Hold on to your broomsticks 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.
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?
My 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.
Yes, 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!
Red Pedal Press October 2014