Doodles and Drafts – A bewitching encounter with Angela Sunde

Hold on to your brooSM.cover.119KBmsticks because today we have someone special visiting. She’s a bit of a drafter and doodler, a fellow resident of the magical Gold Coast and a wickedly wonderful conjurer of stories. Snap Magic is her latest light-hearted, fairy tale inspired fantasy novel about friendship and young girls approaching the precipitous edge of puberty.

She has a predilection for kissing princes, sipping champagne and pumpkin soup, and looks ridiculously cool in witches’ britches.

So grab a goblet of pumpkin juice, sit back and meet Angela Sunde, author of just released Snap Magic and its predecessor, Pond Magic.

Who is Angela Sunde? Describe your writerly / illustrator-self.ASunde.1d.WEB

I aim to be professional in all that I do. If I don’t feel my work is up to industry standard, then it is shelved and I move on to the next project. I am not too precious about my writing and receive feedback and critique with interest and a positive motivation to improve. I am constantly setting myself challenges that are just beyond my comfort zone and experiences. This means I may sometimes undertake more than I should, and then I’m working into the wee hours of the night. I enjoy volunteer work, which supports children’s access to reading, and other writers and illustrators on their creative journey. As an experienced teacher I enjoy mentoring and being mentored.

How do you wish to be perceived by your reading audience; as primarily an author; mostly an illustrator or a happy combination of both?

Angela Sunde ArtMy readers consider me primarily to be an author and engage with me thus. Illustrating is a passion of mine from childhood. I am always returning to it and the urge cannot be ignored. I enjoy small projects, especially illustrating children, and offer ‘Picture Book Children’s Portrait’ commissions. Clients can have their child illustrated as a picture book character to frame. It’s a lot of fun. I’m also working on the storyboard for a new picture book manuscript I just love; it’s very personal to me. Five years in the future I would like to be considered a combination of author/illustrator.

In a past life you were a high school linguistics teacher. How did this shape or influence your writing career? Have you always written? When did you begin drawing?

I taught German from Year 5 to Year 12 for decades. My broad understanding of how we develop language, whether it be our first or our second, has enabled me to write with a clarity, simplicity and efficiency of words. One reviewer of my first book, Pond Magic, called it ‘deceptively uncomplicated writing.’ I wrote poetry and songs when I was young, but I drew from the moment I could hold a crayon. I think it was a picture of my dad on the tractor and trailer, driving through the orchard with a load of fruit on the back.

Snap Magic features Lily Padd, a character we met in your first book, Pond Magic. Can kids read Snap Magic without having read the first one?

Pond Magic 2Yes, nothing is given away. Snap Magic is a stand-alone sequel. Rainier has gone back to France and Lily and her best friend, Maureen, have a new set of problems to face, although the ultra-annoying Rick Bastek is still there.

How long had the idea of Snap Magic been brewing for? What finally ignited its creation?

It hadn’t really brewed. It ignited suddenly when I decided to use a short story I had written called Snap as the springboard for a new Lily Padd story. Snap had been shortlisted for the Charlotte Duncan Award in 2009 and I’d been itching to place it somewhere. Then it was just a matter of brainstorming a plot.

What was the hardest thing to get right in Snap Magic? What aspect of the story’s creation did you most enjoy?

I can’t actually remember anything being too difficult. It’s based on my own experiences in intermediate school in New Zealand. It’s a mid-grade school system where all the students are between ten and twelve – perfect tweens. I did base the mean girl, Ellen, on someone I knew in high school, so I most enjoyed making life difficult for that character. Mwa ha ha… (*evil author laugh.)

I found Maureen particularly endearing. Is she based on a childhood friendship you may have had or one you wished you had? Was there any particular message you set out to convey in Snap Magic to girls of this age?

Maureen is partly me and partly my best friend – strong-willed and determined. She won’t let anyone push her around and she’s staunchly loyal to Lily. That’s how we were.

Messages find their way into books naturally. They can’t be forced. If you are true to the characters, their motivations and goals, the message will float to the top. In Snap Magic Lily learns that trust in others must be carefully placed. Can she trust Ellen? Can she tell Maureen her secret? The other message is that bullying has consequences for the perpetrators, very bad consequences… Mwa ha ha…

Is Lily Padd likely to be involved in any more magical adventures?

I’m thinking, will she ever be quiet in my head? I write Lily’s stories for my own enjoyment and there is a full length novel in progress.

What is your favourite colour? What does this choice reflect about you?

As a child it was yellow. Years ago I went through a low period with my health. I asked my husband to paint our family room yellow and I felt happier straight away. I also find blue so soothing. But I almost never wear either colour. I like to wear red and black because they give me confidence.

Did you ever dress-up and go trick-or-treating as a kid? With your own children? Now? If so, what is your favourite Halloween character and why?

No, I didn’t. But we did throw my daughter a Harry Potter party when the first book came out. Her teacher had read it to the entire class and we had a bunch of very excited little witches sitting on the ‘sorting chair’ desperately hoping the ‘sorting hat’ would call out Gryffindor! The hat’s voice was on a hidden recording made by a radio announcer friend of my sister’s with a very deep and scary voice. Of course he called Gryffindor! Every time.

What’s on the drawing board and or draft table for Angela?

I’m flying down to Sydney at the end of the month for a week’s residency at Pinerolo Children’s Book Cottage as Illustrator in Residence to work on a storyboard for a picture book that is very dear to me. And next year will see me in New Zealand researching a historical fiction novel based on my grandparents’ migrant experiences.

Just for fun question: If you possessed magical powers, which trick or spell would you relish using every day? Why?

Flying. The closest I’ve come to it would be snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, just that feeling of weightlessness, of floating above looking down, so calming. Of course I am scared of heights.

Thank you so much for having me on the blog today. I really enjoyed the questions!

Thank you Angela. It’s been spookily sensational!

Delve into more enticing facts, articles and reviews about Angela and her books here as she brooms about her Snap Magic Blog Tour. Just click on this banner for full dates and details. Snap Magic Banner

Red Pedal Press October 2014

 

 

REVIEW OF POND MAGIC

It’s hard enough being a twelve-year-old and having to deal with teasing from the school bully because your parents have given you the unfortunate name of Lily Padd.

But when Lily is forced to give up her bedroom for the French exchange student and share with her younger and annoying twin sisters, she thinks that things can’t get any worse.

Unfortunately they do. For some inexplicable reason Lily Padd is turning into a frog and unless she does something about it soon she’s going to be spending the rest of her days hopping around the house eating flies.

Pond Magic, is an hilarious new Chomp from Penguin. It is the debut novel of author, Angela Sunde. Angela is also a talented illustrator but for Pond Magic, the quirky illustrations have been drawn by Lisa Coutts.

There’s a great sense of comedy in this book and plenty of tension as Lily’s symptoms increase daily. First it’s the burping, then the webbed feet, the green skin tinge and the frog like wart. But when Lily starts thinking that flies look appetizing she knows she’s really in trouble.

Lily is a great character as are her best friend, Maureen and the mysterious and attractive exchange student Rainier le Dauphin de France.

Chomp lovers will enjoy the humour, action and hint of romance to be found in Pond Magic. This is a cleverly-crafted and well written first novel.

More about Angela and her work can be found at www.angelasunde.com Lisa’s website is currently being rebuilt but you can find her details at

THE MAGIC OF POND MAGIC

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.

Hi Dee,

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 –
Review
http://www.sandyfussell.blogspot.com

22nd October – Write and Read with Dale – Dale Harcombe
Review and Developing a Character
http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/

23rd October – Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog
Getting Published for the First Time
http://sallymurphy.blogspot.com

24th October – Cat Up Over – Catriona Hoy
What Girls Read
http://catrionahoy.blogspot.com

24th October – Kids Book Review
Review of Pond Magic
www.kids-book-review.blogspot.com

26th October – Tuesday Writing Tips – Dee White
Writing to this Length
http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com

27th October – Kids’ Book Capers – Boomerang Books
Review and Where Story Ideas Come From

28th October – Kids Book Review
The Aussie Chomp Format
www.kids-book-review.blogspot.com

29th October – Tales I Tell – Mabel Kaplan
Promoting your First Book & Planning a Book Launch
http://belka37.blogspot.com

30th October – SherylGwyther4Kids
Once upon a time in a far away place…
http://sherylgwyther4kids.wordpress.com/