Q & A with Author Kate Louise
It was my pleasure to talk with author Kate Louise and learn about her work, her inspirations, and her favorite place for tea and cake! The original post appeared on September 12.
What were some of the books you most enjoyed as a child?
I loved Funny Bones and Winnie the Witch! And I was a big fan of Roald Dahl (especially Matlida) – I still am!
What influenced you to write Tough Cookie?
I had the idea at Christmastime. I was measuring ingredients for a batch of gingerbread cookies and wondered what a cookie character without sugar would do because they’d be unable to fulfill their cookie purpose without an important ingredient! I later changed the missing sugar to missing ginger, which is the most important ingredient of all for a gingerbread man.
You write picture books as well as young adult novels. Which came first? What is the biggest challenge in writing each? What is the biggest joy?
When I started writing, I knew I wanted to write young-adult fiction. So that came first. Writing picture books kind of felt like starting over again. It was scary, but exciting, too. And I could learn a lot from both and apply new skills to different projects.
Both have their charms and their tough moments. Writing novels can be really hard going at times when I get the feeling that I’m never going to make it to the end, or if I get myself tangled up somewhere along the way. I don’t get that feeling quite as much with picture books, though I would say they’re harder to write! To tell a story with a much, much smaller word count and to get used to letting the illustrations tell it too.
The biggest joy for me is always seeing the finished work. After putting so much into each project, getting it back as something I can hold in my hands and feel proud of is a great feeling.
Can you describe your writing space a little?
I can answer with a photo! Though, it depends when you catch me and how busy I am. Sometimes it can be piled up with books or notepads or pieces of paper and mugs of tea! My screen desktop (as you can see) can get pretty hectic sometimes too.
Since Tough Cookie is set in a bakery, I’m wondering if you have a favorite bakery and if so what is special about it?
Oh, nice question! My fave place to visit for tea and cake is a little farm shop tea room, where the cake is made by my friend Bethany at Picture Frame Puds and is seriously delicious! It has a lovely vibe and I can take my dog!
What are you working on next?
I’m working on The Pack, which is the sequel to my YA shape-shifter circus novel The Wanderers that came out last year.
Since this is a holiday-themed blog, I can’t let you get away without asking you a few holiday-related questions, so…
What is your favorite holiday?
It would have to be Christmas. But Halloween is a very close second.
Do you have an anecdote from any holiday you’d like to share?
I like to make a big deal about Halloween with movies, decorating, pumpkin carving, and themed baking. We’ve just started going to a pumpkin farm to pick the pumpkins ourselves too. There’s a corn maze and little wheelbarrows and the field stretches on forever. It’s a new tradition and a fun extra activity for us at Halloween.
Thanks, Kate! I wish you all the best with Tough Cookie, your other picture books, and your novels for young adults!
Tough Cookie can be found at:
Written by Kate Louise | Illustrated by Grace Sandford
Although one gingerbread man in the bakery looks like all the others, there is one important difference. Yes, the batter had “eggs and cinnamon and flour and butter and sugar—but wait! The baker forgot to add the ginger!” Without this signature ingredient the gingerbread man just doesn’t feel like a gingerbread man at all. In fact his whole life has been turned upside down. He’s different from his friends, and what’s worse, he can’t be sold. Instead, he lives in the back of the bakery and in his sadness makes all kinds of mischief.
The gingerbread man chases the cat, splatters icing on other cookies, and squirts icing on the walls. “‘I need that for my cupcakes!’” the baker yells, but the gingerbread man just laughs. He moves on to the decorative candies, stuffing them in his mouth as fast as he can even though the baker needs them for his other treats and stands by tapping his foot. Next the gingerbread man scatters sprinkles all over the counter and slips and slides along on his belly—“‘woohoo!’” But the baker is not amused. “‘I need those for the donuts!’” he shouts.
Finally, the baker has had enough. Not only is the gingerbread man upsetting the other gingerbread men and women, he is ruining the business. The baker orders the gingerbread man to leave the store. But this is one gingerbread man that does not want to run away. “‘I don’t want to leave!’” he cries. The baker relents. He takes the little cookie in hand and teaches him that even though he is missing an ingredient he can still be kind. The baker shows him by being nice he can become one of the group.
Now, the little gingerbread man is happy. Instead of gobbling up all the candy, he helps create the other cookies. He no longer shoots icing on the walls or flings sprinkles around the kitchen. Rather, he helps the baker decorate the cupcakes and the donuts. He’s even learned how to sift flour and roll out dough, and he uses the cookie cutter to make new friends. And he never forgets to add the ginger!
In her sweet story, Kate Louise reminds readers that true happiness comes from within and that each person can decide for themselves how to perceive the world around them. While each of us is human, we all have different ingredients that make us unique. We can use those qualities to be kind and make positive changes in the world. Kids will recognize and giggle at the mischief the little gingerbread man makes with icing and sprinkles, but will also realize that friendships are built by using that same energy to help others. Sometimes tough cookies are actually softies at heart.
Grace Sandford’s bakery gleams with the golden hues of fresh-baked bread, the festive colors of sprinkles and icing, and the sparkle of sugar. Kids will love the vibrant pictures of cupcakes; lollypops; stacks of cakes, donuts, and candy; and decorated gingerbread houses surrounded by cookie forests. Her expressive gingerbread men and women register dismay at the wayward gingerbread man’s shenanigans and joy at his kindness. And the hero of the story? When he leaves behind his impish pranks he becomes a charming baker’s companion, sifting clouds of flour, running on the rolling pin to flatten dough, and passing out sugar-shiny gumdrop buttons to his new friends.
Young children will ask for this fun and funny read over and over. Tough Cookie makes an especially delicious accompaniment to an afternoon of baking or decorating gingerbread houses!
Ages 3 – 6
Sky Pony Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1634501972
View the colorful world and signature style of Grace Sandford’s artwork on her website!
Gobble up this Tough Cookie book Trailer!
National Day of Encouragement Activity
Encourage your friends – and even strangers with these printable Kindness Cards! You can hand them to people and tell them how much they mean to you or slip them into a lunch bag, locker, shelf, backpack or other place and let the person discover a secret day brightener!
Thanks, Grace, for sharing about your work and your favorite places and pursuits! I wish you all the best with Tough Cookie and your other projects!