What inspired you to write Zadie Ma and the Dog Who Chased the Moon?
This novel is a special love letter to my very first dog, Rusty, who my grandfather found wandering around lost at the Victoria market in Melbourne. There’s a photo of my grandfather, Rusty and me in the front of the book, and the dedication reads ‘For Rusty and all the dogs who never found their way home.’
Rusty was a Golden Cocker Spaniel and had one blind eye. He was my best friend for nine years. But one day, while I went on holiday with friends, my parents took him with them to the beach where he wandered off. I never saw him again. I hope with all my heart that he found a new family to love him.
Which character do you relate to most, and why?
I relate to Zadie the most because she is very much like me when I was a child. My family used to live on top of a shop like Zadie and her family do, and while Zadie likes to write stories, I liked to draw. She’s also shy and a little afraid to stand up in front of her class. I remember those times only too well. But most of all, Zadie wants a dog of her own which was my greatest wish until I got Rusty.
Which scene in the story was the most fun to write (or draw)?
I always like writing the final chapter. By that time all the threads have been tied up neatly in the previous chapters and now it’s just a matter of leaving the reader with a sense of contentment and fulfillment, and perhaps even joy. I also really enjoyed illustrating the graphic novel sections.
What message do you hope readers will receive from Zadie Ma?
There are many themes in this novel: friendship, diversity, Chinese culture, racism, bullying, war, courage, hope and connectedness. But above all, it is about the power of story – how they can change you on the inside and impact the world around you. Only by reading can a reader be inside the head of someone else, someone who may be of a different culture or way of life to their own. In this way, a story can give one a feeling of empathy, as well as of belonging.
Gabrielle Wang is an author and illustrator, and the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2022 to 2023. Born in Melbourne of Chinese heritage, her maternal great-grandfather came to Victoria during the Gold Rush and her father was from Shanghai. Her stories are a blend of Chinese and Western culture with a touch of fantasy.