Melinda Szymanik has been a writer of children's fiction across a wide range of ages for over fifteen years with many publications to her name. Her first novel was completed during an NZSA mentorship and she is now herself a mentor for this programme. Her picture book The Were-Nana (Scholastic, 2008), illustrated by Sarah Anderson, won Children’s Choice at the 2009 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards, and she also won Librarian's Choice at the 2014 LIANZA Awards for her junior novel A Winter's Day in 1939 (Scholastic, 2013).
Recipient of the University of Otago, College of Education, Creative New Zealand Children's Writer's Residency in 2014, Melinda was also granted a University of Otago Wallace Residency at the Pah Homestead in 2015. She recently completed a Diploma in Children's Literature from the University of Canterbury (2015), following on from a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English Literature awarded in 2004.
Melinda has been on the NZSA's Youth Mentorship Selection Panel twice, convening the panel in 2015. She blogs regularly on books and writing, runs writing workshops for children and adults, and regularly visits schools as part of the NZ Book Council's Writers in Schools Programme. Her latest picture book, Fuzzy Doodle, illustrated by Donovan Bixley will be published by Scholastic in June.
Can you please tell us the positive, sad, and interesting things that occurred while you wrote the book.
1). Something positive was learning so much more about my father’s childhood. I knew some of the major events but writing the book helped me join the dots between them and I felt closer than ever to my dad.
2). Something sad was knowing how bad conditions were and how much he had had to endure.
3). Something interesting? That so many Polish people were deported out of Poland by the USSR and became this incredible diaspora that even reached New Zealand.