Friday, June 26, 2015

As promised last month, YAtopia puts middle grade author Angela Sunde under the Guestopia spotlight.

Welcome Angela, we're so pleased you could be with us today.

On your marks, get set, GO!

Is this your first published book?
This is my second book. My first, Pond Magic, was published by Penguin Australia in their popular Aussie Chomps series. I am also the illustrator and co-author of The Coral Sea Monster – winner of the Write-a-Book-in-a-Day award, 2011.

What’s it called?
Snap Magic is the name of my latest release.

Which genre?
It’s a mid-grade urban fantasy.

Which age Group?
8-12 years

Is it a series or standalone?
It’s the sister book to Pond Magic featuring the same character, Lily Padd. In Snap Magic – a bewitchingly funny coming-of-age story about secrets, bullies and pumpkin soup – Lily once again finds herself in an embarrassing situation needing magical intervention to set straight.

Are you an agented author?
No, I am not.

Which publisher snapped up your book?
Snap Magic is published by Red Pedal Press, a small indie publisher.

How involved have you been in the whole publishing process of your book?
100% involved; I am the publisher. Snap Magic went through an intensive editing and design process with a high-level, professional editor (former senior editor at Penguin Australia), and the highly experienced book design team at Book Cover Cafe.

Do you have another job?
No, I work full-time as an author/illustrator, writing judge, speaker and teacher.

Did you receive many, if any, rejections prior?
Though my editor at Penguin loved it, Snap Magic was not accepted, as they had just closed the Aussie Chomps series. Then, because of its Aussie Chomps length, Snap Magic didn’t fit other publishers’ lists.

What created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked up on you?
Snap Magic began life as a short story based on an embarrassing experience I had at school as a tween. The short story was then short-listed in the Charlotte Duncan Award. The idea to use Snap as the springboard for a light-hearted children's novel resulted in Snap Magic 's longlisting in the Greenhouse Funny Prize 2013 for unpublished manuscripts.

How long did you plot/plan until you started writing it?
Not that long, perhaps a week. Having the short story as a base kick started a wealth of ideas for the plotline.

Once you started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it into submission?
It flowed very quickly as I followed my outline, and I was already familiar with the main characters, so it was a lot of fun to write.

How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?
My husband and daughter read the first draft as I wrote it. I was laughing so hard when I finished each chapter that I just had to share it with someone immediately.

Did you employ an editor/proofreader or did you have a critique partner/beta readers before you started querying?
I have two critique partners who offered feedback. When the manuscript was ready for submission, I received a Regional Arts Development Fund grant, and then employed my senior editor from
Penguin Australia to edit the manuscript and a professional copyeditor to triple check.

Roughly how many drafts did it take before you sent the manuscript off into the real world?
About 3-5.

How many drafts until it was published?
At least another three with the editor, and multiple more with the typesetter.

Has the book changed dramatically since the first draft?
No, very little.

Are there any parts you’d like to change even now?
None whatsoever.

What part of writing do you find the easiest?
The easiest part of writing for me is when I am in ‘the zone’. I visualise scenes with ease. I also love editing language – all parts of the narrative.

What part do you find hardest?
Right now it’s the structural edit of my work in progress.

Do you push through writing barriers or walk away?
I push through. There’s no other choice.

How many projects do you have on the go at the same time?
Usually three: a picture book/ illustrations; a novel; and an idea I am thinking about or researching. Sometimes that makes for a rather scattered and unproductive day of creating, so I have to remain disciplined and focused.

Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?
Writing is a craft that requires a strong dose of creativity. Creativity can be nurtured and craft can be taught.

How many future novels do you have planned?
Besides the one I am writing, I have two others in mind; one is set here on the Gold Coast where I live, and the other is a historical novel set in New Zealand.

Do you write other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?
Yes, I blog – – and I occasionally write short stories and poetry as the whim takes me. I recently had three poems exhibited at Bond University as part of the Bleach Festival, and one of my YA short stories has been published in an anthology.

What’s the highlight of being published so far?
It is most definitely the other creatives I have met and become friends with. My life is so much happier and fulfilled.

Give me five writing tips that work for you.
1. Give your main character a problem they must overcome.
2. Know your characters’ weaknesses and then exploit them.
3. Jump right into the drama and action.
4. Keep writing even when it sucks.
5. Don’t share your story with critique partners too early.

And one that doesn't.
Trying to reach a daily word count – writing can also be about thinking what you’re going to write. It’s not always about the number of words.

Can you give us a clue or secret about the next book?
It’s based on a fairytale involving a red cape.

What question have you always wanted to be asked but never have? What would the answer be?
Q. Why are my stories based on fairytales?
I majored in German literature and language at uni and one of my favourite papers was the study of the Grimm Brothers’ Fairytales – I still have my yellowed, aging copy in pride of place on my bookshelf. I believe the tradition of oral storytelling is a human trait that supports our need for understanding the world we inhabit. We still tell each other stories from our lives; nowadays it’s called reality TV.

Snap Magic really is a super story, perfect for a child to read alone, or even better to share with an adult. Thank you so much for joining us today, Angela. It's been a pleasure finding out more about you.

If you'd like to know more about Angela and her books, here are the all important links!

Author Website
Red Pedal Press
Book Depository

Please join me next month when I interrogate the fabulous Fleur Ferris!


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