Kate Foster is an editor, literary agent for Storm Literary Agency, author, and founder of the Disabled Creatives (DC) Universe. Foster spoke with The Mark Literary Review editor, Jessica Purgett, about her literary journey.
Becoming an Agent
For Foster, becoming a literary agent was, "quite a speedy turn of events," she said.
"I've been an editor for a number of years, mentoring writers and immersing myself in the world of kid's books. After some rather large and dramatic changes that happened during my life in 2019, career and personal, I was in a position to try something different, something that offered me a chance to learn more about the publishing industry," Foster said.
She reached out to a friend who worked in the literary realm, and before she knew it she was interning at Storm Literary Agency, assisting the agents with edits and their reading commitments.
"It didn't take long from there for me to realise I was doing all the things I loved and, after being asked if I was interested in officially joining as an associate literary agent at Storm, it didn't take much thought on my part to fully commit to this as my new future," Foster said. "I haven't regretted my decision once."
As a literary agent, Foster's daily routine can fluctuate wildly.
"I can spend my days reading queries and pages and responding to the authors; editing my clients' manuscripts or brainstorming ideas with them by email or Zoom; chatting with authors I'm interested in signing, reading full manuscripts; reviewing and researching editor wish lists and recent deals; chatting with the other agents at Storm about the industry and ideas for the agency; completing interviews like this one or working on critiques I may have offered to writing groups; participating in Twitter pitching contests..." she said.
Foster likes everything about being a literary agent, "but there's nothing quite like finding a story and an author that gives me heart flutters. That's the part agents long for and why they do this job. It's magic," she concluded.
The most challenging part of the job is sending passes, said Foster.
"I absolutely hate it, but I only have so many hours in a day so I have to see more than just potential in a manuscript. I have to fall in love."
In addition to being a literary agent, Foster is also an author. Her debut novel, PAWS will come out on April 7, 2021.
"PAWS is an upbeat, but also fairly emotional middle grade story about a boy desperate to make a friend before he starts high school (in Australia that is, so he’s 11 years old). It takes place over the course of a week as the PAWS dog show approaches, where Alex, the protagonist, believes winning a trophy will guarantee him a friend. The book is packed with dogs because dogs are the best, and at its core is about friendship, kindness, empathy and compassion," Foster said.
The book has great diversity representation, as Alex is autistic; but, the book isn't just for neurodivergent readers.
"Yes, Alex is autistic and PAWS potentially gives an insight into one autistic person’s experiences, but the book isn’t just for autistic readers. It’s for anyone and everyone who likes sweet, gentle, quiet books about making friends and dogs," Foster said.
The story was inspired by Foster's wish to write a happy story with a happy ending, her own experiences, and the relationship her youngest son has with one of their dogs, Claude, "who has the most extraordinary understanding of my son's emotions and needs," Foster said.
The Disabled Creatives (DC) Universe
In addition to being an editor, literary agent, and author, Foster created the Disabled Creatives (DC) Universe. When Foster started talking to a few of her fellow neurodivergent (ND) writers, she realized that the disabled and ND communities are falling behind in the push to amplify underrepresented and marginalized writers and illustrators.
"Their stories are being told by non-disabled writers and are often only about a character's disability, struggle, and bullying," Foster noted, adding that there are frighteningly few disabled authors being traditionally published. So, she created the DC Universe to solve the issue.
"It's a mentoring program run by disabled and ND creatives and for disabled and ND creatives, and the aim is to help guide writers and illustrators who wish to pursue traditional publishing," said Foster.
There are two programs to choose from: the Justice League and the Titans. They officially open to applicants in January 2021 and hope to announce their list of mentors in the middle of December.
Those who are interested in learning more about DC Universe should visit disabledcreativesuniverse.weebly.com or their Twitter page @disabledmentors.