Author Interview with Kate Inglis

And interview with Kate Inglis, author of 5 books for all ages, including the middle-grade novels The Dread Crew and Flight of the Griffons; the non-fiction memoir for adults, Notes for the Everlost, and the picture books, If I were a Zombie and A Great Big Night. Hear about her addiction to endless revision, the companionship she finds in fictional characters, and how her first novel began with a story she told her child just to pass the time. 25 minutes. All ages.

A full interview transcript is available at

Show Notes

[0:00] Intro

[1:10] Interview with Kate Inglis


CA: Are you a planner? Do you know the ending of your story when you begin?

KI: No, I never do. …I feel like the act of writing is how I find the shape. My brain will kind of spit me out somewhere in the middle, a scene that just grabs me. … And then my thinking has to sort of spray outwards in every direction… And so sometimes I have a loose sense of what kind of a story it might be, but I don’t know for certain until I give the characters a chance to tell me.


[2:15] CA: Do you have any favorite fictional characters from children’s fiction?

KI: I love all of Roald Dahl’s characters…He was never afraid of letting stories be truly disorienting …And I remember loving Girl of the Limberlost when I was a kid. … a very sort of unusual, very smart, very nature-oriented girl….


[3:15] CA: …. How do you feel about tormenting your characters?

KI: Oh, like giving a dog a good bone to chew on. … The stuff that really fortifies you and turns you into the person you’re meant to be is the tough stuff. … The stories that I love to write the most are always going to be the ones where people, you can see the gravity of whatever it is they’re carrying…. Because we all have that on us, right?

[4:20] CA: Have you ever written a series? You have…. Did you did you know you were going to write a sequel?

KI: No. … I didn’t start writing The Dread Crew thinking I was writing a book. I just told a story to a 6-year-old in the woods because he was bored and we had a long way to walk. … And eventually it became a book. … I think by the time I was finished writing it, I knew that I would want to write another one.


[6:00] CA: How do you feel about sad endings?

KI: Well I mean, that’s life, isn’t it? … I think there is absolutely such a thing as a sad ending done really beautifully, that still leaves the reader feeling enriched …It’s not so much about Was the ending quote good or bad? It’s, Was it done well? … A story with an ending that some people might consider sad, those are some of the best stories we have.


[6:55] CA: Is there a typical amount of time… that you would spend … drafting vs revising?

KI: I would love to kind of chart that when I write my next novel… I actually love the process of editing. But the process of filling empty pages has always been more of a challenge for me. … I guess it might be 50/50. … The last novel that I wrote, that’s with my agent now, I was probably working on it in earnest for about a year and a half… And then editing has been a very intense probably 8 months. But then that first year and a half was a ton of editing as well. … And as it turns out, I ended up re-sending her 6 drafts. …


[10:00] CA: What would you say is the hardest thing about writing a good story? …

KI: … Getting over yourself. Just getting through to the point where you can keep sitting your butt down in the chair and keep cranking on the word count …. Even when you think you’re no good, even when you think that probably the story isn’t coming together, step away from it for a bit and then come back. Drop yourself somewhere else in the story. But whatever you do, just keep going. …


[11:30] CA: Excellent Do you have a favorite POV to write from? …

KI: I always write it as kind of the observing narrator. I’ve never written in first person. … As the narrator, I’ll kind of jump in here and then out again and then over there in terms of time. …You can sort of reach in with his giant hand and kind of move things around and adjust the pacing and the flow so that it just feels like it’s balanced. And I guess that’s me. I’m the hand, the giant hand.


[13:00] CA: And do you keep a regular writing practice? …

KI: … I’m kind of a plodder. …I write when the spirit moves. … sometimes it’s quite late into the night…I have a hard time sleeping. All I can hear in my head is [my characters’] voices. … And now that I’ve finished writing that book … I miss them. …A lot of people I think would find the process of writing a book perhaps to be really lonely … But I find myself very much kept company by my characters. …There is sort of this long stretch in the middle when you’re creating, when I think we’re most vulnerable to self-doubt, which is I think our sort of zone of abandonment as writers. …. All of us hit that point. … And that’s okay. I just need to keep going through the fog.


[17:05] CA: What scared you as a kid?

KI: …Not fitting in. … And at the same time… I didn’t particularly want to fit in. … I didn’t want to be like everyone else. …The older you get, the more you can make that possible for yourself. You can absolutely fit in and … not have to be like everyone else….


[18:40] CA: How important is setting to you when you write? …

KI: Settings are crazy important. Settings are like another character for me. When I’m developing setting, I feel like a photographer when I write. …The setting of the novel that I just wrote is an abandoned house… so it’s a very evocative place to write in. … It’s a very useful tool to use setting and place as a way of showing and not telling what a character is driven by, what scares them, how they react to the world. … So place is absolutely elemental for me.


[20:45] CA: Are there setting or character exercises that you recommend to young writers?

KI: … I don’t do a whole lot of exercises. I’ll just be in a project and I’ll kind of keep going in the project. …Just start something. … Once you have the bones of a story…  do a little bit of freeform… journaling. … almost like you’re being interviewed about the character. … I’m a big journaler, so I’m a big believer in that.


[21:55] CA: Do you have recommendations to young writers for getting or organizing ideas?

KI: … I love having a big journal… And doodling and kind of free association and lists. I only just started writing with Scrivener, and that has been really useful for me in writing … novels. …Another thing that I do is I have a Pinterest, almost like it’s my bulletin board. … So I’ll often kind of clip and save stuff from online that feel evocative to me, somebody’s smile or someone’s boots, pictures of a setting, or maps, or other descriptions, or quotes that inspire me. …. I can kind of go there and tap into those warm mushy feelings about the project. It helps me remember to why I’m doing it, because I’m moved by this vision, by this idea.


[24:05] CA: Very cool. … Thank you so much…

KI: It’s been so fun to chat. … Bye


[24:20] Kate Inglis introduces herself

KI: I’m Kate Inglis. And I’m an author. I’ve dabbled in kids’ picture books and middle-grade adventures and adult nonfiction and adult novels as well. And I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid. And I always knew that I wanted to be an author but I wasn’t always certain what I would say, what stories I would tell. And so much of my adult life has been keeping an eye out for those stories and sort of listening, like through a tin-can telephone, very very quietly for those characters that pop up, and learning how to chase them when I hear that call. So that’s me.


[25:20] Find out more about Kate Inglis

You can hear more creative writing advice from Kate Inglis on Cabin Tales Episode 5.5, “Author interviews about Plotting; and on Episode 6, “Begin in the Darkness,” about Beginnings; and on Episode 8, “The Never-ending Story,” about Revision.  You can find out more about Kate Inglis and her books from her website at


[26:10] Thanks and coming up on the podcast 

I’ll be back next week with leftovers from my interview with Don Cummer, author of historical fiction for young readers. Thanks for listening.


Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use).

Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at

Guest Author:


Kate Inglis is an award-winning author for adults and children. Her novels, non-fiction, and poetic picture books are infused with the salt, woodsmoke, and fresh air of the North Atlantic coast. Kate is also a photographer and a corporate writer. Find her online at


Interview with Author-Illustrator Farida Zaman

An interview with Farida Zaman, author-illustrator of I Want to Be: A Gutsy Girl’s ABC, and illustrator of more than a dozen picture books and early readers. Hear about her love of fractured fairy tales, her dedication to creating a signature style, and her own experience of being a gutsy girl when she chose a life in the arts. 20 minutes. All ages.

A full interview transcript is available at

Show Notes

[0:00] Intro

[1:10] Interview with Farida Zaman

FZ: I illustrate and write now. I used to only illustrate. … my debut author-illustrator project with Second Story Press came out in spring 2020 called I Want to Be: A Gutsy Girl’s ABC.

CA: … Do you have projects that you’re writing and illustrating both right now?

FZ: Yes. … I’m illustrating a picture book written by my daughter, Layla Ahmad. …And I’m … finished a manuscript that I’m fleshing into a book dummy. …


[2:10] CA: …Do you work on more than one book at a time?

FZ: Very much so. … I also do educational work … schoolbooks and book covers …. I used to do much more editorial and design and advertising…. I’m working on a collection of jigsaw puzzles … I wear a couple of different hats.


[2:50] CA: …. Is there a place where you get your best ideas from?

FZ: My best ideas come from what I see around me. I take a lot of notes. …. I like trying out new things. … So my audience will see something different in my work. But I try and keep my look as unique as possible.


[3:40] CA: Are there some favorite projects?

FZ: …Years ago I did a … on Moghul emperors, and the author was Rina Singh. [The book is The Foolish Men of Agra.] And it was really really exciting to research the history of these people. I’m drawn to textures, textiles, and cultures…it kind of gave me the opportunity to study and to decorate the book. …


[4:15] CA: Have you ever based a story or illustration on your own childhood?

FZ: … Emotions perhaps. The Gutsy Girl came out from a place of shooting for the stars. …That was always my goal growing up. … My parents originally wanted me to study something way more academic. … I wanted to show the family thatyou can make a living doing what you love. …


[5:30] CA: …Have you ever been inspired by another artist’s work?

FZ: … Jane Ray — she’s a British writer — she’s always inspired me. …She has a great knack of retellings … her work just looks like tapestry to me. …


[6:30] CA: Have you illustrated fairy tales or classic myths or anything like that yourself?

FZ: … Jack and the Beanstalk…. It’s sort of like a fractured fairy tale…. It can be really exciting that way.


[6:55] CA: Have you ever written or illustrated anything spooky, scary?

FZ: I’ve done things about anxiety…. Like monsters … versus a little girl. … But nothing really kind of out of the box scary….


[7:15] CA: Do you do school visits?

FZ: I do. I illustrated up book on yoga…by Kathy Beliveau. … that was a very fun book to work with students … The art component is really fun, drawing your favorite pose.


[8:00] CA: … What would your journal look like? Like, is it messy? Is it organized?

FZ: … I’d like to be the person that shows it on Instagram page by page and it looks so delicious and beautiful. Not my sketchbook. … I have a sketchbook for picture book ideas, where I do storyboarding, …stick figures and …notes. I think that’s really important. …When you get stuck with the words, it really helps that you can draw because then you see where the gap might be and how melds together ….


[9:30] CA: Do you have any recommendations to young artists or young writers for getting or keeping or organizing ideas?

FZ: I think keeping a sketchbook is crucial. … Find inspiration in where you are and, you know, what you like to do also.


[9:50] CA:… Are you a planner? Or do you just see what you’re going to come up with?

FZ: … I’m not a planner. I do things spontaneously. … And then I start tweaking. … When you plan too much, you can lose certain components of the story. …It’s really interesting to look at the older version of a story that may be becoming a book… It’s so exciting when you see that happen.


[11:30] CA: Do you have any favorite plot twists… or surprises?

FZ: I like a good giggle. … something different, something that changes something old to something new.


[12:15] CA: Do you have any techniques for making an interesting middle?

FZ: The pacing of the story is so important. …. Sometimes we tend to come to a climax a little sooner in the book…. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle … And sometimes the clicking takes a long longer than you think it might. … It really helps if there’s some kind of twist in the middle … It is important to look at the story in different ways….


[13:45] CA: …Do you have a favorite first line…?

FZ: I like a direct beginning and something that takes you straight into the story. …introduce your character. … who is it and what does she want? …. I like going straight to the point.


[14:30] CA: Nice. Do you have a favourite … ending?

FZ: For picture books, I think circular stories work the best… For a child, it’s a nice warm cozy feeling.


[15:05] CA: Do you have a favorite POV to write from?

FZ: A child’s point of view. I tend to work … in present tense… I find that kids relate to that. It’s happening when they’re listening to it. …


[15:30] CA: And what scared you as a kid?

FZ: The dark. As a kid, I was a very anxious child …. People are more open to talking about it now. … In the past, people like myself growing up, it wasn’t easily dealt with….


[16:30] CA: Did you tell stories around the campfire as a kid?

FZ: … Later on maybe, as a teenager…. But not as a child.

CA: You don’t like scary stories.

FZ: Not particularly. …. I think monster stories are really cute, but I like friendly characters. I’m not into developing mean personalities.

CA: Do you have a favorite sweet monster or funny monster?

FZ: I love Cookie Monster. I love Grover. Sesame Street. I like that kind of monster. … Maurice Sendak’s monsters. The classic.

CA: Yes, he said he based those on his relatives who ruined every Sunday dinner.

FZ: I can relate to that.


[17:30] CA: Do you collect anything?

FZ: I love collecting things. I collect bowls. … I collect toys. … that are little retro. … I love collecting children’s picture books. …

CA:I think it’s a shame that so many people never touch a picture book once their kid’s over 5. …


[18:10] CA: What would you say is the hardest thing about illustrating or writing a good book?

FZ: I think word count can be quite challenging. …How do you make that work within 500 words or, tops, 700 words? How do you make it really interesting and stylized and rich, visually?


[18:45] CA: … What do you do to prepare to make a setting? …

FZ: … I’ll go online and look at furniture and … what she should wear, her neighborhood….. I think layouts are really important. … And the perspective …. To create drama, I think it’s really important. And creating a sense of contrast. Big and small. I think you can do that in your illustrations and you can do it in your words as well.


[20:05] CA: Do you have any favorite fictional characters?

FZ: … The Big Red Lollipop. … by Rukhsana Khan. It’s illustrated by Sophie Blackall. It’s a lovely book. Personality really shines through. …. The eyes just tell you a story…


[20:50] CA: Do you have any exercises you would recommend for developing the character?

FZ: I think it’s important to know what your style is… have a sketchbook filled with sketches of realistic, and then pare it down to something more simple. … it’s good to have different styles, but there should be a limit to it. Otherwise people will never know you. …


[22:00] CA: That’s great. Thanks so much. …


[22:15] Farida Zaman introduces herself

FZ: Hi. I’m Farida Zaman. I’m an author and an illustrator. I illustrate picture books. And I’m writing picture books as well now. I’ve been doing this for the past three decades now, and I just love what I do. In my early years, I used to do a lot of editorial work as well, and I used to print and design. In between writing and illustrating, I also run workshops and art classes, too, for mainly adults.


[23:00] Find out more about Farida Zaman

You can hear more creative writing advice from Farida Zaman on Cabin Tales Special Episode X: “Picture a Story.” You can find out more about Farida Zaman and her books from her website at


[23:45] Thanks and coming up on the podcast

I’ll be back next week with leftovers from my interview with Kate Inglis, author for all ages. Thanks for listening.


Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use).

Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at

Guest Author:


Farida Zaman is a Toronto-based illustrator, author, and educator known for her upbeat, sophisticated, and whimsical style. She has worked with clients including the Latin Grammy Awards, The New York Times, UNICEF, London Underground, Toronto Transit Commission and many more. Farida has illustrated more than a dozen picture books. Her first authored and illustrated picture book – I Want to Be: A Gutsy Girl’s ABC – was published in 2020. She is currently an instructor at Toronto’s Avenue Road Art School, where she runs art workshops and illustration classes for adults and children. Find her online at, on Twitter @fzamanart, and on Instagram @fzamanart.


Author Interview with Lena Coakley

Listen to the podcast interview here:

An interview with Lena Coakley, author of critically acclaimed young adult and middle-grade fantasy novels, including Witchlanders, Worlds of Ink and Shadow, and Wicked Nix. Hear about Lena’s love of worldbuilding, her ambition to write a sweeping Dickensian story, and her thoughts on the importance of daydreaming. 20 minutes. All ages.

A full transcript is available at

Show Notes

Read More

Author Interview with Cary Fagan

Listen to the podcast interview here:

An interview with Cary Fagan, multi-award-winning author of over 40 books, including short story collections, picture books, middle-grade novels, and adult novels. Hear about his typically lengthy revision process, his love of texts within texts, and his experiments with narrative voice and how he has come to look differently at the idea of rules for writing fiction. 25 minutes. All ages.

A full transcript is available at

Read More

Author Interview with Kari-Lynn Winters

Listen to the podcast interview here:

An interview with Dr. Kari-Lynn Winters, associate professor of language arts and author of more than 27 books for the very young, fiction and non-fiction, standalones and series. Hear about her love of unreliable narrators, her balance of many writing projects at once, and her fear of dogs, horses and ghosts. 25 minutes. All ages.

A full transcript is available at

Read More

%d bloggers like this: