Author Spotlight: Kate Foster
August 27, 2021
We are excited to feature author Kate Foster and her middle-grade debut, PAWS (Walker Books, April 2021) Enter to win a copy!
|cover design by Sarah Davis|
Hello! So, I’m Kate, owner of a family made of four boys (husband included here) and two second-hand pups. I’m English and have lived on the glorious Gold Coast in Australia for the past seven years. My life is wonderfully boring, just how I like it, and in addition to reading and writing, I love eating, walking, watching comedy shows, and supporting other authors however and as often as I can. My favorite things in the world, other than my family, are dogs and cake.
I’ve always written stories. When I was a kid, I wrote mainly fantasy and humorous stories for kids. And now that I’m grown up (which frankly is questionable!), I still write for kids, but mainly contemporary novels and magical chapter books. I have tried to write for the teen and adult audiences before, but my voice is naturally for middle grade readers and younger. This makes me think I myself am still about 12 years old, which is fine because I like it here!
Congrats on your debut middle-grade novel, Paws! Tell us about the book and what inspired you.
Thank you so much! What a ride it’s been. Paws is the story of 11-year-old Alex. He’s about to graduate primary school and head to high school (the story is set in Australia before anyone says this is wrong!) and the panic is setting in. Alex is autistic, and change for autistic people can sometimes be overwhelming. But, he has a plan: if he can make friends with the popular sporty kids now, the transition to big school will be much easier, and one of the steps of his plan is to win a trophy at the upcoming PAWS dog show. Things don’t exactly work out how he intended, but this is where his four-legged furry friend Kevin steps in to save the day.
Paws is a light, quiet, and wholesome story based very much on real experiences, which has been compared to Wonder and I, Cosmo (WOW!!!!!). When my family went to meet our first rescue dog, he made an immediate and quite extraordinary bond with my youngest son, who’s autistic. Since then they are quite inseparable and I had to put pen to paper and write about it. I also wanted to write a story about friendship, and how friendships don’t all look the same. I feel children put themselves very much under pressure to make friends and be part of the popular crowd, when actually the people we need around us, who are our perfect match, are already there, quietly being our rock.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Gosh, the longest, windiest, and bumpiest road I’ve ever travelled! I doubt anyone wants all the details, plus there may not be enough space. But yes, I have had agents – plural – plus written several books – plural – and even been offered a few publishing contracts – plural. I’d say I started seriously pursuing traditional publication about ten years ago, though I move at quite a slow and steady pace so my journey has been fairly gradual. I’ve had so many close calls and near misses, some that were frankly devastating and destructive, that I’m sometimes surprised I’m still here.
Thankfully good friends and a love of writing kept me invested, and I’m delighted to say that finding a home with Walker Books, literally the friendliest publishing team in the world, has made the bumps along the way worthwhile.
What are some favorite classic MGs? Recent ones?
A couple of my all time favourite middle grade authors include Enid Blyton and CS Lewis, because these were books I grew up devouring; but more recent books I love include A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Skellig by David Almond, not to mention books by Lisa Thompson, Bren MacDibble, and Kirsty Applebaum. And some books I have to include: Theodora Hendrix by Jordan Kopy, Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera, Alone by Megan Freeman, The Verdigris Pawn by Alysa Wishingrad, Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, and The Gilded Girl by Alyssa Colman. Sorry for going on, but, you know, book love.
What projects are you working on now?
Well, I’m excited to have two new books out next year in Australia, both with Walker Books, which I’m editing and preparing as we speak. The first is The Bravest Word, another MG about a young boy who’s not been feeling himself lately, and on finding an abandoned dog whom he brings home, learns with some guidance from the poor pooch what might be wrong with him – he just needs to be brave and ask for help. The second is a collection of three short chapter books about little Harriet Hound who could very well be the world’s first autistic female superhero – and just wait until you see her super power and superhero outfit!
I’ve just finished writing two new MG contemporaries and a new chapter book series, all featuring autistic main characters, and I’m working on two new MG novels as well. Watch this space for updates!
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same you'd give to aspiring authors?
To enjoy moments more and more often. And yes, I would definitely offer this advice to aspiring authors too. On top of having the journey I did to reach this point in my career, I am one for pushing myself so hard and piling such ridiculous expectations on my shoulders, that I always miss out on celebrating, and I mean properly celebrating as is deserved, all the small wins I’ve had. Even now, though I’m getting better at it, part of me is still waiting for the bottom to fall out, for when this dream bubble bursts, and for some reason adding extra pressure on myself to prevent this happening. It’s silly, and part of my make up, but I’m working so hard to break down this rigidity and barriers.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I honestly can’t think of anything super interesting! I am THAT boring. But also I’m quite an open book on my social media accounts so maybe everyone already knows most of what there is to know. So, I used to play the flute and do gymnastics, was a bit of a tom-boy as a youngster and loved playing football, cricket, and snooker with my brother and the kids at school.
My ultimate dream, when I’m rich from authoring, is to open up a dog shelter in the mountains for all the pooches no one wants, so they can live out their days in peace and comfort.
I also swear quite a lot and love vacuuming – so much so my kids think I have a problem and they might be right as I even have a vacuuming blister on my thumb! I am a creature of habit and watch a lot of the same movies and TV shows most days – it’s an anxiety thing! I love watching English comedy shows and cooking shows, and playing Mario Kart!
Where can people find you online?
I’m ridiculously active on Twitter, like annoyingly active. But I’m also trying to utilise Instagram more and more, though it’s taking time to learn the ins and outs on that platform. My handle on both is @kfosterauthor and I’m always looking to connect with more book-lovers! Other than that, my website is regularly updated with book news and resources for teachers, librarians, and educators. www.kfosterbooks.com I welcome emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) and DMs from authors and readers, and love fan mail and fan art!
Kate is a children’s author and dog lover originally from a small town in England. Her life on the Gold Coast of Australia consists of running around after her family, saying hello to every dog she meets, and eating cake.