Monday 22 October 2018

Author Spotlight - Kate Forsyth

Called 'one of the finest writers of this generation', she admits she writes, reads and daydreams. Please welcome Kate Forsyth!


Kate Forsyth is a best-selling, award-winning author of picture books, poetry, fantasy novels for children and fairy tale retellings for adults. She has a doctorate in fairy tale retellings, a BA in literature, an MA in creative writing. She is the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, and she's a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of A Mother's Offering to her Children, the first book for children ever published in Australia.  Kate lives in a seaside area of Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, a rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback, a bad-tempered black cat, and thousands of books. You can contact Kate on Twitter:, on Facebook:, on her blog:, and through her website:

What is one must-have when you are writing?
A big cup of tea!

What are you reading at the moment?
A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes

Name one thing you're scared of?

Like to share something that recently made you happy?
I signed a contract with the National Library of Australia to write a book with my sister, Belinda Murrell. We are co-creating a bibliomemoir inspired by the life of my great-great-great-great-grandmother Charlotte Waring Atkinson who wrote the first children's book published in Australia.

Image courtesy of:

Like to share an embarrassing moment?
A few weeks ago I was at the Bendigo Writers Festival and was coming out of the auditorium to a big queue of people waiting for me to sign their books. My foot caught in the tablecloth, the table collapsed and I fell flat on my face in front of dozens of people. I hurt my foot and my pride.

Who is your favourite literary crush?
At the moment, it's Sarah Waters!

If you were the main character in your favourite book, who would you be?
Emily Starr, the heroine of L.M. Montgomery's series which began with Emily of New Moon. It was the first book I ever read about a girl who wanted to be a writer and I badly wanted to live on Prince Edward Island.

What is the premise of your latest book?
Beauty in Thorns tells the story of pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones and his lifelong obsession with the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale which led him to create a quartet of extraordinary paintings which became the most celebrated art of the late 19th century. It is a story of love, desire, betrayal and forgiveness told in the voices of four women who most inspired him, including his wife Georgie - the model for the first and last Sleeping Princesses - and his daughter, Margot, the model for the most famous.

What unique challenges did the book pose?
The Pre-Raphaelites are such a fascinating group of people - there were just so many wonderful stories, I had to pick and choose carefully, focusing on my core story. I still wrote far too much, and had to cut it back very hard. A very challenging book to write but so rewarding.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a new fairy tale-infused historical novel for adults called The Blue Rose. It is set in Imperial China and France during the French Revolution and was inspired by the true story of the quest for a blood-red rose.

Image of 'The Blue Rose' - old fairy tale set in China - courtesy of:
What is your writing schedule? 
I work most days, but there is a lot to do besides writing - administration, answering emails, doing interviews. Monday is my admin. day, then I write Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I often have a half-day on Fridays, work most of Saturday, and then catch up on my reading or do different types of writing on Sundays (i.e. poetry, short stories, essays). I walk the dog in the morning and then work through to around 4:30 pm when my kids get home from school and I have a little break. Then I work through until around 6:30 pm when I cook dinner. If I'm writing well, I go back to it after dinner - but usually I read in the evenings.

Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between?
I don't like this term 'plotting v. pantsing' as it is divisive and sets up two equally important and valuable writing tools as binary opposites when, in truth, both can work together to help you discover your story. I plan my overall narrative arc carefully, and like to create a simple chapter outline, but there is always room for new ideas and inspirations. The plan changes as I discover my story, and sometimes I need to adjust my early ideas quite significantly. Often I know what needs to happen in a chapter, but have no idea how to make it happen on the page. I love free associative writing as it often sparks new ideas, but whenever I am stuck, having a plan can really help me see my way forward.

What do you love to love?
I love to write and read, obviously, but also to walk in a place of natural beauty, to work in my garden, to cook, to listen to music, to dance, to go to the theatre, to travel the world.

What do you love to laugh at?
My dog makes me laugh every day.

What do you love to learn about?
Each new novel I write teaches me something I did not know before. I learn so much, it astounds me. Not just about the time and place my story is set in, but also about writing and myself.


  1. Kate, I love your books, and loved this little Q&A. I've met you at Sutherland Library a couple of times, and really enjoy listening to you as well. Congratulations on Beauty in Thorns, and it's fabulous when you give us snippets as you walk us through writing The Blue Rose. You must be so proud to also be given the opportunity to write about your ancestor - that will be so interesting in terms of research as well. I do love the fact you are a prolific reader as well as writer, that warms my heart. Looking forward to reading lots more books from you. All the best.

    1. Thank you so much, Malvina! It was lovely to see you again at the Dickens conference. I am so glad you enjoy my books & speeches & hope you love The Blue Rose when it comes out ��

  2. I love that despite what happened to you when you were a child that you still love your dog. I suppose it really was a case of sometimes things happen for a reason - as it's how you fell in love with reading. Enjoying your Video pod casts too.

    1. Thank you Cassandra! We are having so much fun with Word of Mouth TV, but are also hoping to do something really worthwhile in supporting other authors & Australia’s literary community. And yes I agree, it’s strange & magical how so much good has come out of so much pain. I never forget it when other bad things happen. And I love dogs! I could not live without them.

  3. I love how you knew in your heart that you wanted to write and you pursued that goal making that dream a reality. Now you're going to tell the tale of your ancestor and what a thrill that must be!

    1. It’s going to be an incredibly beautiful & moving project, Enisa. I’m so glad that we’ve been able to find support for the book and cannot wait to start the adventure. And yes, I always knew I was going to write & I’ve never wavered in my determination, even when I had to make great sacrifices to pursue my dream. It’s just wonderful that all that grit and hard work has paid off!

  4. Hi Kate! It was lovely to read more about you and your writing. I greatly enjoyed Beauty in Thorns - such an intriguing group of artists. I also love your Word of Mouth interviews - they're a lot of fun to watch and you obviously have a lot of fun making them.

    1. Thanks so much, Marilyn. I’m so glad you enjoyed Beauty in Thorns, I loved writing it so much. And yes, Word of Mouth is so much fun, even though it’s also really hard work. We so want to our book show to be joyous & celebratory rather than pompous and boring :)

  5. Hi Kate, I loved "The Beast's Garden" and "Bitter Greens".i look forward to reading "Beauty in Thorns".


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