Author Interview: Kate Forsyth

Today I’m very pleased to welcome renowned Australian speculative fiction author Kate Forsyth to our site. I first discovered Kate’s writing in the late 1990s with her high fantasy series The Witches of Eileanan. She opened my eyes to the fact that not all high fantasy authors needed to be from overseas, and I’ve loved her work ever since. 

Thank you, Kate, for visiting us at Aussie Owned and Read.
Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth

1. In the sixteen years since your first book, DRAGONCLAW, was published, we’ve seen the emergence of e-books, the Amazon behemoth and new genres, and a reduction in the number of bricks-and-mortar bookstores. How has the publishing industry changed for you?

I’ve seen a lot of changes — my contracts are a lot more complicated, that’s for sure. E-book rights, merchandising rights, audio rights, theatrical rights, film rights … thank heavens for my agent!

In general, though, I’m not frightened by all these changes. In the past, the public’s reading was very much dictated to by the gatekeepers – the publishers, the literary media, the bookshops and what books they chose to put on their shelves. Nowadays, readers can find what they want to read and buy them anywhere and in any form. Many people read a combination of p-books and e-books, listen to podcasts and audio books, and find the books they went through a variety of mediums, including social media sites such as Shelfari, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and book-dedicated blogs. All of this is great news for authors. It’s much easier for me to find readers, and readers to find me. Reading has become much more global, much more reader-driven, much more accessible. All of this is great news for writers and readers alike.

2. You’ve written everything from picture books through middle grade and young adult to adult. Do you have an age bracket that is your favourite to write for?

Oh yes. My favourite age groups to write for are adults and the middle grade children’s marked (kids aged roughly 9–12).

3. The one age bracket you haven’t “officially” written for is the new category of “new adult”—although I’d argue that some of your books could be defined in that category as well. What are your thoughts on the new adult trend?

New name for old market. Books have always been published for readers of that age bracket – it’s just a way to make it easier for those readers to find books that they like when there is such a multitude of books out there competing for their attention. My Witches of Eileanan books are perfect for that age group as my heroine is aged 16–24 over the course of the series. I’ve always been marketed as a crossover young adult/adult writer with those books – this is just a new way of describing the readers.

The Wild Girl

The Wild Girl

4. Your two most recent novels, BITTER GREENS and THE WILD GIRL, are both historical spec fic based around fairytales, and you’re currently doing a doctorate on the subject. What is your favourite fairytale?

It’s like asking me who’s my favourite writer. How can I possibly choose just one? I love many. Here are just a few: Rapunzel, Six Swans, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Snow Queen  … plus many more than most people have not heard of!

5. With over 1300 books marked read on your Goodreads page, you are obviously a prolific reader. You regularly rate and review books on your blog and sites such as Goodreads. What is your philosophy on reviewing other authors’ works? What advice would you give new authors about doing the same?

When I’m not writing, I’m reading. And when I’m not writing or reading, I’m talking and writing about writing and reading. I love to review books because I want to help writers find new readers and readers find new writers. My basic rule is — I don’t review books I didn’t like, usually because if I don’t like a book I stop reading it and find another book. Life’s too short to read a bad book! Even if I’m rather lukewarm about a book, I always try to be respectful and aware of the author’s feelings. Authors are people too. Often they are very sensitive people who have poured their blood and bone into writing a novel and are acutely aware of how people react to it. A cruel review can devastate a writer, and stop them from writing again. I will never willingly lacerate somebody’s feelings and I could not bear to think my lack of empathy and compassion harmed another person, and stopped them from trying to create something. What does not speak to me may speak to somebody else, and more harm is done by people bottling up their creative urges than by people writing and drawing and singing and dancing freely, without restraint. It is true that we need a culture of artistic examination — I don’t think this needs to be hyper-critical, however. So I always take care to be truthful yet kind, and to try and engage with the book at a deeper level.

Now I’ll hop off my soapbox. Thanks for the chance to let me rave 🙂

Want to hear more of Kate’s ravings? (I’m KIDDING!) You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest or at her website.

Cassandra Page is a HUGE fan of Kate’s and has been having vapours about this interview for the last two weeks. Really.

Cassandra Page


  1. Great interview Cass!

    Kate, I love your policy on reviewing other authors. It’s great to see such a successful author as yourself supporting other writers by leaving reviews.



  2. Great stuff! It’s good to find Australian authors who write for an audience I’m particularly interested in, namely my daughters. And a lovely philosophy on providing feedback and reviews, too – my mum always said “If you can’t say anything nice…”

    Thanks for the interview.



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