Harry Potter hijinks at writers festival courtesy of Professor Falconette

By Dionne Christian , Dionne Christian

Harry Potter fan Nadia Sunde has created Professor Francesca "Frankie" Falconette to continue the magic of J.K. Rowlings' stories.
Harry Potter fan Nadia Sunde has created Professor Francesca "Frankie" Falconette to continue the magic of J.K. Rowlings' stories.

Performer Nadia Sunde has a job likely to make Harry Potter fans green with envy.

Sunde, a singer, actor, children's book author and playwright, reading advocate and radio presenter in Australia, is also an official ambassador for the mega-successful book series. She plays a character called Professor Francesca Falconette at Harry Potter book events.

When publisher Bloomsbury offered her the job, Sunde did a dance of joy in her kitchen.

"They're such rich stories and getting to spend time with Harry Potter fans, or those who are just being introduced to the stories, is very special."

Professor Falconette is a character of Sunde's own creation devised in accordance with guidance from Bloomsbury and author J.K. Rowling. Sunde says she's a steampunk kind of professor who aims to get youngsters hooked on reading rather than giving them a lecture.

"For me, the best part of all of this is engaging with the children who tend to be completely in the moment and swept up in the story."

Born and raised in West Auckland, Sunde moved to Australia when she was 13 and has made quite a name for herself as a "multi-platform artist". She still found time to babysit her niece, though, and it was by reading the books to her that Sunde discovered the world of boy wizard, Harry Potter.

"I was about 20 and my niece was 11 and we happily jumped aboard the Hogwarts Express Train as a family. We all read the books and would get together and talk about them."

Naturally, Sunde was fairly devastated when J.K. Rowling ended the books but has found comfort in spin-offs like the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the Pottermore website. A mother of two daughters, she's excited that they're now interested in the books.

Does she have a favourite character? Sunde doesn't hesitate in name Ginny Weasley, the sister of Harry's best friend, Ron, and, later, Harry's wife.

"In the books, she's incredibly witty and hilarious and someone I would want to be friends with but I might like to hit Dolores Umbridge [a Ministry of Magic bureaucrat]. I can't stand that woman! In fact, I may even dislike her more than Voldemort because she pretends to be nice!"

Nadia Sunde appears at the Auckland Writers Festival Family Day on Sunday. Other events include storytelling and readings by local and international authors including Apirana Taylor, Toby Morris and Lauren Child. Events are free but ticketed.

The lowdown:
What: Auckland Writers Festival - Family Day
Where & when: Heartland Festival Room and Herald Theatre; Sunday

- NZ Herald

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