to look for a tasteful dress.

 

07Cousin Assumpta's Dress.- Many little girls in Ireland borrow the dresses for their First Holy Communion from their big sisters or cousins. This is the tale of a girl who finds that her cousin's beautiful dress just does not fit her. She comes up with a clever, so she thinks, solution to the problem.

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