Sofie Laguna originally studied to be a lawyer, but after deciding law was not for her, she moved to Melbourne to train as an actor. She is now an author, actor and playwright. Her first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, published throughout Europe, the US and the UK, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Screen rights have been optioned and Sofie has completed the screenplay. Sofie’s second novel for adults, The Eye of the Sheep, won this year’s Miles Franklin Award and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize.
Sofie also writes for children. Her many books for young people have been published in the US, the UK and in translation throughout Europe and Asia. She has been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Award, and her books have been named Honor Books and Notable Books by the Children’s Book Council of Australia.
Sofie lives in Melbourne with her husband, illustrator Marc McBride, and their two young sons.
I never really had a career in law – I studied law at the University of NSW when I finished school, but I left to pursue a career in acting. I trained as an actor at the Victorian College of the Arts, and then I went on to work as an actor for many years.
I wrote my first text for a picture book in 2000 and as soon as it was accepted for publication I never looked back. I was a writer from then on, and it felt right. I was less self-conscious and self-critical as a writer – I loved the independence and the solitude and the creative control. It’s a very satisfying life.
The greatest difference for me, between writing for children and adults, is that when I write for adults I don’t have to protect my reader from some difficult and ugly truths. It is open territory, and I really love that. But essentially all the writing comes from the same place. And the same principles remain important; I still have to work just as hard, apply the same discipline and care for my craft.
I think everything is shaping my work at the moment; every film, every song, every book and poem that I read. Relationships are shaping my work, suffering and struggle is shaping my work, nature, people – every aspect of daily life. It all goes through some complex inner filtering process without me having to think about it or control it, then it comes out through the work in surprising and unexpected ways.
If I think very specifically about books and ways they might have contributed to my writing (I always think of the book as being the inspiration rather than the writer; I don’t know if that’s wrong or right, but it’s as if the book is a separate thing with its own soul) it would be: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery when I was younger, then when I was older: Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Arundhati Roy’s, The God of Small Things, and Monkey Grip by Helen Garner. And most recently, Marilyn Robinson’s books, Home, Housekeeping and Gilead.
Thank you, Sofie Laguna!
— Nicole Melanson
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