Thursday, November 16, 2023

Q&A with Kate Foster



Kate Foster is the author of the new middle grade novel All the Small Wonderful Things. Her other books include the middle grade novel The Bravest Word. She lives in Australia.


Q: What inspired you to write All the Small Wonderful Things, and how did you create your character, Alex?


A: All the Small Wonderful Things was originally inspired by my youngest son and one of my rescue dogs.


When, as a family, we went to collect Claude, our cockapoo, the fluffy little dog made an immediate beeline for my son. He stared at him, brought him toys, and followed him around everywhere.


That was nine years ago, and still to this day, Claude does the same. The two of them share a bond that is unspoken, unbroken, and so magical.


Alex is a mish-mash of my youngest son and myself. We’re quite similar in so many ways, particularly when it comes to things we struggle with in day-to-day situations – such as loud noises, crowded and fast-moving places, uncomfortable clothes. We also both adore dogs!


So, most of Alex’s thought processes, his 1,000-mile-an-hour brain, and his sensitivities are all mine, but an awful lot of the story is also inspired by experiences and interactions my son had at school.

Q: How would you describe the relationship between Alex and his dog, Kevin?


A: On a different level to that of Alex’s human relationships. Alex talks to Kevin easily, because Kevin doesn’t ask questions or make comments; he simply listens which allows Alex to share without shame or expectation. And the two of them can communicate and interact just by emotion and body language.


There’s a simplicity to the way they communicate but that doesn’t mean their relationship is superficial. In fact, I’d say this leads to them having created a friendship that is far deeper and purer than most.


Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: Interestingly the title was chosen by the brilliant team at Candlewick Press. In Australia and the UK, the book is called Paws, but there was a reason it couldn’t be called that in the US (I forget what that is now).


So, the editors put forward All the Small Wonderful Things as a suggestion and we all loved it. Even more interestingly this title is actually a line from the book itself!


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I hope readers take away a much deeper understanding and insight into what day-to-day life can look and feel like for an autistic person. I hope it not only challenges but absolutely smashes harmful stereotypes of autism and offers people a valuable inside perspective.


I hope it goes beyond proving that autistic people are not broken, just different, and that sometimes taking a moment to think, to consider, and then make the smallest changes, can make the most enormous impact on a person’s day, and even life.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: So many books! But here’s a sneaky peek…


1. A chapter book comprised of three mini adventures starring an autistic (and possibly the first autistic female?) superhero, whose superpowers lie in the incredible dogs from her family’s rescue shelter.


2. A middle-grade mystery (Enid Blyton meets Scooby Doo) starring five autistic kids attending boring school holiday classes who, unexpectedly, must join forces to stage a daring rescue mission.


3. My first novel-in-verse about an autistic girl whose happy place is the gymnasium but whose most unhappy place is school. This one is quite a personal and angry story!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to conduct this interview. Here is some information about a signed book giveaway!

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