Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Little Bit of Pond Magic

Writing for Girls...

Today, I'd like to welcome Angela Sunde to my blog to talk about her new book, Pond Magic, which is one of Peguin's Aussie Chomps series. Angela has a love for languages and previously worked as a teacher. She now works as a children's writer in the beautiful Gold Coast hinterland, where she lives with her family, her manx cat, two cockatiels and three bush rats in the compost heap. In 2009 she was awarded 3rd place in the CYA Conference 'Illustrated Picture Book ' category for Chee Chee and Mia and two of her childrens stories were short-listed for the Charlotte Duncan Award. Pond Magic is Angela's first published children's book.

Lily Padd, an intolerant, self-obsessed 'tween', finds her relationships with her family, her best friend and a French exchange student are made all the more difficult by a little magic and a lot of burping.

Fitting in at school is hard enough when you're small and your mother drives a beaten-up old French car, without the added embarrassment of turning green.

Hi Angela, great to have you here as part of your blog tour for Pond Magic. Firstly, can you tell us what the target reading range is for Pond Magic?
Pond Magic is one of the Aussie Chomps series published by Penguin Australia. Aussie Chomps are targeted at the 8-12 year old market.

The book's main character is a girl, do you like writing stories for girls in particular?

The main character, Lily Padd, is the sort of girl I was at twelve. At that age problems seemed unsurmountable and I would worry about the smallest thing. For Lily, the problem of being unable to stop burping causes all sorts of hilarious consequences and Lily’s reactions to these challenges and embarrassing situations show a strong personality which the target readers (girls or boys) will be able to relate to. When I wrote Pond Magic I didn’t feel I was writing a story especially for girls.

What are the challenges in writing books for girls... do you see these as being any different from writing stories for boys?

Stories for girls focus more on relationships with peers and while girls will ‘cross over’ and read stories for boys, the opposite is not generally common. Perhaps boys don’t want to be seen with a pink-coloured book in their hand. But if girls are reading boys’ books, I’d ask - why? Is it because they’ve run out of girls’ books in the library? I doubt it. Perhaps it’s because boys’ books for the 8-12 year old market are generally fast paced and packed with physical problems, action, drama and humour. They are hard to put down.

I don’t approach writing for girls differently to writing for boys. When writing Pond Magic I was influenced by the boys’ books I had read. Those are the stories I enjoy and buy, not because the protagonist is a boy, but because they reflect the interests of many girl readers too. One of the most successful girls’ cross over series is Deborah Abela’s ‘Max Remy Super Spy’. At twelve my son was a huge fan and it wasn’t until I pointed it out to him that he realised Max was short for Maxine. So, girls can do anything.

How old are your children and do they play any part in your writing or editing processes? eg do they read the stories and comment?

My daughter who is now eighteen is one of my critique readers. I rely on her opinions. She has a good eye for detail. My son, fifteen, won’t read my work until it is finished and edited.

What strategies do you have for making the 'voice' authentic?

Each character’s voice is unique and the children cannot sound like mini adults. I have been a teacher for many years, teaching in primary and high schools, and I spent a lot of time in conversation with my students and was privy to a lot of tween talk. As a writer you have to ‘speak’ from the child’s perspective. Their views on everything from burping in public to trying to fit in with their friends will be very different from my own. Adult wisdom does not exist and they may make rash choices.
The action tags which accompany their speech help to add authenticity to the dialogue too and I include internal monologue throughout so the reader is aware of Lily’s thoughts and opinions. For example, for the first half of the book she never addresses or refers to the French exchange student, Rainier, by name, but in her thoughts she makes up all sorts of nicknames for him: Raingauge, Raincoat, Dolphin Boy. As Lily becomes more tolerant she begins to call him Rainy and then finally Rainier. This helps to show her development as a character. Lily’s voice is not just about what she says, but what she doesn’t say too.

What is next for you, Angela?

I’m working on the illustrations for a picture book I have written and I have nearly completed a junior novel. I’m looking forward to visiting schools to talk about Pond Magic and the writing process and I give workshops on writing and illustrating. I’m also collaborating on a picture book project with my sister, who is a children’s playwright and songwriter. I’m very excited about the future.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Catriona. I enjoyed my visit!

You're welcome. Good luck with Pond Magic ...and I hope all goes well for both you and Lily.

For more about Angela and Pond Magic, you can visit her blog at

Or.... visit some of these other blogs as Angela tours the blogging world.

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

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…

Please leave a comment if you've visited, to encourage both Angela and me!