Our next interview is with Storytale Festival co-founder Kate Frost, who’s the author of a time travel adventure trilogy, Time Shifters.
So tell us Kate, where do you get your ideas from?
My parents dragged me and my brother around castles and National Trust properties when I was a kid (I really didn’t appreciate it at the time). To entertain myself, I’d wander around imagining I was in the past when there were prisoners in the dungeons, archers on the castle walls, and grand banquets taking place. Years later a visit to Warwick Castle gave me the idea for Time Shifters. As I walked around I kept on thinking what would happen if children on a school trip ended up travelling back in time…
With all my books, whether for children or adults, place is an important factor and the initial idea usually stems from somewhere I’ve visited.
How do you know when you’ve got a good idea?
When the story takes on a life of its own and the words flow.
Where do you write?
Either at home on the dining room table or in coffee shops. I get more writing done when I’m out of the house. I like the buzz of a café and find the background noise less distracting than being at home. The coffee helps too.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I’m a little bit of both. I plot enough to vaguely know where the story should be going, but whether characters stick to the plan is another matter. I often get to the end of a novel and think how on earth did I write that?
How long does it take you to complete a book?
Ha, wildly varying lengths of time! My first middle grade book, Time Shifters: Into the Past took twelve years from when I started to write it, to it being published. In contrast, the third book, Time Shifters: Out of Time took fourteen months from start to finish. The actual writing is just a small part of the whole process – I spend at least as much time editing, and being an indie author I’m then in charge of the publishing process which includes working with my editor and my two very talented cover designers.
What hurdles do you encounter along the way?
Self doubt, particularly in the sticky middle bit of a novel where I’m not exactly sure which way the novel’s going and how I’m ever going to finish it. I’m usually writing one book while editing another, plus marketing published books (which is an ongoing challenge). Life in general, plus other creative ventures such as festival planning are added pressures on my time too! It’s a fine balancing act.
How do you know when your book’s journey is completed?
I’m not sure a book’s journey is ever fully completed. As I grow as an author and gain more experience, I know there are things I could tweak with my earlier books, nothing major but the writing could be polished a little more. I think it’s the nature of writing to constantly improve and grow.
I have a process now though. I write a first draft and trust me, it really is rough. No one gets to read that draft apart from me. I enjoy the editing process, reshaping the novel and bringing the story to life, rewriting and cutting words, sentences or even whole paragraphs to turn the book into something readable and hopefully enjoyable. I’ll edit two or three times before sending it out to beta readers, one of whom I did my Creative Writing MA with. I trust her completely – she’s honest and constructive, and usually my manuscript is returned covered in pen marks detailing both the good and the bad. I’ll then make another edit before it goes to my editor for a final edit and proof read.
What books inspired you as a child?
Adventure stories like CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. I adored the humour, the adventure, the wonderful and often vividly horrible characters in Roald Dahl’s books and I love being able to now read them with my six-year-old.
And finally, what’s your next project?
I’m currently writing a novel for adults, but I do want to write more for children. I’m planning a couple of spin off novella-length books for Time Shifters to follow Lizzie and Danny’s stories, plus there’s the possibility of continuing Maisie and Co’s time-shifting adventures. Or I might write something completely new!
And of course, Storytale Festival is an ongoing project.
Tell us 3 random/interesting facts about yourself.
1. I started writing at the age of seven following open heart surgery for a hole in my heart.
2. I’ve briefly appeared in the films Vanity Fair, King Arthur and The Duchess.
3. On the morning of our wedding in Greece we didn’t actually know where we were getting married… It all turned out fine, but the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding is no exaggeration!
Learn more about Kate Frost here: