Closing the week on another author interview and today's guest is...well, in a nutshell, the absolute best and most awesome and has written the bestest of all the books.
Check it out!
Photo Credit: Jennifer Riley Photography
Kate Albus is the author of A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON (February 2, 2021 from Margaret Ferguson Books at Holiday House). Kate is originally from New York, but now lives in rural Maryland with her family. She was a research psychologist for many years before stepping away to be with her children. Other than writing, her favorite activities are reading, knitting, baking, and other pastimes that are inherently quiet.
Kate’s website: https://www.katealbus.com/
Cover art by Jane Newland
William, Edmund, and Anna aren’t terribly upset by the death of the not-so-grandmotherly grandmother who has taken care of them since their parents died. But the children do need a guardian, and in the dark days of World War II London, those are in short supply, especially if they hope to stay together. Could the mass wartime evacuation of children from London to the countryside be the answer? It’s a preposterous plan, but off they go – keeping their predicament a secret and hoping to be placed in a temporary home that ends up lasting forever. Moving from one billet to another, the children suffer the cruel trickery of foster brothers, the cold realities of outdoor toilets, and the hollowness of empty stomachs. They find comfort in the village lending library, whose kind librarian, Nora Müller, seems an excellent choice of billet – except that her German husband’s whereabouts are currently unknown, and some of the villagers consider her unsuitable.
Set against the backdrop of World War II England, A Place to Hang the Moon is a story about the dire importance of family: the one you’re given, and the one you choose.
To order A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON: https://holidayhouse.com/book/a-place-to-hang-the-moon/
Did you always dream of being a writer?
I’m almost ashamed to say this, but no! I was a psychologist for many years, working in research for most of that time, so I did a lot of science writing. As an avid reader, I suppose I did fantasize about writing creatively but always figured that doing such a thing would be like writing a scientific journal article; I thought that a novelist must have a whole story – the beginning, the middle, the end, and all the bits in between – outlined in her head before ever putting pen to paper. It was a real revelation for me to hear that many creative writers simply start with a premise and then let their characters say where they need to go. That revelation is what got me to sit down and start writing creatively.
When did you start pursuing publication of your work?
A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON is the first novel I ever wrote, but not the first one I queried. When I started querying in early 2018, A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON felt too close to my heart to consider putting out into the big, scary world, so I queried another story I’d written. I had a few nibbles and got some helpful feedback from a couple of agents, but I guess what that initial querying process really did for me was to get me comfortable with putting my words out into the universe for others to see. I started querying A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON at the beginning of 2019.
How long did it take from that first thought to release day?
Oh wow… I’ll have to do the math here… from my first query letter to the actual release date would be just about three years!
What's been the hardest part of publishing a book so far?
That’s a tough question, but a good one. I don’t mean to sound like a Pollyanna, but the process really has been pretty delightful. The fact that my story is going to be roaming around out there in the world brings me no end of joy, but I suppose in a way that’s also the scariest part. In writing a novel, you come to love your characters as if they were part of your family, so sending them off to fend for themselves is a bit daunting!
And the easiest, or most enjoyable?
Writing-wise, I love first drafts. I love losing myself in a story and just typing, without thought of how the words are going to sound on the other side. As far as the publication process, the most enjoyable part by far is the people. My dear agent, Kathryn Green, has been such a phenomenal sounding board through all of this, and having the incomparably kind Margaret Ferguson as an editor has been an absolute gift. And the friends I’ve made in the kid lit community are ones I’ll cherish forever.
What's next for you?
I’m working on another middle grade historical, also set during World War II, but this time in New York City. No news to share, other than the fact that I love it!
What's one piece of advice you'd give to writers just started their pursuit of publication?
Find your people! Like I said earlier, the middle grade writing community is incredibly kind and welcoming. I’ve been blown away, again and again, at how generous kid lit folks… yourself included, Kate… have been with their time, their knowledge, and their support.
Last book you just read?
AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS, by B.B. Alston
What book are you reading now?
An eARC of ALMOST FLYING, by Jake Maia Arlow
Best book you've ever read?
THE SPARROW, by Mary Doria Russell
Can’t choose just one. Dave Eggers, Colson Whitehead, Kate Atkinson and Mary Doria Russell in a four-way tie.
Best moment of your writing life?
Reading a draft of a new story to my kids for the first time
Name of your newest WIP?
Oooo… not sure I can share that yet! So sorry!
If not an author, what would be your dream job?
Broadway singer with nearly-paralyzing stage fright, if that’s a thing?
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