Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

Image. Advertisement:

Lana Spasevski on ‘A Sprinkle of Sadie’

Sadie loves to bake, but sometimes things don’t go to plan. In her new junior fiction series, A Sprinkle of Sadie (Affirm, April), Lana Spasevski explores the power of food and community through the creative and determined titular character. Spasevki shares with reviewer Lian Hingee the inspiration behind Sadie, her own memories of food and family and why Billie B Brown would be welcome at Sadie’s table.

With the blue streak in her hair, her love of baking and her Asian-Australian heritage, Sadie Le is a breath of fresh air in Australian junior fiction. Did you base her on someone you know in real life?  

When writing, I draw from my childhood experiences and the experiences of my children who are around Sadie’s age. I went to a tiny school in Sydney and met my best friend during English as a Second Language (ESL) reading class. We instantly bonded through our shared experience and stayed best friends for all our primary school years.  

My friend was always so kind and strong-willed, always stood up for what she thought was right and was the first to raise her hand to help—just like Sadie! She was also obsessed with treats. She used to share coconut buns with me, which I loved. Sadie is also very much a reflection of today’s generation of kids. I can especially see Sadie’s community-mindedness and eagerness to help others in my daughter’s circle of friends. As for the bright blue streak in her hair, kids that are Sadie’s age are starting to learn to express themselves, and this along with Sadie’s mismatched fashion sense is her special way of showcasing her individuality. 

A Sprinkle of Sadie really drives home the importance of food in bringing families and communities together. Do you have any special dishes that you make? 

Food is at the heart of my childhood and my family now. I have such strong memories of making a traditional Macedonian handmade spiral filo and cheese pastry called Maznik with my mum. Watching my mum prepare the dough by hand, stretching it out with her and hiding a coin in the pastry for good luck on New Year’s Eve was the highlight of my summer holidays as a child. Now I make the same dish and repeat this treasured tradition with my own daughters. It’s incredible how one delicious flaky pastry can connect me to my childhood, my family and my cultural background. 

If Sadie were going to invite three other characters from children’s fiction over for a tea party who would they be and why? 

First, Sadie would invite her best friends, Arlo and Amber. The twins are inseparable so in Sadie’s mind this would count as one invitation! A tea party wouldn’t be any fun for Sadie without her sweet-obsessed friends who are always inspiring her baking. Sadie would then invite Billie B Brown. The two girls are so strong and determined and would definitely be good friends if their worlds came together. Finally, Sadie would invite Jingwen from Pie in the Sky so she can learn more about his incredible menu of cakes. I can see the kids connecting and sharing chocolate raspberry tortes, Neapolitan mousse cake and apple mille-feuille. It would be a delightful celebration of baking and friendship. 

When things don’t go to plan for Sadie, she always manages to think of creative ways to fix the problem. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had to take an unexpected detour that ended up being even better than what you’d planned? 

A Chilean volcanic ash cloud back in 2011 ensured that I was grounded in Tasmania for seven glorious days. Rather than trying to work from an ‘internet cafe’ until flights resumed, I decided to do something for myself and just enjoy the unexpected opportunity to be spontaneous and explore one of the world’s most enchanting places.  It was the first time in 10 years that I stopped and gave myself permission to dream and write. I now make an annual and planned writing pilgrimage to Tasmania. I credit that inspirational week in Tassie as the start of my hugely fulfilling writing journey. 

Without giving too much away, what’s next for Sadie and her family? 

There is so much that lies ahead for Sadie and her family. The food will get bolder and more exotic. We will get to meet more of the kids in Sadie’s life both at school and outside of school. Sadie’s confidence in her ability to help others and the community grows as does the size of her bakes. I can’t wait to share what’s next for Sadie! Readers won’t have to wait too long, the second book in the series, A Spoonful of Sadie, will be released in August this year.  

Read Lian Hingee’s review of A Sprinkle of Sadie here


Category: Features