Please say a big HELLO and welcome Kate Foster to the blog. A woman of many talents (as you’ll see in question number one below), who works on a variety of projects at any given time, Kate graciously gave me a few moments of her time and answered some questions about herself and her newly released, middle grade novel, Winell Road. But, before we get to the fun stuff, take a look at that beautiful cover and the blurb for Winell Road. I must say, my boys are already dying to read this (me too!)
Twelve-year old Jack Mills lives at 5 Winell Road and probably has the world’s weirdest neighbours. Like freakishly weird. And to top it off, he lives with Mum: nosy, interfering, a hideous cook, and Dad: unsuccessful inventor of the Camera Belt and Self-Closing Window. All in all, it’s a boring, embarrassing, dead-end place to live.
So when Jack arrives home from school one day, a close shave with a UFO is the last thing he expects. But the fact it doesn’t abduct him, and that no one else, not even Mum, sees the gigantic flying saucer hovering over the street, adds a whole new layer of strange.
Soon after, an alien encounter threatens Jack’s life and he becomes embroiled in a galaxy-saving mission. With the assistance of his new neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, he discovers Winell Road is hiding secrets—secrets Jack might wish he’d never uncovered.
RECOMMENDED INDEPENDENT READING AGE: 9+
Now for the fun stuff.
Kate, please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a writer of children’s fiction, obviously, mainly middle grade novels and picture books, although I do have a chapter book series I’m working on — when I get time! I’m a freelance editor and proof reader, and volunteer my time for Ink Pantry Publishing (part of the Open University in the UK) proof reading articles and interviewing authors. I’m originally from a small village in the UK but now live on the Gold Coast in Australia with my family.
My children, mainly. The main character is based on a mixture of my two eldest sons. But I find inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere to make up my novels as a whole. In the case of Winell Road, an awesome scene from one of my favourite movies (True Lies – the bit where, after Arnie and his wife are captured, he then explains what the bomb is and Jamie Lee Curtis is like, ‘WHAT? But you’re just a sales rep!’) gave the wheels the push they needed, and from this the story grew.
I have boys and from reading the blurb, it sounds like something they’d both enjoy. Do you feel Winell Road is a gender neutral book or does it mostly cater to one or the other?
I have boys, too, so I guess, understandably, I wrote this initially with them in mind. But in truth the book will certainly appeal to both boys and girls. Although the protagonist is a boy, Jack, his new neighbour, Roxy Fox, is a feisty, confident and fascinating girl, as well as being frighteningly tall, and she shows Jack how to 1. have fun, and 2. believe in himself.
What was the most difficult part of writing this story?
The first draft. I’m not afraid to admit that I despise them. I have all these grand ideas and vivid scenes playing out in my mind like movies and translating them into words can be a struggle at times. And I don’t like getting things wrong, so when I write something that I know isn’t portraying the imagery perfectly, I get extremely cross with myself and the world.
Is it a standalone or will it become a series?
It’s the first in a series. The second book is written, the third is plotted out and ready to write. One day.
Do you have a writing process?
Not really. I write when I have spare moments, and I have to admit I have numerous projects on the go at the same time – so I could be described as a messy writer. But all these ideas have to come out of my brain straight away or I will forget them, and I absolutely hate writer’s block. It makes me feel low – not good – so I like to be able to move away to another project if this happens. I’m yet to experience writer’s block on all my projects at the same time, but if I do, I will most definitely start something new!
Are you currently working on anything else?
Yes! I have a handful of picture books in various stages of the editing process, some out on submission to agents. I have the second in the Winell Road series to polish, and another unrelated mid grade I’m editing. Mix that in with various articles and blogs, and I think that’s probably enough!
You’re also an editor. Can you tell us your favorite thing about editing?
The entire process, to be honest. There isn’t a part I can say I dislike. I love rearranging sentences and paragraphs, scenes and chapters, and even entire storylines, until they run smoothly and sing to the reader. And pair that up with getting to know new authors every day and watching their careers go from strength to strength is pretty close to bliss for me.
Is there a message you’d like your readers to get from Winell Road?
No, not really. Is that bad? If they do then that’s great, if not, I just hope they’ve had a ball and want to continue with Jack on his adventure. I want them to experience what I did as a child when I read Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree books and The Wishing Chair series; magic.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Enjoy as much of the process as possible, NEVER give up, and listen to advice. Whether you take it or not is up to you, but get as much feedback as you possibly can from as many people as you possibly can and at every stage of the book’s life.
And now a few favorites, just because I’m nosey 🙂
Color – Brown
Time of Day – Bedtime
Food – All of it
Book – Can I have two? The Uninvited by Liz Jensen and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Hobby – Writing!
Season – In England it was spring, in Australia it’s winter.
Holiday – (Does this mean a trip I’ve taken abroad? If yes…) Andalucia in Spain.
Type of Music – I love a good bop, so dance music