'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 28 October 2010

Blog Tour - Angela Sunde

Kids Book Review warmly welcomes new author Angela Sunde on her spectacular blog tour for the launch of her new book Pond Magic! We hope you enjoy this very interesting post on writing to the Aussie Chomps format. Get your pencils ready, everyone!

The Aussie Chomp Format

I never set out to write an Aussie Chomp. The focus for me was the story itself. I find it is the story which dictates the genre, not the other way around.

Pond Magic started off as a tale about a girl called Lily Padd, whose problem (besides her name) was her inability to stop burping and her fear of turning into a frog.

Originally it was to be included in a fantasy anthology for my writing group. But once the plot unfolded before me and the characters started to develop, it was obvious Pond Magic was not going to be a short story; yet the language was too difficult for a chapter book and it was too short to be a junior novel. Even when looking around for a competition in which to enter my manuscript, nothing seemed to fit.

During an editorial consultation with Narelle Oliver at the Queensland Writers Centre in 2008, she felt Pond Magic would make an ideal Aussie Chomp. The format of between 10,000 - 12,000 words and the target readership of 8-12 years were perfect.

The wacky sense of humour in Pond Magic would appeal to the tween demographic. And the themes of friendship, tolerance and bullying addressed their concerns about fitting in, looking older and being accepted by their peers as they approach adolescence. Although Pond Magic is marketed to girl readers, it also includes enough action, hilarity and gross situations to entertain boys of this age, too.
This is a difficult age group to write for. Getting the voice just right can be tricky. Besides having taught in both primary and secondary schools, I sometimes think the writer’s voice inside my head is still only twelve years old. I remember very clearly my intense feelings and thoughts at that age. I was concerned about each small thing, drama appeared around every corner and my emotions were high.

In 2009, I wrote a short story about my sandwich being flushed down the toilet in Year 7 and it was short-listed for the Charlotte Duncan Award. So there you go – some good eventually came out of all the drama.

For those who are searching for their own tween voice, it may be found by eavesdropping on train conversations at around 3pm most days or reading the online comments left by young people on various youth sites.

Aussie Chomps are very popular and fill the need for shorter, interesting stories that zip along at a quick pace, are enjoyable to read and more challenging than a chapter book. Within fewer than 12,000 words there is no room for anything that is not absolutely essential to the plot, the character development or the humour/world of the story; so editing needs to be very tight and consistent.

It’s important to be concise and economical with the language used also, but it’s not necessary to simplify the language. Readers of Aussie Chomps are able and competent. Essentially, an Aussie Chomp is like a short junior novel.  When cutting back my manuscript to the required length, I had to delete more than 3,000 unnecessary words. The sentences became crisper, the adjectives more precise and the words literally bounced off the page – or maybe that’s ‘hopped’.

Writing and editing Pond Magic was…well, magical. The twelve year old writer within me laughed out loud at the comic situations my characters found themselves in, and I was so eager to share what I’d just written that I would often ring my sister and read her the latest chapter over the phone.

Working with the editors at Penguin also made the whole experience from initial acceptance to final edit a pure joy. They are a large publishing house with a personal touch.

About Angela

Children’s author and illustrator, Angela Sunde grew up in the Oratia Valley on the outskirts of Auckland, New Zealand, and takes delight in writing and illustrating stories that inspire the dreams of children everywhere.

Formerly an award-winning language teacher of primary, secondary and tertiary education, Angela set out four years ago to become a published children’s author. It was during one of the many workshops she attended in 2008 that a chair was accidentally dropped on Angela’s head.

When she came to, this moment of serendipity landed her a one-on-one editorial consultation with the workshop presenter, who in turn recommended Angela’s story to the editors at Penguin.

Also a talented illustrator, Angela gives workshops on writing and illustrating for children and is currently working on a picture book mentorship and writing a junior fantasy novel. She lives in the beautiful Gold Coast hinterland with her family, a manx cat, two cockatiels and three bush rats in the compost heap.         

Follow Angela on Tour!

21st October – Stories Are LightReview                                
22nd OctoberWrite and Read with DaleReview and Developing a Character
23rd OctoberSally Murphy’s Writing for Children BlogGetting Published for the First Time
24th OctoberCat Up OverWhat Girls Read
26th OctoberTuesday Writing Tips – Dee WhiteWriting to this Length
27th OctoberKids’ Book Capers – Boomerang Books – Review and Where Story Ideas Come From
28th OctoberKids Book Review – The Aussie Chomp Format
29th OctoberTales I Tell – Promoting your First Book & Planning a Book Launch
30th OctoberSherylGwyther4Kids – Once upon a time in a far away place…