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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gemini, Kimberley, Paris, Nida and Marwa Interview Gabrielle Wang

Gabrielle's image from her website
Two years ago Gabrielle Wang was kind enough to answer some questions from my students who had  read her wonderful book A Ghost In My Suitcase and now, she has gone and done it again, for another group! Thanks for paying a second visit to the Great Raven, Gabrielle - I have learned even more this time! Gabrielle writes gentle, touching novels for young people with characters you can care about and in this one, her adult character, Por Por, is strong and comforting, the sort of grandmother you want whether it's to care for you or scare away ghosts!

General questions 

What was the first book you ever wrote?
The first book I wrote was The Garden of Empress Cassia. Before I wrote that book I didn’t know I could write a story.

How long have you been an author?
I’ve been an author for twelve years.

How old were you when you first started writing?
I remember making a tiny book with illustrations when I was about six years old because I always loved drawing.

How many books have you written?
I’ve written twelve books.

Questions about A Ghost In My Suitcase

How long did it take you to write this book? (And how long does it usually take you to write a book?)

A Ghost in My Suitcase took about 2 years to write. My young adult novel, Little Paradise took 3 years to write but most of my books take around 2 years. 

Where did you get the idea for this book?

A Ghost in My Suitcase is a prequel to one of my other books called The Pearl of Tiger Bay. In that book there is a minor character - a ghosthunting grandma, Por Por. She was such a strong character in The Pearl of Tiger Bay I felt I had to write a whole book about her.

  Why did the mum die so early in the book and how old was she when she died?

It was necessary for me to get Celeste to China by herself so she could meet with Por Por and learn the ghosthunting traditions without the rest of the family. By having her mother die it gave Celeste a sadness right from the beginning of the story and a purpose to go to the Isle of Clouds. 
Celeste’s mum was about 43 when she died.

Were the names of the characters based on people you know? (or were any of the characters based on real people? SB)

Celeste was the name of my cat when I was a child. Apart from that one, all the other names were invented for the book.

 What inspired the "fat belly?"  

The name came from a gangster who lived in Shanghai in the 1930’s. 

Who is the girl on the front cover? Was she chosen by audition?
The girl is my niece, Belinda. We had to take a lot of photos to get one for the cover.   
She is now studying Fashion Design at RMIT and makes and sells her clothes on Etsy. Here’s her site if you want to take a look at her clothes.

Was A Ghost In My Suitcase written for kids, teens or adults?
It is written for 8-12 year olds but I hope it is enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Would you think about turning this book into a movie? (and who would play the lead roles? SB)
I’d love to turn all my books into movies. I’m not sure who could play the lead as it would have to be someone of mixed race – half Chinese, half European. There’s nobody I can think of who’s a well known actor. We would have to audition someone new for the part. 

Tell us about your latest book
It is about two extraordinary children – one raised by the magical Wishbird and the other, an orphan in the City of Soulless. When the Wishbird becames gravely ill, Oriole must leave her forest and find a cure for him. It is for readers 10 and up.  

What are you working on now?

I’m writing another series for Our Australian Girl. It’s an exciting adventure story about a girl called Pearlie who lives in Darwin and witnesses the bombing of the city during World War Two.  

If you'd like to read more about Gabrielle, here's the link to her website, which has some great stuff on it, not only about her books, but her life and her art - as well as a wonderful writer, Gabrielle is also a terrific artist!

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