Sunday, April 10, 2011

Interview: Nansi Kunze (part II)

Aussie author Nansi Kunze has kindly (and meticuously) answered my questions. I've been a fan of hers since I read her first published YA novel Mishaps (previously which I held a giveaway for). Dangerously Placed (which I reviewed here) is her second YA novel which was released in March 2011. Hopefully, there's more to come from this awesome author in the future. You can read part I of the interview here

How much do you see yourself in Alex, the main character of Dangerously Placed?

Not that much, oddly enough! Like most authors, I do think that my major characters have aspects of my own personality in them – Alex has some of my mannerisms and speech patterns, for example. But I wanted Alex to be a bit more of an ‘everyman’ character than the people around her (hmm … that should probably be ‘everygirl’, shouldn’t it?), so I found it easier to express some of my own quirks in the other characters. Ki, in particular, was really easy and fun to write – I’m sure that’s partly because I’m a bit of a nerdy Goth myself. And there’s also the fact that Alex is a really skilled gamer, which is not at all like me (there’s a reason I was playing Animal Crossing and not Tomb Raider when I thought up the story)!

Did you base Ki and Sky (Alex’s best friends), Inge and Budi (Alex’s workplace mentors) on people you know? How far do you exaggerate real life personalities for your characters?

I don’t think I consciously base characters on any one person I know – they’re usually more an amalgamation of traits from lots of people. When I’m planning a novel, I start off with a vague idea of a few central characters I’ll need, and then I go and look for their names. I like to make sure my characters are from lots of different cultural backgrounds; my friends are from all sorts of backgrounds, so I feel my protagonists should have friends like that too. I have a file on my computer with lists of names from various cultures, and I go through them looking for the right name for the character I’m creating. Sometimes finding a name that interests me gives me an idea of what that character will be like, right then and there. There are some characters who’ve just seemed to arrive in my head pretty much fully-fledged, though – I think that happens to a lot of authors. Presumably our unconscious minds base them on aspects of various people we’ve seen or known. Although I sometimes exaggerate characters’ responses for humorous effect, I actually think it’s not necessary most of the time. My characters’ weirdest comments and most outrageous actions are quite often taken straight from things I’ve really seen people do. While I’m not sure I’d say that truth is stranger than fiction, real life can certainly give fiction a run for its money at times!

Have you ever done work experience (university internship or high school)? What was it and what was it like?

I did two work experience stints in Year 10, and they were both pretty lame, to be honest! I went to the local radio station and did stuff like timing the new records with a stopwatch so the DJs would know how long the tracks ran (this was in 1990, and they were still using vinyl). After that I spent a week at a high school not far from my own school and followed a teacher around. Looking back, I really don’t know why I bothered – my parents were teachers, so I knew what went on in staff rooms, and I could see what it was like to be in a high school class any day of the week! The only fun I had there was one morning when my mentor didn’t turn up at work. I was waiting in a Year 7 English class, and when she didn’t show, I just decided to teach the kids myself. I took out my English textbook (who knows why it was in my bag!), read a short story from it and then quizzed them about it. They were much keener to impress a Year 10 student than their regular teacher, so it was great. Well … until the senior staff found out. Apparently it’s far preferable to leave a bunch of kids chucking stuff around the classroom and go tell the Vice Principal your mentor is missing than to engage them in literary discussion!

What is one thing that you fear due to the advancement of technology?

For the most part I think the advancement of technology is a positive thing. Despite having read a fair bit of old-school sci-fi, I’m not a big believer in the whole computers-take-over-the-world view! I guess the main thing that could be a worry is the environmental impact of increased technology, but there are a lot of areas that are clearly of more crucial concern in terms of the environment. If anything, advancing technology gives us the ability to learn more about the consequences of our actions and to see what the rest of the world is like, which seems like a good thing. I think technology is like anything else: it’s not what it could do, it’s what we decide to do with it that’s important.

Thank you Nansi for your super engaging and fantasic answers! You can also visit Nansi's blog here.

1 comment:

The Chicken can see you >_>