Another wonderful interview from Sarah Broadley. This time she managed to catch-up with the fabulous Kate Foster to chat about her novel, Paws. You’ll LOVE this one…
1. Your novel ‘Paws’ is out in the UK from 4th August. As an autistic writer, did you create Alex, (your main character who is also autistic) with your life experiences in mind?
Oh yes, absolutely. It’s a mashup of my own experiences, those of my youngest son, and my dogs! So much of my life, so in turn Alex’s, is directly and massively affected by my close relationships, daily encounters, and my immediate environment, and it was essential for me to write about how autistic people are shaped by the negatives, but more importantly the positives. We can learn from sharing the bad, of course, but I believe so much more change can come if we focus on and celebrate the good, ways we can all change and be more accepting. So, yes, I focused on so much of the positivity which over the years has helped me fit in and live a fab life.
2. It’s important for every child to see them in a book, relatable characters and settings are what entices the reader in – representation matters. What has been your dream for Alex’s story?
For autistic kids everywhere to see themselves in a positive, happy, and gentle story with a happy ending. And for all kids (and adults) to step into the shoes of one autistic person for a few days and realise how brilliant they can be if given the chance.
3. Paws was released in your home country of Australia before making its way over here to the UK – what has been the highs and lows of publishing across multiple continents?
I’m English, I lived in Kent for 35 years, so having my debut published in my first home is a dream come true. All the bookstores and libraries that I spent so many hours in as a child now stocking a book I wrote, well, it’s something I hope inspires many kids who are growing up like me to never give up on their own dreams. Australia is of course my second home, so being able to see firsthand the joy PAWS is bringing children, to fully appreciate the difference it’s making to some kids, is hard to describe. It’s been life changing.
The main challenge is not being able to be in the UK, and to be honest other states in Australia (because this place is HUGE!), to meet all the kids, to spread the love personally, to see the joy in faces, and celebrate in-person. But, hey, publishing today, with the power of the internet on my side, makes it all okay!
4. Both the Australian and UK covers are superb – did you have much involvement with the illustrators, Ayesha L Rubio (for UK edition) and Sarah Davies (for Australian edition) finished covers?
Aren’t they gorgeous?! I’m so lucky. I was asked for my input for the Australian cover. I suggested covers of other published books I loved and believed would suit the tone and story of PAWS, and any scenes from the book that I felt encapsulated the core and emotion of the story. I was also shown roughs early on for feedback. But with the UK cover it was a complete surprise when this extraordinary thing landed in my inbox! I didn’t know it had already been designed. Both covers are perfect, so I think it proves that illustrators and designers are LEGENDS!
5. You have another middle grade novel out called ‘The Bravest Word’ – can you tell us a little about that?
Of course! The Bravest Word is a story about 11-year-old Matt who has just started secondary school. He’s a great kid, does okay at school, is good at football, has great friends and a loving family. But he’s noticed over the last few months that he’s not been feeling himself and that his life isn’t as neat and enjoyable as it was. He can’t figure out why or how to talk about it. One day Matt and his dad find a little abandoned dog tied to a tree, and from that day forward, Matt makes it his goal to give that dog all the love it deserves. As boy and dog battle through the good and bad days together, Matt begins to put words to how he’s feeling and knows what he must do to fix things; he just hopes he has the courage to do so. And I hope one day it reaches UK shelves, too.
6. What’s next for Kate Foster?
Well, where do we begin?! I have three books being published in Australia in 2023 – a chapter book and two middle grades (one that I co-wrote with the BRILLIANT Aussie author and my friend Kate Gordon) – and I am hoping and wishing these books also make their way across the ocean to the UK and beyond. I’m coming to the UK in September this year (2022) for a short visit to meet my agent and editor and I cannot wait! I do have other *things* in the pipeline but can’t talk about those yet, I’m afraid, but hopefully soon. All in all, you’re not getting rid of me any time soon!