Once upon a time in a far away place… PART 1

In conversation with Angela Sunde, Australian children’s author …

“I love fairytales. There’s something timeless and classic about their stories. Pond Magic is proof of this – a thoroughly modern setting and cast with a familiar ring of magic and message.” Angela Sunde

The Frog Prince..illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

My guest today is children’s author, Angela Sunde. Angela is a fellow Queenslander and good friend who lives in a beautiful part of the country, the Gold Coast hinterland.

With her first novel, Pond Magic firmly under her belt, Angela is living her own personal fairytale – to become a children’s author. Her book for 8-12 year-olds is one of this year’s Aussie Chomps, Penguin Australia’s successful and highly-sought after imprint.

Rather than interview Angela or get her to write an article for my blog, I’ve decided we should have an online conversation. So she has no idea what direction I might take, and neither do I! Who knows where this will end up?

SG:  Hi Angela! Welcome to my blog. I’m just pouring out our cups of tea. Help yourself to a biscuit and get comfortable.

AS:  Hi Sheryl. I’m so excited to be here today to talk about one of my favourite topics – fairytales! And it’s always great to chat with you.

SG:  Likewise! Congratulations on the release of Pond Magic, Angela. I loved it – clever, witty, funny and a story kids of that tween age will love. I also love its link to fairytales – that’s why I’ve titled this blog conversation Once upon a time in a far away place… I suspect you (like me) thrill at the sound of those words and the wonders they may hold.

AS: Absolutely true, Sheryl. It takes me back to my childhood and the beautiful illustrations which accompanied the fairytales. They were my only picture books. I remember loving the Little Golden Books version of Little Red Riding Hood too. I can still see her face under the red cape.

Angela Sunde

SG:  When I was a girl, I treasured two lovely thick books of tales from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, but they were lost in one of our many house moves. I remember how so many of the stories were filled with tales of horror, cruelty and sadness. But we still lapped them up? I wonder why?

AS:  I guess we knew they weren’t true, just as kids today know the difference between reality and fantasy.

SG:  Like the Brothers Grimm stories – some of them are absolutely terrifying!

AS:  The Grimms’ fairytales were intended for both adults and children – that’s why they’re sometimes horrifying. Did you know they were originally called Kinder und Hausmaerchen? That means ‘Children’s and Household tales’ – the whole family would gather around the hearth to hear the re-telling of these stories. Then, like Chinese Whispers, the fairytales would change with each re-telling and so often villages ended up with a different version of the same tale.

SG:  So with Pond Magic, you’ve carried on that Kinder und Hausmaerchen tradition?

AS:  I can’t help putting fairytale elements into my writing! Fairytales have always been a part of my life. I had a running joke with a friend when we were in our 20s about The Frog Prince … that you have to kiss a lot of toads to find the handsome prince. Eventually I did find Rob, but her’s turned out to be a toad!
In Pond Magic, when I gave my character Lily Padd the problem of being unable to stop burping, the logical reason behind this had to be what I call ‘fairytale logic’ – she must be turning into a frog! In fairytales, anything can happen: people do magic, animals talk, fairies marry princes, small children enter the world of giants and frogs can turn into princes.

SG:  I just discovered (research can be very useful!) that the Grimm Brothers’ version of The Frog Prince was quite different to the English version I knew as a child. The original German fairytale had the princess (a bit of a nasty girl, to be sure), after putting up with the frog knocking on her door and then sitting on her pillow for three nights, throws that poor creature to the floor in a temper. That’s when he changes into the gorgeous prince.
The English translator of The Frog King, Edgar Taylor altered the title and revised the ending, replacing the Grimms’ violent resolution with one of passivity. Apparently, ‘the English readers of the 1820s could not accept a heroine who throws her frisky bed companion against the wall’.
Angela, your Croatian ancestry goes back 400 years, and you speak five languages. Have you noticed similar cross-cultural differences between other well-known fairytales?

AS:  Croatia used to be a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire up to WWI, so the European folktales of the Brothers Grimm are well-loved there too.
The Grimm fairytales were stories they collected on their travels around Germany. Jacob Grimm said this about the origin of the fairytale: All these are neither devised nor invented; they are a distillation of the oldest popular beliefs.
The brothers were interested in the historical roots of the stories as much as the stories themselves. And some are much older than many myths of gods and heroes. It’s not unusual then to have violent resolutions in the original tales.

Perrault's version of Cinderella

In the original Cinderella, for example, the first step-sister cuts off her toes in order to fit into the slipper (which is gold not glass) and the second sister cuts off her heel. The French translator Perrault also added mice and pumpkins to Cinderella, which did not exist in the original.
The sensibilities of the time (1800s) caused these changes as the stories grew to be just for children and not adults as well.
The children of the Middle Ages used to watch hangings at executions the way our kids go to the movies – violence was a part of life.

SG:  Oh no! We’ve run out of space…looks like we’ll be chatting again tomorrow?

AS:  Sounds good to me, Sheryl See you bright and early on Sunday morning. 🙂

CATCH UP WITH US AGAIN TOMORROW for Part 2!
We’ll bring you more about fascinating fairytales and writing stories in the next episode.
Angela will also share her fairytale-writing formula for writing your own modern day fairytale.
And as an extra bonus: Angela and I will face-off in THE FAIRYTALE PLAYOFF competition! Who will win?

Illustration of The Frog Prince, courtesy of childhoodreading.com

Angela also appears on other blogs during her blog tour for Pond Magic. Check them out:
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
http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/kids-book-capers-blog
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/31st October – SherylGwyther4Kids
Once upon a time in a far away place… PART 1 and PART 2
https://sherylgwyther4kids.wordpress.com/

Share

Advertisements
Posted in On writing | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

‘Pond Magic’ blog tour coming tomorrow!

AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR, Angela Sunde‘s new Aussie Chomp book, Pond Magic (for 10-12 year olds), has just been released. The book will have its very own blog tour via the sites of other Australian authors below.

Pond Magic

This site will also host Angela and Pond Magic onthe 30th October. Tune in for a fascinating interview with Angela about fairytales -v- modern stories for young people.

POND MAGIC BLOG TOUR DATES:
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
http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/kids-book-capers-blog
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…
https://sherylgwyther4kids.wordpress.com/

Share

Posted in On writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A most unusual book … Skellig

There’s a book that keeps disappearing from its spot on the A-J shelves of our local high school library – a small novel that been smuggled through the security bars at the library exit. Skellig by British author, David Almond has had to be replaced at least three times.

So why is this particular book so ‘theft-worthy’? Is it the beautifully designed cover in tones of blue, white, black and fawn shafts of light and movement? Or maybe the Celtic lure of its title, or the intriguing blurb on the back cover? Or is it the magic of the story itself?

Skellig (1998) was British author, David Almond’s first story for children. It’s written in first person viewpoint of a young boy, Michael who is unhappy when his family moves to a ramshackle house in a new neighbourhood.

Michael’s parents are distracted because his new baby sister is gravely ill and this adds to his feelings of isolation and loneliness. But then he meets the unusual Mina, home-schooled and a loner, a girl who quotes William Blake and knows everything there is to know about birds.

Their lives change forever when Michael wanders into the derelict shed in his back yard and discovers under the rubbish, a crumpled, shrivelled creature that could be human or beast or both:

‘I thought he was dead. He was sitting with his legs stretched out, and his head tipped back against the wall. He was covered in dust and webs like everything else and his face was thin and pale. Dead bluebottles were scattered on his hair and shoulders. I shone the torch on his white face and his black suit.’

Michael confides in Mina and they move the strange creature into a safe place. As the barely alive part-human/bird/angel responds to Michael’s gentle care both he and Mina are drawn into the wonder that is Skellig.

This brilliant novel has won many awards, both UK and international. It’s also been made into a play and a movie was made from the story.

David Almond said once that he wanted ‘to write for a readership whose minds are still fluid and flexible, readers who are able to easily mix reality and imagination’. But it’s not only young readers who are captivated by the story of Skellig. His skill as a writer is evident in this thought-provoking, haunting tale of friendship, love, life and death – a book to own and treasure. Just like all of Almond’s books.

Not that long ago I checked the shelf again in The Gap High School library … and yes, the copy of Skellig had disappeared again. No, I’m not the culprit! I’ve got my own copy of the novel and maybe I’ll start reading it again (for the third time) today.

Other books by David Almond include Kit’s Wilderness, Heaven Eyes, Secret Heart, The Fire Eaters, Counting Stars, and Kate, the Cat and the Moon, Clay.

PS I want to see the movie of Skellig! Has anyone else seen it?

Share

Posted in On writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Charlie and the Red Hot Chilli Pepper – OUT NOW!

My second chapter book this year is out NOW!

Charlie and the Red Hot Chilli Pepper is published by Pearson Australia in their new Primary School fiction series, CHAPTERS. It’s suitable for 8-9 year olds.

To purchase copies: CLICK HERE

Share

Posted in On writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

FANGUS FEARBOTTOM Competition Winner!

And the winner of the Fangus Fearbottom competition is:   Harriet C from Euleilah, a small country town in Queensland.
Harriet wins a copy of Princess Clown.
Her prize includes: one of the characters in my story, Fangus Fearbottom – The Problem with Bananas will have the name of Harriet.

Runner-up:   Joshua (from the Prep/1/2 Superkids group)
Joshua’s name will be used as a character’s name in the Fangus story as well.

CONGRATULATIONS TO HARRIET AND JOSHUA, and to ALL THE OTHER CONTESTANTS.

Thank you all for participating!

Share

Posted in On writing | Leave a comment

‘Animals as sidekicks’ – day 7 on blog tour

Sidekicks abound in literature, on the stage and in movies – think Samwise Gamgee to Frodo Baggins, Dr Watson to Sherlock Holmes and one of my very favourites, the dæmon, Pantalaimon to Lyra Silvertongue in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials’ trilogy. Pantalaimon is the cautious and level-headed counterpoint to Lyra’s impulsive, inquisitive, and sometimes reckless character.

Sam, sidekick to Frodo.

If you want to read more check out my guest blog, “Animals as sidekicks” on Australian author, Sandy Fussell’s site is on this topic.

If you write stories, who are the sidekicks you use? In literature and movies who are your favourite sidekicks? Leave a comment.

This is Day 7 of my blog tour for the launch of Princess Clown. If you would like to read the other guest blogs and interviews, check out the topics.

Sandy Fussell is the author of the Samurai Kids series, the recently published Jaguar Warrior, Polar Boy and heaps more of exciting, interesting kids’ books. Check out her work!

Share

Posted in On writing | 1 Comment

COMPETITION!! Blog touring with ‘Princess Clown’

To celebrate the launch of my new chapter book, Princess Clown we’re heading around the country to appear on different writerly blogs – either with interviews or guest blogs. See the list below.

Princess Clown

New Release!

Today, we’re on Kat Apel’s blog – Kat is an Aussie children’s author; her picture books include the very popular story, This is the Mud!

The blog post today includes a competition for youngsters. Check out Kat’s blog for the details.

Share

Posted in On writing | 2 Comments