We’re so excited to welcome author Kate Scott whose novel COUNTING TO D was published this February by Elliot Books. And don’t forget, this title is being included in, not just one, but two prize packs this month! So make sure you enter to win!!
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
The kids at Sam’s school never knew if they should make fun of her for being too smart or too dumb. That’s what it means to be dyslexic, smart, and illiterate. Sam is sick of it. So when her mom gets a job in a faraway city, Sam decides not to tell anyone about her little illiteracy problem. Without her paradox of a reputation, she falls in with a new group of highly competitive friends who call themselves the Brain Trust. When she meets Nate, her charming valedictorian lab partner, she declares her new reality perfect. But in order to keep it that way, she has to keep her learning disability a secret. The books are stacked against her and so are the lies. Sam’s got to get the grades, get the guy, and get it straight—without being able to read.
A little bit about the author: Kate Scott lives in the suburbs outside Portland, Oregon with her husband Warren. Kate was diagnosed with dyslexia as a young child but somehow managed to fall in love with stories anyway. COUNTING TO D is her first novel. When Kate isn't writing, she enjoys listening to audiobooks, camping, and spending time with her friends and family. Kate also spends a lot of time doing math and sciency things and is a licensed professional engineer.
Jas Ketch (a.k.a. Kris F. Oliver): Welcome Kate! I can’t say what a pleasure it is to get to interview you for the YA Buccaneers. And I must start out by saying that I was very drawn to the premise of COUNTING TO D as my partner was diagnosed with a form of dyslexia as a child. He has had to struggle with a lot of misconceptions about dyslexia from educators as well as family and friends. What is one common misconception regarding dyslexia that you would like to dispel?
Kate: Many people believe dyslexics, as well as people with other learning disabilities, are unintelligent. This is not true.
Jas: I loved that in COUNTING TO D, you addressed dyslexia as a learning difference, rather than simply a learning disability. Your main character Samantha (or Sam) has a unique affinity for numbers. Do you think your dyslexia has given you a unique perspective in some aspect of your life?
Kate: While COUNTING TO D is fiction, I do have a lot in common with Samantha. The natural ability in math is one similarity. I don’t calculate exponents of seven in my head on a regular basis, but for my day job, I’m an engineer. Math has always been a lot easier for me than reading.
Another strength I believe I have gained from my dyslexia is my storytelling ability. Learning how to read late in life forced me to spend a lot of time developing my listening skills. My ability to internalize the stories I hear has translated into my writing in many unexpected ways.
Jas: Becoming a successful, published writer must have been incredibly challenging. What do you think was the most challenging thing for you on your journey to publication and which aspect do you think was the most rewarding?
Kate: I will never be a good speller, and this is one of the challenges I face as a dyslexic author that other writers don’t have to deal with. It’s always easy for me to relate to non-dyslexic writers, though, and the most honest answer to this question is probably also the most typical.
Learning how to navigate the changing publishing landscape and finding the right home for my words was definitely the biggest challenge. And the greatest reward? That happens every time a reader tells me he or she connected with my words.
Jas: I found Sam and Nate’s relationship in COUNTING TO D to be very unique compared to a lot of what we see in YA literature. You must have had a lot of fun writing such a sweet and authentic pairing. What would you say is your favorite aspect of Sam and Nate’s relationship?
Kate: I tried to make Sam and Nate’s relationship as authentic as I could. I have multiple friends who are currently married to their high school sweethearts, but I think that is the exception, not the norm. Sam and Nate aren’t soul mates. They are good friends who grow to love and support each other. Their relationship is never perfect, but I think it’s healthy. I hate reading YA romances about unhealthy relationships. I’m glad people appreciate my attempt to depict amiable behavior.
Jas: I think Nate is probably my favorite character in COUNTING TO D. I wish more boys in high school were like him. Which character in the book would you say is your favorite or was the most fun to write?
Kate: Hmm, that is very hard to answer. In COUNTING TO D, it was probably Samantha because this was her story. I am currently working on my second novel, which is also set at Kennedy High. Miles comes back as a much larger character in this next book. So at the moment, I’m pretty in love with Miles. He’s such a funny character. I love writing his dialogue.
Jas: Sam’s relationship with her father in COUNTING TO D is very complex. Do you think Sam realizing what her father was going through makes it easier for her to understand and possibly forgive him?
Kate: I think of COUNTING TO D as a brief chapter in Sam’s longer and more complicated life. While her relationship with her father is much stronger at the end of the story than it is at the beginning, I expect it would take years for any person to fully come to understand and forgive the type of behavior her father exhibits. My reason for bringing her dad back had a lot more to do with Sam than her father. She needed to see her dad in order to forgive and understand herself.
Jas: I thought the formation of the Brain Trust by some of Sam’s peers was an interesting obstacle in the book. Tell the truth, you are part of a secret Brain Trust aren’t you? *grins*
Kate: Most of my current friends are pretty darn smart, but they aren’t shallow enough to call themselves the Brain Trust. I actually based that group on the people I was friends with in high school. While I did have a few close friends in high school that I truly liked, most of my so-called “friends” were awful. The bitchy popular girl and the aggressive jock are common stereotypes, but I know from personal experience that nerds can be way more vicious.
Jas: One theme in COUNTING TO D, is the importance of true and authentic friends who are supportive and love the real you. Who would you consider one friend in your life that you simply could not do without?
Kate: I have a pretty fabulous husband. I definitely think of him as my best friend. While there are plenty of other people that I care about, he’s the only person I couldn’t imagine living without.
Jas: What do you know now, or have gained from life experience, that you would have loved to share with your teenage self?
Kate: I think this interview has already touched on it. I wasted too much energy trying to conform and stressing about superficial friendships as a teen. Accepting that a few very close friends can be far more valuable than a large group of frenemies is a lesson I could have learned a lot sooner.
Jas: What is one thing that you hope readers will take away from COUNTING TO D?
Kate: Being an individual is a good thing. Not everyone who reads COUNTING TO D will be dyslexic, but everyone will be an individual. Whatever makes you different also makes you special. So stop trying to put yourself in the box.
Jas: I couldn’t agree more. I think that might have been the most valuable lesson I learned in my teens as well. Realizing that you can be anything you want to be and be proud of being different is a truly liberating thing.
And remember folks how I said you could get your paws on Kate’s amazing book COUNTING TO D?!! Well, we’ve got two up for grabs this month, so don’t forget to enter! PLUS, we're giving away a signed copy of COUNTING TO D! (see raffle details below)