Story vs Character – Snap Magic Angela Sunde
Welcome and warmest congratulations to my lovely and very talented writer friend, Angela Sunde, on publication of her latest book Snap Magic, another exciting Lily Padd adventure. Angela is visiting From Hook to Book today both to celebrate the launch of Snap Magic and to answer one of my favourite questions of writers – Story or Character – name your bliss, please, Angela?!
Hi there, Chris. Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. I’m very excited to be discussing ‘story versus character’ with you, as both plot and characterisation compete for attention in Snap Magic.
Lily Padd is a gorgeous character, Angela, and the kind of girl many teens would want as their best friend. Lily’s story is fun and humorous woven into a plotline full of secrets, bullies and twists – not to mention pumpkin soup. As a fellow writer, I’m keen to know whether you write from character or plot?
I always begin with a character and a problem. In my Aussie Chomp, Pond Magic, Lily couldn’t stop burping. In this new book, Snap Magic, Lily has a problem (amongst others) that is out of her control – long black hairs keep sprouting from her chin. From there I immediately leap into plot, mind mapping various scenarios and reasons behind Lily’s sudden facial hair with possible solutions – the crazier the scenario the better. This is why I enjoy placing the element of magic in my books; it makes anything possible within a believable world. Once I have a skeleton plot on paper, the focus on character jumps back in. How Lily, her best friend Maureen, classmates and family react and behave in each scene becomes the thrust that pushes the story forward.
Was it the story idea or the character of Lily that led you to write a sequel to Pond Magic?
An interesting question. I think it was the character of Lily. She is such a strong, and (as my editor says) ‘sparky’ character who simply did not go away. Her timid avoidance responses to difficult situations in the beginning of Snap Magic evokes empathy from the tween reader and makes Lily very relatable. But the worse things become for her, the stronger Lily’s will to get to the bottom of things. Her character develops resilience through the story; she still braves the Halloween Dance in spite of the mean girl Ellen’s threats.
Is character or plot the biggest driver of Lily’s story in Snap Magic?
Plot and character sit side by side in Snap Magic. Each takes a turn to drive the story. Characters like the witch, Mrs Swan; the teacher, Mr C; and Lily’ s parents, who constantly embarrass her with their habit of pushing pumpkin soup and Snap ‘n’ Snack plastic ware onto all and sundry, add to the colour and fabric of the plot. Without them it wouldn’t work.
How do you most connect with Lily? Do you and she have any similarities or shared experiences?
I knew you’d ask me this! Am I Lily? Just a bit. I write from a twelve-year-old’s perspective. It seems to be where my narrative voice is most comfortable. Walking along with my back to the wall as a mid grader? Yes, that was me. Waiting till Mum was in the toilet to tell her stuff? Yup, me. I remember the discomfort and embarrassment of being twelve and the changes I was going through. And it seems I’m not the only one.
It’s a big undertaking to self-publish a book. When and/or how did you know that Lily was up for another adventure? And what excited you to go on the journey with her?
I had a team of high-level, industry professionals work on the book with me through a grant from the Regional Arts Development Fund, which validated it’s worth as a project. My editor for Snap Magic is my former senior editor at Penguin Australia (Pond Magic). My book designer is a highly experienced industry designer. I am the author and illustrator.
Snap Magic, as a unpublished manuscript, had received very positive feedback from my Penguin editor, when she advised me the Aussie Chomps list was closed. Snap Magic was also long-listed for the UK Greenhouse Funny Prize with a full manuscript request. Other trade publishers wished it were longer, but its Aussie Chomps length meant it did not find a home. What’s more, I wanted Snap Magic to be a sister book to Pond Magic with the same editor and no name changes. The only way to achieve that was to create my own publishing imprint, Red Pedal Press, and employ my own team of professionals.
Plus both my editor and I loved the story as it was.
Consequences are a big part of this story. Do you see consequences as a natural progression of the plot points or more connected to character motivations?
Thanks for asking this. We mulled it over quite a bit during the editing process. With two class bullies (one overt and one covert) consequences were a very important aspect of the plot. My editor and I didn’t want readers to feel the bullies had not had to deal with any consequences for their actions. My long experience as a teacher of this age group gave me insight and knowledge, but I also double-checked everything on government websites. For the bullies, the consequences are a natural and real result of their characters’ actions and motivations. The magical consequences of Mrs Swan’s solution are an integral part of the plot too and add to the humour and final hilarious climax.
Lastly, we all really want to know – are there further adventures on the horizon for Lily and her friends?
It’s ever so tempting to pop out another Aussie Chomp length novel about Lily Padd. Twelve thousand words seems to be the perfect length to integrate enough drama, hilarity and plot twists into my characters’ lives. Can I do it? Yes, the formula is in my magic recipe book. And with Snap Magic also being available as e-book, it has opened new avenues and platforms for me to reach my readers. So why not?
Thanks for having me on the blog, Chris. I loved chatting to you.
Thank you so much for stopping by From Hook to Book, Angela, and sharing both your and Lily’s journeys and how writing from character and plot influences a writer’s story. Best wishes for the rest of your blog tour and more magical adventures.
About the Author:
Angela Sunde is the author of the light-hearted fantasy novels Snap Magic, and Pond Magic (an Aussie Chomp – Penguin Australia.) Awarded a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Fellowship in 2013, Angela represents the Gold Coast as a committee member of the Queensland branch of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is the editor of the Redlands City Council’s ‘Junior Redlitzer Anthology 2014.’ Formerly an award-winning language and literacy teacher, she is also a children’s writing judge and offers workshops at libraries and schools. www.angelasunde.com
Join Angela and Lily Padd on their tour of the blogosphere:
Monday 13 October Kids Book Review http://www.kids-bookreview.com
Tuesday 14 October Sheryl Gwyther http://sherylgwyther.wordpress.com
Wednesday 15 October Robyn Opie http://www.robynopie.blogspot.com.au
Karen Tyrrell http://www.karentyrrell.com
Thursday 16 October Alison Reynolds http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au
Friday 17 October Chris Bell – From Hook to Book https://christinemareebell.wordpress.com
Saturday 18 October Boomerang Books Blog http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au
Dimity Powell http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/
Sunday 18 October Sandy Fussell / The Reading Stack http://sandyfussell.blogspot.com.au http://thereadingstack.blogspot.com.au
Monday 20 October Aussiereviews http://aussiereviews.com
Tuesday 21 October Dee White http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com
Wednesday 22 October Angela Sunde’s Blog Tour Wrap Up http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au
Fascinating interview, Angela and Chris. Interesting that you find writing as a 12 year old a very natural thing to do. That seems to happen to many writers. HOpe Snap Magic is a huge success.
Thanks, Alison. Perhaps that ability to get into the 12-year-old head is what being a children’s writer is all about. 🙂
Beaut interview Chris and insightful as always Angela. In the words of Le Petite Prince – life is a matter of consequence.
Thanks, Dimity. And for mentioning The Little Prince – one of my all time favourite reads.
Thank you, Alison. Perhaps it’s because I never grew up. I also love reading the upper mid grade novels.
Hi Dimity! Yes, and there is a lesson to be learnt in Snap Magic, delivered with the subtlety that only Mrs Swan’s magic-gone-wrong can achieve.
Great post and both interesting questions and answers. Really enjoyable reading.
Hi Corinne, Thank you so much for stopping by on the blog hop. Chris’ questions were spot on. I was hoping someone would ask me about Snap Magic’s strong characters and fast-paced, carefully crafted plot.
Thanks, Corinne. Look out for “Snap Magic”, it’s a great read too. 🙂