Here’s what Spotlight is about; it’s an interview that promotes you! It will feature questions that are formatted to your needs. Questions will be focused on your work, upcoming work and some personal [but not intrusive] questions for your fans to get to know you more!
Tell us about yourself
My name is Kath Unsworth I live down the far south coast of Australia. We moved away from a large city, left behind the suburban way of life and took our family far, far away for some clean, fresh country air. I was originally from a small town, so for me bringing my children up in the wide open spaces has brought back some fantastic childhood memories. The day we arrived on the dairy farm to work and live in one of the old farm houses was a surprise, no neighbors and I found my son dancing in cow pats. I told him to get out and he said. It’s just wet grass mum
Share with us some of your interests
I love bushwalking with a camera in hand and some chocolate to keep my energy levels pumped. Beach walks, barbecues and family gatherings I read every day and love the ritual of going to the movies.
What makes you the person you are?
I come from a large family of nine children I believe you donÕt change that much over the years and the writing and creating was always a part of my life on our hobby farm of five aches, we had one of each animal instead of two like Noah. I had a wild imagination back then and it is coming back as I watch my own children learn and discover what life has to offer us.
About your writing;
When did you start writing?
I started writing an actual novel about five years ago, fiction fantasy novels to begin with and more recently I began concentrating on a picture book.
What inspires you to write?
Any little idea, stories come to mind every day, it’s hard to focus on one thing because my mind is full of children’s stories that spring from everyday life. My problem being I have too many stories bouncing around in a brain that never did reach its full maturity.
How has writing changed you as a person?
I am thankful every day when I look back and see how far I have come and how much I have learned. I am more confident now in telling family and friends that I am a writer and will eventually publish something one day. That’s the difference, six months ago nobody knew of this dream.
Adding some fun;
If you spend the rest of your life in a novel or novel series, what novel would it be and why?
I would have to say Harry Potter because I wish those books were around when I was young, I would have been a wand waving Harry Potter fan for sure. I loved magic as a munchkin and still do.
Share a couple of your favorite things and or things you like?
My favorite children’s book is Where the Wild Things Are. My comfort food is Bolognese with lashings of parmesan cheese and a dollop of sour cream on top. I love my camera, my family who keep me real. Ooh and my color pencils.
What couldn’t you live without?
My camera it inspires me, when I capture something special and family of course. Oh and my mac.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about writing?
Many books on the subject but ones that have stayed with me are:
Finger painting on the Moon by Peter Levitt, his journey as a writer left me with an ahhh factor of this is what I want for myself.
You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins it gave me the permission to tell people that I am a writer and to start acting like one.
Is there a character that annoys you in the literacy world? Or even one of your own?
No because if a book has annoying character I will not be able to finish the book, unless the character is meant to be annoying.
What do you look for in a publishing company as they will end up representing your work?
I research companies that promote picture books I admire. A company that can see my potential and make it even better, someone who I can trust with my work, who wonÕt change it into their story and help me to see where I can make it shine.
How do you stay confident in yourself especially by putting yourself out there in the internet world?
Some days are diamonds and everything goes well and I write or draw something worth sharing, on the other days when I donÕt feel the muse I just write anyway and usually the muse shows up just in time. I tell myself if I am not in the mood, just write for fifteen minutes and usually I start enjoying myself and keep going. When I feel my words arenÕt resonating with others I go back over the ones that did and start from there.
How do you handle rejection? What advice can you offer to moving past it?
The other day I put my artwork cover up in my writing group for all to see on facebook I had some great comments and then I had some interesting comments on how to make it better. All comments are good, I take out of them what I can use and throw the rest away. I learned a lot on that day, even though it hurts to get feed back, if you can see past the critique and use what has been given, your work will be better for it.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
The one that has stuck with me is JUST WRITE and when you are nervous or scared write some more and most of all listen to what the experts have to say. You can never read too many books or posts on the craft. Read, read, read and then write it from your heart.
Featuring your work and or upcoming work;
Tell us about your book [s]
I have too many, so I will start with the one I am working on now my picture book Sugar Goes to the Fair
Who is your favorite character and why? [If you can share without spoiling your work]
I love Sugar my cross breed calf, she is beautiful and different and an optimist like me. When she is told she cannot enter the competition for the Show calves she sets about trying to win a ribbon at the fair. My son has autism so being different is a cool thing in our house. We do not follow the crowd.
What character do you hope readers understand?
I hope they understand Sugar, her feelings of rejection and her feelings of joy when she overcomes her challenges.
Do you have a favorite part of your own book (s) ?
When the children in the craft tent, paint her coat in a rainbow of colour and then a big wind comes and blows Fairy floss (cotton candy) all over her coat.
Choosing a character or even yourself, can you give us a sample playlist of music that would follow said person?
It might be
The Proclaimers: IÕm on my way from misery to happiness today because I am writing or on tough days The Beatles We all Live in a Yellow Submarine. (To remind me I am writing for children and not to take myself too seriously.)
Have you had trouble writing about any of your characters?
Not so far because they pop up in different parts of the story to either challenge Sugar (conflict) or help her achieve her goal.
What would you like readers to get from your book (s) ?
My readers are very young and I want them to realise we are all different and special in our own way and that its a GOOD thing.
In your book (s) what had been the hardest challenge youÕve faced so far?
In all my books including tween novels my biggest challenge is getting something finished. It was my daughter who told me to stop starting new books and finish one already, (wise words indeed).
How is this world a better place because of your books?
I am hoping to leave a message of hope, that it is okay to be you, we are all unique beings with a special gift to share with the world and we need to accept that its fantastic to be different.
If you could meet any of your own characters, who would (they / it) be?
I have met Sugar she is a real calf at the dairy her name is Twinkle and she is one of the most animated calves in the pen, she has character and that is why I chose her. She is different to the black and white Friesian calves and stands out in the paddocks.
What do you to for marketing?
I have my blog, Twitter account and a facebook page that will eventually be based around what ever I have published at the time. I realise I need to build a strong following with these avenues to assist in advertising what I am working on. Eventually link up with local schools and libraries.
Promote your books in a sentence or less 🙂
Sugar is a shy calf who discovers she is not allowed to enter the competition in the fair, because she is different.
(If more than one work, a sentence for EACH work, youÕre not limited to one sentence for more than one piece of work.)
What are you working on now?
Sugar Illustrations and shaping the story before sending it out to my beta readers (the next step before pitching it to an agent). Although illustrations will take longer than writing story.
What is the process like to illustrate your own work?
It is harder than I thought it was going to be, First light pencil sketch then I use an artline pen and ink it in, then I use water colour pencils and render it. I usually finish with adding artline pen over the top as well. Finding the time to spend on each illustration, then redoing it over and over until it is worthy.
With your books do you picture what’s happening in your mind like a movie because of your illustration background?
Yes, it is kind of like that, I take photos to use as my starting points. I went out and took photos of a Clydesdale, a kelpie dog, a cat and little girl painting (my niece). These are what I use to get my basic illustrations from. I took photos of Sugar but did not take enough at first, so by the time I went back she had grown and her coat was darker too.
As a writer we tend to get writers block but as an illustrater what happens there?
Its much the same, you illustrate something and then get frustrated when it does not turn out how you wanted it too. The same as writing its all about practice, re-editing and trying again until you get it right.
As you take inspiration from your own life – where else do you find inspiration to write and illustrate?
My ideas come from anywhere, mostly something that has a little truth to the tale. My husband came home one day and told me about a preying mantis that was living on his quad bike. This encouraged me to write a story called Manny and Me a snail who is too lazy to clean his own house (shell) takes to the quad bike with Manny (praying Mantis) in search of a better house. Stories spring into my head when driving, sleeping even writing something else.
If you could illustrate anyone’s work who would it be?
I am not worthy but if I had the chance I would have loved to watch and learn from Maurice Sendak (where the wild things are). To watch him work on those monsters would have been a dream to inspire me for a life time.
Best piece of advice for illustrating?
It is like writing, practice the craft, experiment and work hard, never be satisfied until you know its the best you can do. Most of all enjoy the learning process and if all else fails in my case, I ask a child, they know best in my world.
You can find Kath Unsworth at