Monday, June 17, 2013


Today's special guest on Books by Banister is the fun and fabulous Canadian author Kate Hilton. We connected on Goodreads and discovered that we share a mutual love of Women's Fic and Chick Lit. Kate's publishing journey is such an interesting one that I invited her here to talk about it. Read on to learn more about Kate's debut novel, The Hole in the Middle, which I'm sure you'll all agree looks amazing!

1) Can you give us a brief overview of The Hole in the Middle?

The Hole in the Middle is the story of Sophie Whelan, a working mom approaching her 40th birthday who begins to wonder about the choices she has made in life and love.  Over the course of a very bad week, she grapples with workplace politics, daycare woes, marital strife and the return of Will Shannon, the great, unresolved romance of her college years.  It’s ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’ for the ‘This is 40’ generation.

2) What's your favorite quality about your heroine/hero?

I think Sophie has a distinctive voice that stays with the reader.  She’s funny, sharply observant and just a bit neurotic.  I’d like to have dinner with her sometime – she’s great company.

3) What made you want to write The Hole in the Middle? 

I’d wanted to write a novel for years, but I didn’t have a story to tell.  Then, just before my 38th birthday, the story arrived in the form of a character, Lil Parker.  I couldn’t get her and her fox stole out of my head, and the novel evolved from there. Once I got started, though, I wanted to write a book for women in my own generation (Generation X) who were juggling the demands of work and family.

4) How long did it take you to write The Hole in the Middle? What is your writing process like?

From beginning to end, it took around three years.  Because I’ve had a day job throughout, I’m very disciplined about my writing.  I have time blocked off each week and I’m zealous about preserving it.  I also work from an outline so that I know exactly where I’m going in each chapter. 

5) If Hollywood comes calling and asks you to sign over the movie rights for The Hole in the Middle, who would you like to see play Sophie and Will on the big screen?

I love this question!  Ian Somerhalder for Will, without question.  Sophie?  Drew Barrymore.

6) How do you think of titles?

To be frank, choosing titles is not something that I’m especially good at.  I went through multiple titles for The Hole in the Middle – you can tell me if I got it right in the end!

7) Tell us about your cover art design. How did you come up with the concept? Did you execute it yourself or have a professional do it?

I wanted a crisp, fun, modern look.  I hired a professional designer to help me with it.  True confession: HarperCollins is redoing the cover and the donut is going.  I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

8) The Hole in the Middle was originally self-published, then it was picked up by HarperCollins. Can you tell us more about your journey with this book and do you have any advice for indie authors who'd like to hook up with a publisher?

Like many aspiring writers, I didn’t set out to self-publish.  I began by querying agents in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. (15-20 of them.)  I had requests for a full manuscript from two of them, which was encouraging, but ultimately the book was rejected.  I started to get interested in the self-publishing phenomenon as a way of building a brand for myself, since it seemed to me that being a completely unknown writer made it almost impossible to get noticed by agents. 

I did my research and launched my book as part of the Amazon KDP program.  I worked hard to promote The Hole in the Middle through social media, and was very excited when I had 12,000 downloads on my first ‘free download’ weekend.  The book found its way into the hands of the fabulous Roberta Rich, author of The Midwife of Venice.  She loved it and contacted me to see if I would mind her showing it to her agent, Beverley Slopen.  (I didn’t mind.)

Beverley signed me and almost immediately sold The Hole in the Middle to HarperCollins Canada, which still feels like a fairy tale to me.

The best advice I can offer aspiring writers is to ignore what is popular.  Don’t write for the market.  Write the book that you want to read.  And then, once you’ve written that book, take a deep breath and put yourself and your work out there.  At the very least, people will be impressed with your courage and you’ll connect with many other aspiring writers who will be an important support network for you.

9) What are your thoughts on love scenes in books? Do you prefer to read/write sweet/romantic encounters between your hero and heroine or spicy ones?

I love them all.  My own writing tends toward the sweet rather than the spicy, but who knows?  Perhaps I have a spicier book in me.

10) What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m doing a few edits to The Hole in the Middle for HarperCollins.  It’s coming out in paper in December.  I haven’t started on my next book yet, but I’m playing with a few ideas.

11) Who are the authors who inspire you?

All authors inspire me.  Writing is a tough business, and sharing your work with the world is a real act of bravery.  Having said that, I’ve been inspired by Lionel Shriver, Jane Austen, Jonathan Franzen, A.S. Byatt, Nora Ephron, Nick Hornby, Kate Atkinson, Helen Fielding and Allison Pearson, among many others.

12) What genres do you like to read? Do you stick to one or are you eclectic in your reading tastes?

My tastes are extremely eclectic.  I read literary fiction and genre fiction in equal measures.  I actually wrote a blog about my reading habits.

13) What was the last book you read that really WOWed you?

I just finished reading The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.  The protagonist, Don Tillman, was one of the most engaging and unexpected characters I’ve encountered in a long time. 

14) If you could be plopped down in the middle of any book, which one would it be?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  I’d love to meet some witches and vampires that you could have an intelligent conversation with.


15) If you could invite any five people (living or dead) over for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

1. Jennifer Weiner, because she is so smart and interesting (and right) on issues of women’s fiction and how it is perceived;
2. P.D. James, because she is still producing amazing books in her nineties;
3. Mark Bittman, because he is my food idol and he taught me how to cook with his amazing cookbook, How To Cook Everything (the title says it all);
4.  Allison Pearson, because she was the first person to prove that working mothers were worthy subjects of fiction; and
5.  Tina Fey, because she cracks me up.

Fast and Flirty 

Favorite scent?  Lilac
Favorite color?  Indigo
Favorite food?  Guacamole
Favorite word?  Writer
Favorite article of clothing?  Whatever necklace I just bought on Etsy
Dream vacation spot? 
Favorite time period in history?  Right now
Favorite girls’ night out drink?  Pink champagne
Favorite date night activity?  A long dinner in a quiet restaurant with a good wine list
Favorite song?  Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield
Celebrity hottie on your laminated list?  Ian Somerhalder
Novel hero crush?  Matthew Clairmont, the sexy and brilliant vampire in A Discovery of Witches

Author Bio:  Kate Hilton has worked in law, higher education, pub­lic relations, fundraising and publishing. She has an English degree from McGill University and a law degree from the Uni­versity of Toronto. She holds down a day job, volunteers for community organizations, raises two boys, cooks, collects art, reads voraciously and likes her husband. In her free time, she writes. On good days, she thinks she might have it all. On bad days, she wants a nap. 

Book Blurb:  Sophie Whelan is the epitome of the modern super woman. When she operates at peak performance, she can cajole balky employees, soothe her cranky children, trouble-shoot career disasters, throw a dinner party for 10, and draft an upbeat Christmas letter—all in the same day.

But as Sophie’s 40th birthday looms, her seamless life reveals disturbing web-like fractures. Conflict with her boss, blossoming jealousy of her husband’s femme fatale business partner, and her feelings of hopeless inadequacy as a mother and daughter, are cracking the edifice of her life.

Rescue may be at hand when Lillian Parker, a wealthy widow who befriended Sophie during her university days, makes Sophie an irresistible offer. Why, then, does Sophie hesitate? The answer is the reappearance of Lillian’s nephew, Will Shannon, the great unresolved love of Sophie’s life. As she remembers the vivid drama of their college romance, Sophie confronts the choices she has made in life and in love and looks for the one answer that has always eluded her: what does she really want?

The Hole in the Middle is a heartbreaking love story, a laugh-out-loud portrayal of the twin demands of work and family, and a fresh take on the hot debate about having it all.

Buy The Hole in the Middle:


Connect with Kate Hilton:





  1. First of all, Kate, congrats on all of your success! The book is waiting for me on my Kindle, and I can't wait to read it. I must admit that I read the acknowledgements already (as I usually do), and I'm amazed how many people we know in common! I'm so happy to meet a fellow Canadian writer. I totally agree on dinner with Jennifer Weiner, by the way. I revere her.

  2. Thanks so much, Sam. I've loaded up Finding Lucas and am taking it with me on vacation - can't wait.

  3. Tracie - thanks so much for featuring Kate and her story! Kate, I just downloaded your book and am looking forward to reading it. I really enjoyed reading about your journey from self-publishing to being an agented and then trad published author! Very cool and congratulations! I can identify a lot with your experience (well, at the least the first half!) and enjoyed your advice to authors. Well said. Being an author (self pub - just launched Kindle version of On Grace, paperback coming next week) who is writing for the same demographic about a heroine on the verge of 40, I am very inspired by your story! Best wishes for much continued success!!

  4. Great to connect with you, Susie. One of the best parts of my experience has been discovering such a warm and supportive community of women writers. I learn so much from all of you. I hope you enjoy the book, and best of luck with the launch of On Grace.