'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 14 August 2010

Author Interview: Kate Hunter

Today we're joined by author Kate Hunter, whose first novel, Mosquito Advertising: The Parfizz Pitch is soon to be followed up with the second in the series. Read more about Kate Hunter at her website, katehunter.com.au.

Tell us a little about you: what’s your background, your story? I grew up in Brisbane, the second of five kids. I was a bookish, outdoorsy tomboy show-off. I loved school and wanted to become a journalist. But the inclination to make the truth more interesting sent me straight to advertising (which is a good thing because if I had stuck with journalism I might have been sent to gaol! Sometimes I find the truth dull…).

What genre do you write in? Mosquito Advertising is fiction for ‘middle readers’. It’s a contemporary adventure story. The characters are 13. I didn’t think too much about my audience when I wrote it – I just wrote the kind of book I’d have enjoyed when I was growing up. I find demographics a bit limiting.

What other genres have you written in? Is advertising a genre? Most of my work is fiction for young people.

Why do you write? To be read!

What do you love about writing for children? I don’t really know if writing for children is that different than writing for adults. I love exaggerating, though, and perhaps children enjoy that more than adults!

How did the idea for Mosquito Advertising come about? Since leaving full-time work in advertising and spending more time with families and kids and ‘regular’ people, I began to wonder if making ads was really as challenging as it’s made out to be. What would happen if we took out the research and the marketing managers and just made ads simply and with honesty and humour? At first I thought this would be a good idea for a TV reality show, and I pursued that for a while. Then it came to life as a book.

How long did it take you to write Mosquito Advertising? Two years to write and produce, but there is a lifetime of experience in it.

Tell us about your path to having your book published. Unlike many writers, I don’t like writing that much. I love being read. So when I was a couple of thousand words into the first draft, I emailed author Rebecca Sparrow, whom I had never met. I enjoyed her books and columns and she seemed like a nice person. I told her the premise of my story and asked if I should join a club or do a course. Rebecca emailed me back and said she liked the premise and would I like to send her a few chapters? I did, she read it, put me in touch with UQP. I was offered a two-book contract on one (unfinished) manuscript.

What are the greatest blocks or obstacles you have experienced on your book-writing journey? Creating characters with depth. I am unused to writing anything that takes longer than 30 seconds to read aloud. I had never heard of an ‘arc’ before I had a contract. I was lucky to have such a wonderful (and patient) publisher and editor.

What’s a typical writing day? I get up very early – while its still dark – that makes it very early in Summer and I write for a few hours. Then I get my kids off to school, pick up a coffee and get back to it. I struggle not to be distracted by Twitter. It’s hard. I am social by nature and writing is so solitary.

What advice do you have on writing? Define your story. You should be able to say what it’s about in one sentence. Don’t say what it’s like; say what it’s about. Worry more about the story than the writing. A publisher can work with dodgy writing more than a dud idea.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be? I loved my job as a copywriter. But I think I would like to be on the radio. I like conversation.

What books did you read as a child? Enid Blyton – The Naughtiest Girl In The School. Seven Little Australians. Ash Road. Anything about resourceful kids – although I did not think of it like that at the time. I just thought they were great stories. Still do.

What else do you like to do, other than write books? Play on Twitter, see movies, read, hang out with my husband and kids, talk with my friends, go camping, sit on the beach, cook, travel.

What would be your perfect day? A bit of each of the above. I have a short attention span!

What five words best sum you up? Interested, distracted, generous, loyal, disorganised.

What’s next for Kate Hunter? Book two in the Mosquito Advertising series.

See our review of Mosquito Advertising: The Parfizz Pitch