Review Blog

Mar 01 2013

Interview with Angela Sunde by Fran Knight

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Adelaide, February 18, 2013.
Teacher's College in New Zealand in the 70's, like Australia, had a bond system.Those who were the recipients of education department bursaries for university degrees meant that once you completed your studies you were bound to the education facility for a number of years. Fortunately when Angela Sunde completed her training, teaching jobs in New Zealand were scarce, and so her bond was revoked, giving her the opportunity to apply for work in Australia. Another happy emigre was welcomed to our shores adding to our cultural achievements.
First work was in Melbourne, where temperatures range from 14C to 34C just in one day, as a secondary teacher of German. Angela was heavily involved in the Goethe Institute, winning a scholarship to Germany to work and study. Back in Australia, she and her husband decided to move to the Gold Coast after her mother and siblings moved there from New Zealand. Here she worked for several years, but having children meant reducing her time in schools, so she worked in primary schools for some years, developing an empathy and understanding of younger children and their reading needs.
But changes here, meant that she no longer felt happy, having to teach in two schools with reduced time given to languages, so she took a TAFE course in writing for children and has never looked back. Finding something you are passionate about is most gratifying and within this genre of children's literature, she was able to tap into her inner self and write.
Pond Magic, her first novel for upper primary students was published in 2010, and another in the same series, Aussie Chomps, was written but unfortunately missed the boat, that wonderful series having been shelved by Penguin.
In Pond Magic, 12 year old Lily notices that her face is changing colour. Later she notices that her feet are becoming webbed and now and again a croak emanates from her mouth and she wins the breast stroke race at the school swimming carnival by miles. What to do? When her family, the Padds, take on an exchange student from France, Lily finds a neat solution to her problem and all is resolved.
The light touch of Lily's story is part of its charm. The continuing puns on all things green, webby and French are pitched at just the right level of humour for this age group and I for one, reread the story hoping there would be a sequel.
Moving to the Gold Coast meant that Angela was also able to access the events aimed at helping emerging writers. She has been to the CYA Conferences in Brisbane each year since its inception six years ago, listening to the authors and publishers speak about their work, while having access to publishers and being able to pitch her own work. At these conferences many budding authors are able to get a publisher interested in their work, and see how their work sounds while talking to others. Through these conferences too, Angela has made some wonderful friends in the writing and illustrating world.
Awarded one of the 2013 May Gibbs Fellowships, Angela has been able to stay at the apartment in Norwood, meet fellow authors and illustrators in Adelaide, and meet some of the publishing world here. Working on her next book, The Blue Tutu, Angela was grateful to have spoken to Dyan Blacklock, allowing her to see her story from a different perspective and with renewed vigour.
Angela spends some of her time volunteering for organisations using illustrating as a forum. The event, One Word - One Day sees a group of illustrators given one word to use as the basis for an illustration during the day. The illustrations are taken to Sydney where they are auctioned and the money so raised goes to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. This is backed by the Australian Society of Authors. She and the writers' group in the Gold Coast to which she belongs, Prana Writers, entered the 'Write a Book in a Day' competition recently. A hellish task, but Angela and her group won the day! (won National First Place in the open section and raised $980 for the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane)
I asked Angela about her blog, which can be found here, as it seems to me that many authors spend a lot of time on their blogs, possibly taking time away from writing. She agreed, but admitted that lately while in Adelaide, she had been posting a short piece each day on her blog, while she usually limits it to one post a month.
For more information about Angela Sunde see here and on the Puffin website.
Fran Knight

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