Posted on 10/08/2018 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
It’s a testament to Kate Forest that her characters, not she herself, have disabilities, yet she’s the beloved leader of an anthology empowering those with disabilities.
Her fellow author Tracee Lydia Garner suggested we interview her for National Disability Awareness Month, and a writer who happens to be blind — Laurie Alice Eakes — had no doubts about that anthology, which they dreamed up together.
Forest, a former social worker (and dating coach and pool saleswoman, apparently), has been able to parlay her professional experience into realistic and well-rounded characters, who just so happen to also have a mental or physical challenge.
Leading up to the release of the anthology Boundless Love, she spoke to us about becoming a writer.
SADYE: So what made you decide to start writing, in general?
KATE: My family is filled with storytellers.
Whether it’s gossip about a distant cousin, family history, or what happened while waiting on line in the grocery store, everything we do has a plot.
I dabbled in poetry when I was in college (who didn’t?), and I loved playing with words.
It wasn’t until I was burning out as a social worker that I realized I need to find something else to do.
Giving people happy-ever-afters appealed to me after a day of juvenile court.
SADYE: Would people who knew you as a youth have predicted you’d become a writer, then?
KATE: Most likely not.
I had a learning disability and couldn’t read until I was ten years old. School was not a fun place for me.
Not to mention, I missed out on all the Judy Blume books everyone was reading in fifth grade.
SADYE: And specifically, what inspired you to include main characters with disabilities?
KATE: As a social worker, I've been fortunate to know people who cope with many different disabilities.
These people were invisible in romance books or used as "props" for main characters.
When I decided to write, I knew I wanted to give happy-ever-afters to characters who don't usually get a voice.
SADYE: What kind of feedback have you received on those characters?
KATE: Generally very positive. Readers are thrilled to discover heroes and heroines that they don’t typically see.
They also tell me they like learning a little something along with the romance.
I have had great feedback from special-education teachers, people on the spectrum, and parents whose kids are coping with some of these issues.
SADYE: What led you from writing standalone works to organizing an anthology?
KATE: Laurie Alice Eakes and I were having coffee at the Romance Writers of America conference.
We were lamenting the lack of stories that feature characters with disabilities. Editors and agents had told us that those stories wouldn’t sell.
It seemed like a natural thing to do.
SADYE: What have been the most surprising, challenging, and rewarding parts of being a writer?
KATE: I never thought I would have to defend my writing.
I was surprised by the challenge of confronting people who say things like “Are you going to write a real book?” “Oh, I don’t read those kind of books.” “I guess if you follow a formula it’s pretty easy.”
These types of statements are generally said by people who have never read a romance and never tried to write a book.
I’ve been learning to respond with calm and reasoned logic (most of the time).
The most surprising reward is the community of writers I have found.
There’s a sisterhood (because it’s mostly women who write romance) that is so supportive.
I’ve never worked with a more loving, nurturing group of people. I’m lucky.
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Categories: Author Interview