Since her first book was published in 2007, Sandy Fussell has had four educational and seven trade titles published.
Sandy says she became an author after receiving some strongly worded advice from her son.
When he was in Year 4, my eldest son abruptly stopped reading because ‘all books are boring’. I couldn’t find anything he was willing to read so I challenged him to write a story to show me what wasn’t boring. To my surprise he agreed, only if I scribed the words. I tried to help. I tried to help once too often and was told to: “Go write you own story and leave mine alone.”
I took his advice, discovered how much I loved writing and haven’t stopped since then.
Sandy brings this sense of humour and wisdom to her popular Samurai Kids books and her stand alone novels, Polar Boy and Jaguar Warrior. She says that the thing she likes most about writing and being an author is the opportunity to engage with young readers.
As a writer for children, I spend many hours in schools speaking to kids about reading and my books, and running writing workshops. I could fill pages with their funny anecdotes and even more pages with thierinspiring stories. I have set up a blogging project, ReadWriteZone, where I blog with classes of children at www.readwritezone.blogspotcom.
She says that the hardest thing about being a writer is that it’s not a full-time job and she finds it difficult to squash family, work and writing into twenty-four hours.
Luckily I don’t need a lot of sleep. It gets particularly hard during a busy period like Book Week or if one of my children is sick or a major deadline looms. It can be quite stressful and I couldn’t do it if I didn’t love storytelling. Sometimes I wonder if I would write better if I was more awake. But then again, I secretly think: probably not!
Before she became an author, Sandy was (and still is) a systems analyst/computer programmer managing a number of large projects.
“This professional background has helped me develop interactive teaching resources to support the use of my books in the classroom and to maintain a dynamic web presence.”
SANDY’S GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT & CURRENT WORKS IN PROGRESS
I don’t think I have a greatest writing achievement, yet. It’s a work in progress. I haven’t been writing long enough to make comparative judgments. Probably in about ten years I’ll look back over my volume of work and feel comfortable with that.
I am a fiddler and a diddler. I doubt I would get anything done if it wasn’t for editorial deadlines. I am currently completing the final revision of Golden Bat, the sixth book in the Samurai Kids series and my first picture book, Sad the Dog. I am working on a young adult novel which is new territory for me and an exciting challenge. I am partway through another historical novel but have put that aside for the moment. Finally, the idea for a new fantasy series keeps poking into my thoughts but I am trying to push that one away for a while.
CONSISTENT ELEMENTS IN SANDY’S WRITING
To date most of my book have been historical fiction set in early cultures – feudal samurai Japan, the Mexica (Aztec) Empire and the 14th century Arctic. The locations are widespread – and I hope to eventually write my way around the ancient world – but there are symbols and themes common to the times such as animal mythology. In these centuries a child of twelve to fourteen was about to assume adulthood so there are also strong coming of age themes in many of my titles. I don’t create symbols or themes on purpose. It just happens while I am telling the story.
SANDY’S TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS
Read. Anything and everything. Read inside and outside your comfort zone. Try new authors, new genres and new directions. Wide range reading helps old and new writers absorb good techniques and look at ideas differently. It inspires and stimulates.
I used to say I was the Cinderella author. I felt as if someone had waved a magic wand over me and for at least a year I was really worried I would turn back into a pumpkin. I don’t worry any more. I feel like I have found a comfortable corner of the castle, surrounded by books and kids. I don’t have a ball gown or a glass slipper but I have a wooden practice sword and a gong. It’s heaps more fun! (I always think of my school visits as the ‘pointy sticks and loud noises tour’. I’m probably the only author to bang a gong in the NSW State Library!)
Sandy’s websites include:
an author website (www.sandyfussell.com)
a website dedicated to the Samurai Kids series (www.samuraikids.com.au)
a personal blog (www.sandyfussell.blogspot.com)
a classroom blog (www.readwritezone.blogspot.com),
a forum under development (http://samuraikids.com.au/phpbb2/index.php)
a Facebook Fan page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Writing-WA/129790767068358#!/pages/Samurai-Kids-Series/132997448255?ref=ts).
Do I need all these? Probably not but I find it heaps of fun.
On Wednesday, we’ll hear all about how Sandy Fussell wrote Jaguar Warrior and on Thursday, Sandy is back at Kids’ Book Capers with some great insights into how she created her latest Samurai Kids’ book Fire Lizard. Hope you can join us then.