Today we have Kate Foster on the blog with us, author of Winell Road: Beneath the Surface which released on April 30th 2015 from Jet Black Publishing. I “met” Kate during another contest but this year we’re both mentors in Pitch Wars, which is so awesome! What’s even better is Kate giving away a copy of her new book to one lucky commenter on the blog, so make sure you read the details at the end of Kate’s awesome interview!
Winell Road is Kate’s debut novel about 12 year-old Jack Mills, whose boring oh-so-boring life becomes anything but when aliens, UFO’s, and town secrets come to light! Winell Road is sure to become a favorite, with a whopping 4.6 stars on Goodreads and 4.7 stars on Amazon. But don’t take my word for it, check it out!
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 imagined.
Isn’t that cover to die for? Okay, I’ll stop fangirling and, without further ado, ask some slightly difficult writerly questions!
- First, let’s talk about your debut novel, Winell Road! I’m always curious to know what triggered the idea for a story! How did Winell Road come about, and which came first—the premise or the main character?
The premise came first. And it was actually created in reverse. The final scenes came from one of my favourite moments in one of my favourite films (True Lies), and I wanted to recreate the same shivery goose bump wow moment. A shock revelation that, hopefully, kids don’t see coming. The protag, Jack, is a mixture of my sons – not overly confident, doesn’t ‘stand out’ from the crowd, but has huge reserves of courage, amongst other qualities, he doesn’t know about.
- What’s one juicy fact about yourself readers may not already know? And please, provide tons of details!
Juicy? Well, I don’t know. I think everyone knows I emigrated to Australia from the UK last year, so that’s probably lost most of its juice. Erm…I used to be a gymnast so I’m quite bendy. I can still do the splits, although getting up afterwards isn’t quite so easy.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I’d like some video evidence… 😉
- What does a writing day look like for you? Do you have any habits or quirks you can share with us?
Well, I’m an editor and also a mum of three boys, dog owner and wife, so I rarely get time for my own writing. If I find any at all, it’s late at night or during a week off. My desk is an organised mess; I eat a lot while writing first drafts (I hate them) and drink heaps of tea – English breakfast, one big sugar, milk – so imagine wrappers and mugs dotted amongst notebooks, dictionaries, scraps of paper, and piles of novels.
- Tell us more about your editing services!
Although words have been my life for so long, the decision to become an editor professionally was quite a recent revelation. So, I’m pretty new to it. I work with authors at all stages of their careers, and on most categories and genres. There are some I don’t accept, like picture books and historical, though.
I have also been a part of several writing competitions. First, the p1blitz and c1blitz: two YA writing comps run by Freshly Squeezed reads where I critiqued page 1s and chapter 1s of unpublished manuscripts. I was also a slush reader for NestPitch: a pitching contest for authors where teams of ‘experts’ chose certain authors to work with, improve their submissions and then pitch to agents. And this year I am a MG mentor for PitchWars!
- What do you do when you’re faced with “no-writing-feels”—those days all writers face where we’re certain we’re not meant for this writing-thing?
Oh those. Mmm. I have them ALL the time, and they affect me in different ways depending on my mood at the time. Some days I just turn my back and decide never to write again, other days I repeat my mantra, ‘You are a published author, You are a published author’! And some days I shrug, say whatever and crack on.
Now to show off my hard-hitting journalism skills—try to contain your laughter as I adjust my sleuth’s hat!
- We hear a lot about the intense revisions writers go through with their editors once the manuscript has been acquired. Can you share what the revision process was like for you and Winell Road?
Wow, revisions went on and on and on…and this was before I’d even signed with Jet Black! I think, when my manuscript went to them it was actually in pretty good shape because I’d already paid for two professional manuscript assessments from a very reputable company. There was still a tonne of edits for Stephanie to go through, though! Some so hideous, I would never be able to tell anyone about them! But it wasn’t a particularly long and drawn out process. In fact, I love editing so much I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
- One of the least written about topics is the submissions process itself. Can you share more about your publishing journey with Jet Black? How did you stay sane while you were in acquisitions or waiting to hear back from other submissions?
My submission experience lasted a while. I have a rejection folder; it’s large. But, dotted amongst those rejections were a healthy number of full requests, interest and offers. Each and every one was a buzz to receive and definitely kept me positive, thinking that maybe I wasn’t such a bad writer after all! But, sadly, some avenues turned in to dead ends, others ended in contracts I was advised not to accept, and two small presses actually shut their doors soon after offering (for a while, I did wonder if maybe I was a curse). I just kept writing, more and more and more. Every day, writing something, anything. And, if it wasn’t for the incredible writing community on Twitter, I’d probably have given up.
- What were a couple of your biggest surprises about the publishing process?
Two things really. One: an offer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be published. And two: agents and editors are a lot more approachable than a debut writer is led to believe. I mean, I’m sure not all are, but certainly the ones I corresponded with were.
- If you could whisper in the ear of the writer reading this, what one piece of wisdom would you share with them?
Listen to the advice people give you about your writing. Don’t necessarily rush off and make lots of changes as per their feedback, but listen. Don’t get upset or angry or instantly decide they’re wrong and they have no idea; advice about this most precious thing – your book – needs time to sink in, to make sense and to lose its, sometimes, sharp edge. You will get you know-it-alls, but most people in the writing community are there to help.
I have to jump in to comment here! This advice is gold. No, not gold. Platinum.
- What’s next for Winell Road and its illustrious author?
Ha! I like that! Well, there is a book two; written, but in desperate need of some editing – and I mean, desperate! And then there might just be a book three after that. But this kinda come back to the time issue. I NEED MORE.
Kate Foster is a freelance editor and author of middle grade fiction. Originally from a tiny village in the south east of England, she now lives on the Gold Coast in Australia with her three sons, husband and spoodle puppy – the weather is much better there.
TIME TO TALK ABOUT KATE’S AWESOME GIVEAWAY!
A copy of Winell Road is up for grabs to whomever offers the best answer to this question: What book should Kate read next and why? Just leave your suggestion in the comments.