Kate Forsyth is one of Australia’s best-loved fantasy authors and was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 25 Novelists, coming in at No 22, just after Peter Carey. For more than fifteen years she’s been writing magical books, both for children and adults. One of my favourite fantasy series is Kate’s The Witches of Eileanan series. I read them a few years ago, and they’ve been some of the few books I’ve kept that have a special space on my bookcase, just waiting for when I can re-read them. Since writing that series, Kate has published many more books, both in fantasy and fairytale retelling, and now has an impressive twenty-five to her name.
Kate started writing before the new realm of self-publishing was an option, and she is still published with traditional publishers today, but is surviving extremely well in this new age where authors don’t just write the books, they have to help promote them. Kate is proactive in speaking and presenting at libraries, schools and adult workshops and is extremely engaging in person. She also personally maintains her blog, Facebook and Twitter, something not all well-known people do — you know that if Kate answers your tweet, it really is her and not a personal assistant.
I’ve been lucky enough to steal some of Kate’s time for this interview and would like to welcome her to Booktastik.
It’s so great to have you here, and you’re our first interview! I’ve long admired your writing. Knowing you’ve been writing for such a long time, I have to know: are you still as excited when you start writing a new book as you were all that time ago?
Oh yes! I love starting a new book. The first thing I do is go and buy a gorgeous new notebook – I really love having something beautiful to work in and I love the boundless possibilities of all those empty pages. Opening up a new file is exciting too.
What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
I love every part of it! The thrill of beginning, the joyfulness of seeing the story unfold, the electric shock of new unexpected ideas, the slow careful fitting together of the narrative, the cut and polish, the excitement of seeing my beautiful book for the first time … its all wonderful.
Do you still get nervous when you give talks?
Always. However, I try and use the little fizz of nerves to give me energy and edge.
If money or time was no object, what would be your favourite holiday?
Mmmm. I think I’d like an Enchanted April in Italy, followed by a leisurely drive to Paris, via the south of France, staying in chateaus along the way.
If you were having lunch with an acquaintance and they had a dark green piece of food on their front tooth, would you tell them or just keep quite?
Oh no, I’d always tell them. I could never be so cruel as to not mention it.
I’m very happy to hear that, Kate. And, for the record, I’d tell them too.
Just to change the subject, can you tell us a bit about your latest release?
THE WILD GIRL tells the true untold love story between Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the girl-next-door who told him many of the world’s most beloved fairy tales. They fell madly in love through the telling of the tales, but were not permitted to marry. Many obstacles stood in their way – parental cruelty, poverty, war, sickness – their romance is as full of drama and passion and tragedy as any fairy tale.
Are there any books planned for release in 2014, and if so, can you tell us a bit about them?
I have a big, busy year coming up in 2014!
Firstly I have an adult novel called DANCING ON KNIVES being published in March with Random House. I actually began this novel when I was sixteen, rewrote it for my Masters of Arts in Creative Writing when I was 26, and it ended up being published when I was 36 under my maiden name Kate Humphrey, with the title FULL FATHOM FIVE. Now I am 46, it is being republished again. I have rewritten it extensively, cutting out more than 12,000 words along the way. It’s very exciting to see the first novel I wrote as an adult being relaunched with a gorgeous new cover!
I also have a beautiful children’s book being published with Christmas Press, in which I retell two old Scottish fairy tales. It’s called TWO SELKIE TALES FROM SCOTLAND, and is illustrated by the amazingly talented Fiona Macdonald.
I have spent all this year writing a 5-book children’s fantasy adventure series called THE IMPOSSIBLE QUEST for Scholastic. Book 1: ESCAPE FROM WOLFHAVEN CASTLE is being released in Australia in September, with the other four being launched every three months in 2015.
The paperback edition of THE WILD GIRL is being released in the UK in June by Allison & Busby, and my previous historical novel for adults, BITTER GREENS, is being released in the US in September by St Martins Press.
So I have a lot on, as you can see!
Wow, I’m impressed. I don’t think it’s possible to be any busier than you are.
Could you ever see yourself moving away from writing to pursue other careers, or is this your one and only passion (although one is enough)?
Oh no! All I’ve ever wanted to do is write. It would break my heart to have to do anything else. I can’t see it happening, though. I’ve made my living from my writing since I was in my 20s. I’m sure I’ll always be able to keep on doing so.
What are you working on now?
I need to write the fifth and last book in THE IMPOSSIBLE QUEST series of children’s fantasy adventure books, and then I plan to finish writing my doctorate exegesis (if I pass, I’ll be a doctor of fairy tales – how good is that?) (That’s very cool.)
Then I plan to start work on another historical novel for adults. The book will be a retelling of Beauty & the Beast, set in Nazi Germany.
You have so much happening, and knowing how much, I’m even more honoured that you took the time to talk to us today. We wish you the best of luck with all your new releases in 2014!
I highly recommend Kate’s books for adults, young adults and children – you’ll find something for any age in her collection. To see all Kate’s work or buy one of her books, you can visit her website, and if you would like to say hello, you can find her on Twitter @KateForsyth or Facebook.Read previous articleRead next article