It's a pleasure to welcome the lovely Kate Foster to the blog today, to celebrate her newly published debut novel Winell Road. Although a middle grade fiction and picture books writer, Kate is also a freelance editor and proofreader. Originally from a small village in the UK, she now lives on the sunny Gold Coast in Australia with her family.
Winell Road is published by Jet Black Publishing and is currently
available as an eBook. A paperback version will be issued later in the year. 20% of sales are donated to The Australian Literacy and Numeracy
Congratulations on the publication of Winell Road. Could you tell us briefly, what it’s about?
Thank you so much! Here’s a little blurb for you:
Winell Road is the most boring street on Earth and 12 year old Jack Mills is sick to his molars of living there. But when a UFO nearly abducts him outside his home, his life takes a
terrifying and mysterious turn. With the help of his new friend and neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, Jack discovers there's a lot more to Winell Road and his life than he'd ever
Who is your intended audience for the book? Why should they read it?
The book is aimed at readers aged 9 years and over, but competent younger readers would enjoy it too, as would adults, I hope! The book is meant to be fun, that’s it. My aim is to provide readers with some escapism in the form of this light, entertaining sci-fi adventure. So no heavy life lessons, no tears. There’s a little bit of creepy, plenty of humour, shock revelations, and imagination-stretching exercises throughout.
What inspired you to write the story?
My children mainly, but all of my writing is inspired by so many different things. I try to pull on life threads from all around me and weave them together. I’m an observer, and people and their interactions fascinate me. Plus, with this particular story, the ‘we’re not alone’ statement played a huge part. I’m forever freaking myself out thinking about the vastness of the universe, and I watch a lot of programmes about possible government cover-ups involving extra-terrestrials.
Would any of your family and friends recognise themselves in your book?
Probably not. My characters are lots of little pieces of people I know or have encountered all popped into a test tube (my brain) with a catalyst (my imagination), heated over a Bunsen burner (I have no idea what this would be) and voilà.
Please tell us something of how the book was written, from idea to final draft.
I brewed the idea for years; adding and subtracting, multiplying and dividing, bit of Sin, Cos and Tan (I still have no idea what these are), etc. Then I wrote the first draft in about two months. I used Cornerstones Literary Consultancy for some honest but brutal feedback at that point and subsequently threw the returned manuscript and report on the floor, jumped up and down on them, and threw them in a pile of ‘junk’ under my desk. A few weeks’ later I re-read the notes my reader had supplied and, apart from being a little embarrassed about my initial overreaction, knew what I had to do. There were plenty of ‘this is rubbish’ moments, but more ‘squee’ moments as I revised. There were plenty more beta readers from this point, plus heaps of rejections from agents and publishers in between. And then I subbed to Jet Black Publishing…
Most writers have encountered setbacks on the path to publication. Was this your experience and, if so, how did you deal with them?
Wow, yes, setbacks. I’ve had my fair share. Perhaps not as many as some, but enough to have developed a seriously large supply of perseverance. As mentioned, I have a healthy folder full of rejections, but I also have another filled with encouraging words, detailed advice and a handful of acceptances. Winell Road has nearly been ‘born’ a few times, you see, but for one reason or other, things didn’t work out. I can only believe some form of guardian angel had been guiding me, ensuring fate’s wheels kept turning. But positive feedback kept me going. Too many people loved it and saw potential, and not just family and friends.
Tell us more about your Monica Geller tendencies. How does this impact upon your writing?
Do you watch Friends? Monica is a shrill, highly strung, obsessive, neurotic, frighteningly organized control-freak. I’m not quite as bad, but have my moments. In fact, I’m proud that I have a good hold on this side of me. If I didn’t I’m not sure if I would still be married. But it does impact on my writing. If the words don’t flow, or the story is fighting me, I can become very grouchy, very down-in-the-dumps. So, I have lots of things on the go at once, this way, if a specific project isn’t going well, I move away and work on something else.
Describe a typical day’s writing.
For me, there is no such thing as a typical day writing. I have three young children, a husband and a puppy, plus a day job, so I snatch writing time when I can. It sends my inner Monica Geller crazy, but it’s where prioritising has to play a role.
How much research do you do when crafting a novel?
It depends on what I’m writing. I won’t rush or fumble my way through. I like to be accurate if a scene or character requires it, so then I will put as much time and energy in to research until I’m ready.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plopantser. A bit of both. I do plot to a degree, but I prefer to follow where my natural writing brain takes me and the story. Plus, I found some of my books required plotting after I took them as far as my pantser side could go.
What’s your opinion on writer’s block?
My opinion is it’s very real and very horrible. And my only way of combatting it is to write something else and return to it later. Be that a completely new project or a later scene in the same story, I just have to remove myself from that experience and feeling or run the risk of damaging my love of what I do.
You are an editor as well as an author. Can you tell us a little about this side of your life?
Confession time: I prefer editing to writing. I mean, the line is miniscule, you’d need an electron microscope to see it, but working with other authors, understanding their story’s direction, hearing their voice, and contributing to their dream is heavenly. So, spending every day rearranging sentences and scenes, delving into a character’s psyche or a fantasy world’s history makes me a very happy person. When I named my business, I contemplated The Editing Leech, because that’s what I am. To remove me from an author’s writing journey someone would need to douse me in salt until I shrivel up and drop off. Actually, I rather like salt so even that might not work.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Hopefully lots! Winell Road is the first in a series, so I hope the second instalment will follow in the near future. I also write picture books, so maybe one or two of these will make an appearance one day. Plus, I contribute a regular blog for Yatopia, interview authors for Ink Pantry Publishing and write articles for online magazines and websites. I’ll be around somewhere, or on Twitter.
Time now for some random questions:
Hamster or gerbil? Dog. No, if I had to pick it would be a hamster.
The UK or Oz? Evil question. Oz, no UK, no Oz, no UK, no…
Hero or villain? Hero.
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate.
Middle grade or young adult? Middle grade.
Favourite flavour of ice cream? Vanilla.
Boxed set or live TV? Boxed set.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten? And the worst? Roast chicken. Liver and bacon.
Name one bad habit – come on, you must have one! Straightening things, like cutlery, paperwork, bed sheets, book shelves, etc. I like neat lines and right angles. (Great answer, Kate. Would you like to pop over to my house? It could do with a good tidy!)
Thanks for stopping by my blog, Kate. I wish you lots of success with Winell Road and look forward to more books from you in the future.