Today we’re pleased to welcome debut author, Angela Sunde to Kids’ Book Capers. Angela is stopping here on a blog tour with her new book, Pond Magic and she’s going to be chatting with us about her life as a writer and where her ideas come from.
It’s so nice to be here on the Kids Book Capers blog. Thanks for inviting me.
Angela, how did you become a writer?
I have always been a storyteller. As a German teacher for many years my students would often ask me to tell them stories of my travels. These little anecdotes took on a life of their own as we moved the furniture around and pulled out the finger puppets or dress-ups.
Then, when travelling through Europe for six months with my own children in 2006, my colourful, descriptive and action-packed emails of our day to day adventures drew a dedicated following of readers. Even years later friends still tell me how sorry they were when the emails stopped.
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
I love working for myself and I don’t find it lonely at all. In fact I feel more connected to my writing peers than in any other job I’ve had. The friendships I’ve made have been the best part.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
The hardest thing is having to wear so many hats: webdesigner, blogger, publicist, marketer, accountant and event organiser. Writing is the fun part.
What is your greatest writing achievement?
The publication of Pond Magic as an Aussie Chomp with Penguin Australia is definitely a dream come true for me. I am very proud of this story and there is nothing I would change about it.
Where do your ideas come from?
Over the last few years I have become more observant of the people around me. I’d say most of my ideas come from personal experience; either my own childhood or the children in my family. I keep a notebook of ideas and often a story idea will come to me when I am free writing.
Where did the idea for Pond Magic come from?
I was asked to write a story for a fantasy anthology. I didn’t feel very confident as I’d never thought of myself as a fantasy writer, so I looked for help. Morris Gleitzman had given a talk at the CYA conference a few years ago and he’d shared with us the ‘secret’ of a successful story.
That secret was to give your character a problem and start your story with the problem. So I gave my character, Lily Padd, the problem of burping uncontrollably.
How did you develop the original idea into a story?
Once armed with a character and a problem, I asked myself a lot of questions using a mind map: What’s making her burp? What are the embarrassing consequences for her? What if other symptoms start to appear making it worse? What if she’s turning into a frog?
Was it a fun process?
Absolutely! I spent a lot of time laughing as things went from bizarre to ridiculous.
What did you enjoy the most about seeing the story unfold?
As I followed my scene plan the most enjoyable aspect of watching the story unfold was getting to know the characters and watching them interact as they developed into strong individuals.
What was the hardest part about going from initial idea to finished story?
The most difficult part was choosing which of the many solutions would save Lily and stop her turning into a frog. Even as I was half way through writing the story, I didn’t know exactly how it would end.
Do you think that being an illustrator as well helps you visualize ideas and characters?
Perhaps. I see the story in my head like a movie and the characters walk through the scenes in full colour. I see everything three dimensionally, even house plans.
After you came up with the initial idea, did you do things like drink French champagne and catch tadpoles to help you get into the mood of the story?
Oh dear, my secret is out! Actually we had not long ago returned from our trip to Europe and I had been captivated by the medieval walled city of Carcassonne, France, so of course in the story the French exchange student, Rainier, comes from there. It is also a winegrowing district as the climate of Languedoc is fairly moderate.
Then this year, by coincidence, I discovered a French sparkling (champagne) from the same Languedoc region called ‘Lily Pad Pink’ and … the winery itself is called the Arrogant Frog. I know, unbelievable. Even the blurb on the back label says: “Try a taste and discover what a prince this frog can be!”
So of course that is the champagne served at Pond Magic’s book launch.
Can you tell us what your story is about and why you love it?
It’s about a twelve-year-old girl called Lily Padd who can’t stop burping. Fitting in at school is hard enough for most kids without the added embarrassment of webbed toes and skin that’s turning green! And so Lily fears she is turning into a frog.
To make things worse a French exchange student, Rainier, moves into her bedroom, forcing her to share with her little sisters, and Lily’s best friend, Maureen, thinks he’s gorgeous. As Lily side-steps Rainier’s attempts to be friends, her intolerance of him and all things French escalates into a series of laugh-out-loud situations.
I love Pond Magic. It is hilarious, but it also has a deeper more serious layer beneath the humour. As the plot progresses Lily’s character develops from an intolerant, self-obsessed tween to an accepting, tolerant friend with a better understanding of different cultures and a positive attitude towards other languages. The inter-cultural exchanges throughout the story highlight what is happening in schools everywhere when an exchange student arrives.
The value of this experience is what I wanted to express as the underlying theme of Pond Magic. I think the story successfully delivers this theme without being didactic and at the same time engages the reader in a rollicking good yarn.
I had a lovely time. Thanks so much for having me.
Thanks for visiting, Angela. You can catch Angela on tour at these great blogs:
21st October – Stories Are Light – Sandy Fussell –
22nd October – Write and Read with Dale – Dale Harcombe
Review and Developing a Character
23rd October – Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog
Getting Published for the First Time
24th October – Cat Up Over – Catriona Hoy
What Girls Read
24th October – Kids Book Review
Review of Pond Magic
26th October – Tuesday Writing Tips – Dee White
Writing to this Length
27th October – Kids’ Book Capers – Boomerang Books
Review and Where Story Ideas Come From
28th October – Kids Book Review
The Aussie Chomp Format
29th October – Tales I Tell – Mabel Kaplan
Promoting your First Book & Planning a Book Launch
30th October – SherylGwyther4Kids
Once upon a time in a far away place…