Author Spotlight: Kate Albus
|© Jennifer Riley Photography|
We are thrilled to feature debut author Kate Albus and her middle historical novel, A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON (Margaret Ferguson Books), coming out on Feb. 2! Enter to win a copy!
|illustration © Jane Newland|
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I came to writing fiction for children via writing non-fiction for adults. As a research psychologist for many years, I wrote a lot of scientific journal articles but never considered writing creatively until I attended a dear friend’s workshop and absolutely fell in love with the process of sitting down and putting words together. There was a story idea rattling around in my head and I squirreled myself away in an upstairs room to work on it. For a good hundred pages or so, I didn’t even tell my husband and kids what I was doing. I just enjoyed immersing myself in a world that was all my own. Years later now, that secret story is about to make its way into the world!
Congrats on your debut MG novel, A Place to Hang the Moon! Tell us about the book and what inspired you.
A Place to Hang the Moon is about Anna, Edmund, and William Pearce, three orphaned siblings who hope that the World War II evacuation of London will be their chance at a forever home. The seed for the story was planted years ago, when I was a child. Reading C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I was utterly fascinated by the event that sent the Pevensies to the professor’s country estate – the evacuation of London. I know I should have been most impressed by the magical universe Lewis created, but it was the real-world event that stayed with me, even though it’s only mentioned in passing! ‘Edmund’ was my nod to Narnia.
Your characters read some great classics. Did you read all of them as part of your research? What are some of your favorite classic MGs? recent ones?
I think I did read them all! Yikes, maybe not Murder on the Orient Express? I’m not sure if I’ve actually read that particular Agatha Christie novel or if I’ve only ever seen the movie! But yes, I’ve read the others. Several of them I read as a child. Many of them I read to my own children. And a few I read in the process of writing the book. That was one of my favorite parts of the research process, actually – figuring out which books would have been available to children in England in 1940. I almost feel guilty picking a favorite, but if forced, I’d have to say A Little Princess. I swooned for that story. And recent ones? The list is long! The books I love best are the ones that make for good read-alouds. Anything by Kate DiCamillo, Jonathan Auxier, or Emily Jenkins. And I’ve loved reading the other middle grade debuts coming out in 2021. The MG reading community has a lot to look forward to this year!
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
This whole publication journey has been such a gift, from start to finish. I suppose I went through the usual number of rejections (a lot!) before signing with my dear and wonderful agent, Kathryn Green. From there, my contract with Margaret Ferguson Books at Holiday House happened quite quickly. And I’m nothing but grateful for the chance to work with Margaret. It really has felt like living in a dream for the past year and a half. And now that the book is almost here, it’s a little scary… in a good way… sending my baby out into the world!
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on another middle grade historical novel. Like A Place to Hang the Moon, it’s set during World War II, but this one takes place in New York. I’m still in the relatively early stages with it, but I’ve fallen in love with the characters, which feels like a good first step!
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?
I guess I’d tell my younger self that it’s always okay to try something new. After spending so many years writing scientific journal articles, I think I assumed that a person could either do that kind of writing or the creative kind, but not both. Which, in retrospect, is ridiculous. So I suppose I’d give that advice to aspiring authors as well: try new things. I’d also encourage them to get involved in the writing community in whatever ways they can. Getting to know my fellow 2021 debuts has been by far the best part of this wild publishing ride. I feel like I’ve made some lifelong friends, and it’s been great to have hands to hold along the way.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Oh wow. Well, my friends and family know this, but I don’t think I’ve ever confessed to the writing community that I’m a singer. A hugely shy one, but a singer. Church choir, high school choir, college choir… even a couple of opera workshops along the way. And my love for musical theater is beyond words. My husband tells me I missed my calling doing Disney princess voice-overs. Although I suppose given that whole ‘try something new’ advice, maybe it’s not too late?!
Where can people find you online?
Thank you, Kate! Be sure to pre-order her book!
Kate Albus is the author of A Place to Hang the Moon (February 2, 2021 from Margaret Ferguson Books at Holiday House). Kate is originally from New York, but now lives in rural Maryland with her family. She was a research psychologist for many years before stepping away to be with her children. Other than writing, her favorite activities are reading, knitting, baking, and other pastimes that are inherently quiet.
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