Capturing the imagination

He’s a special needs assistant, runs his own publishing company, and in amongst US and Irish book tours DEREK MULVEEN has just launched his second illustrated children’s book. We recently caught up with him.

HUSBAND AND wife team Derek Mulveen and Michelle Melville have successfully published their sec ­ond children’s illus ­trated book Oisín the Brave – Robot Island, which is loosely based on Irish mythological characters with modern themes.

Oisín the Brave – Robot Island is the second instalment in a series of books, which began captivating chil dren with the re ­lease of Oisín the Brave Moon Adventure in 2012. More books are planned for 2015.

Derek is a member of IMPACT and works part-time as an SNA at Lakeview School, Galway. He changed career in recent years after the decline of the construction industry. Through volunteering with Michelle for the Irish Wheelchair Asso ciation he became interested in work ing with children and then became an SNA. His working hours were cut back in 2012 and he used the opportunity to devote more time to his writing.

Why children’s books? “Michelle would read to our daughter Mikaela (5) every night, when she was really young, and words weren’t really recognised. From that, I wanted to have our own stories out there. We thought we could do better, with an Irish twist to the stories” explains Derek.

As parents to Mikaela and Matthew (22 months), Derek and Michelle understand the importance of reading to children. They wanted to ignite the minds of three to seven year olds. “We hope the books encourage kids to use their imagination, to go to another realm, like when we were kids, playing outdoors. We want to promote that outdoor imagination of having fun, you don’t need technology to keep you entertained” he says.

Irish language

The narrative journey features interactive use of the Irish language, encouraging children to instil a ‘cúpla focal’ into their reading experience. “I went to an all Irish school, and worked in France, Belgium, and Spain for a while. When I came back I had almost lost my Irish. We wanted to bring back the mythology that won’t scare kids, with stories children could relate to, while using a little of the Irish language.

The books follow Oisín and his friend Orane (a dragon, of course) on their journeys through the Dolmen of Time into space and across the seven seas, where they meet strange creatures and help a little robot on a quest to find the golden key and save Robot Island, before time runs out.

Derek and Michelle run their own pub ­lishing house, Eire’s Kids, and they hope to promote more Irish writers next year. They have headlined at the Dublin Book festival, as well as the 2014 Listowel writers week, and completed two book tours in the US, and made an app ­earance in last year’s toy show on TV3. Derek does the illus ­trations for each book, which can take up to six months to com ­plete.

Oisín the Brave – Robot Island retails at €7.99 RRP and is available to purchase from Easons and leading bookshops nationwide. For further details or to purchase the book online and send someone special a signed book visit www.EireKids.com.

Interviewed by Martina O’Leary l