Interview by Helen Stubbs.
Kate is an Englishwoman lapping up the sunshine on the Gold Coast in Australia with her family. She’s a freelance editor, editorial director at Lakewater Press, and a middle grade author and Pitch Wars mentor.
Hi Kate. Welcome to the Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot! Tell us about your most recent novel, Winell Road.
Winell Road is a middle grade science fiction adventure. It’s about Jack, a pretty regular kid who lives in a pretty irregular place – Winell Road. His parents are oddballs, but nothing compared to his neighbours. Yet after twelve years of living with these guys, all Jack really wants is some mates to hang out with, some excitement. But then the UFO comes…
What I hope Winell Road does is take clichés from a lot of alien-based kid’s sci-fi and twist and turn them into something new. Originally the book was published last year with a new and very small Australian publisher, but I have since had the rights returned to me and, after much deliberation and conversation with my writing network, have decided to re-release the book as a self-published title on September 5th, with a cover reveal taking place on August 12th. Book two is in the editing stages, and I hope to release this at the end of the year.
Lakewater Press was born from a lot of frustration but also from a passionate love of great stories written purely to entertain. As a freelance editor and active participant in the online writing community, I was becoming very irritated by the number of fantastic stories not finding agents and publishers because they didn’t fit current trends or tick enough boxes. They deserved a place in the hands of readers as much as any. So, after much discussion with a couple of creative geniuses who happened to be close writing buddies, Lakewater was eventually born, publishing young adult, new adult and adult fiction in most genres.
We are small, and intend to grow organically and at a pace that fits our business model. We spend time with each of our authors, helping to build their platforms, and we don’t scrimp on the editing process, which I feel is a problem with a lot of books out there these days; not enough time has been spent nurturing the story and the characters to make sure they are at their very best before release.
Our first titles were released in March and April and we’ve had some awesome reviews and responses so far – maybe even from a few well-known film production companies…
What are you working on next?
I am currently editing book two in the Winell Road series and drafting book three. But, my time is very much dedicated to my editing clients and to Lakewater. It’s been a crazy couple of years, and I’ve learnt so very much with regards to my own passion and what I want out of my writing career. Plus, my business has grown so quickly; I’ve taken on both a freelance partner and assistant so we can continue to reach new clients and find exciting opportunities.
And from now and until November, on top of all the writing and editing, I’m also a middle grade Pitch Wars mentor (a huge writing contest created by author Brenda Drake) so will be working closely with one writer to polish their manuscript before pitching it to some very influential and successful literary agents in the US. I did it last year and had a ball, plus helped one writer eventually sign with a great agent. It’s a real honour to be involved again this year.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I’ve been making a big effort to enjoy work by a lot of Australian authors lately, ones I am proud to call friends. I am a huge fan of the Spark series by Rachael Craw (although she’s from New Zealand, but I think that counts!), fantastic young adult sci-fi. I have Fleur Ferris’ second book, Black, on my shelf after loving her first, Risk, which I know is now being incorporated into a lot of classroom study. Plus, I’ve started two series by Gold Coast writers I’ve come to know well: Jake in Space by Candice Lemon-Scott (middle grade sci-fi) and The Starchild series by Vacen Taylor (young adult fantasy). All are wonderful books, and I highly recommend them to readers across the world.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
Up until early this year, I’d have gone with Patrick Ness, Liz Jensen or Enid Blyton. They are all masters of their craft, have written some of my most favourite books of all time, and have influenced and inspired me to be a part of this industry. But, right now, I would choose Neal Shusterman. A good friend of mine told me about the Unwind Dystology series for young adults earlier in the year. She told me it was dark and twisted and a few scenes had really stuck with her in a super disturbing way. Well, that was enough of a sell for me, and I started reading the series. What a messed up mind Neal has, but also eerily genius! I won’t go into too much detail as it would spoil the plot for anyone considering reading it, but I need to meet this man and ask him how he ever came up with the concept of Unwinding. It’s quite remarkable and disturbing how the future this book considers, even down to internet and media articles for and against the case of Unwinding, is something that might possibly come true.