Category: Newsletter

Updates on writing, reading, and adventures between. <3

January 2024: Greeting the Year

January 2024: Greeting the Year

Hello pals!

I hope you’ve all had some time for rest and joy over the winter break. We decided to stay in Edinburgh for the festive period, and it was so lovely being at tourist at home and catching up with pals. I went for my first run and yoga sessions since becoming unwell and it was great to gently become refamiliar with my body’s movements. This month is full of wonderful book events for author pals and it’s such a delight to get together and celebrate.

Writing

Print and e-book cover wraparound for To Root Somewhere Beautiful anthology showing a reclaimed urban space covered in moss, vines, and flowers
Cover artwork by Chris Yarbrough

2023 was full of some real challenges to my mental and physical health, but also the highest of highs with [redacted] news about hijinks on the high seas, a Hugo nomination for my work with khōréō, and two successful Kickstarters for anthologies including my short stories ‘Mango Heart’ (March) and ‘Remain Nameless’ (October). I’m working on revisions for book one of my seafaring duology, and dreaming of warmer climes and summer.

You can pre-order To Root Somewhere Beautiful in print or e-book to read ‘Mango Heart’, publishing March 5th.

Reading

The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon

I had the pleasure of meeting Thea at her Glasgow launch and was so excited for a high fantasy with nods to Filipino culture and history, and of course a spicy enemies-to-lovers trope. This was such an immersive read following Talasyn and Alaric, a soldier and prince respectively on opposite sides of a war and reluctantly united by their twin complementary powers. Slow-burn romance, courtly intrigue, and a fascinating magic system. Guanzon and this novel have their roots deep in the fandom community, particularly Star Wars, and it’s lovely to see how much fun she has subverting tropes and playing with reader expections.

The Guests by Agnes Ravatn, translated by Rosie Hedger

I picked up this Norwegian psychological suspense as I’m delighted to be chairing Agnes at Granite Noir in February. This slim novel follows Karin and Kai, an unlikely married couple on a vacation at the luxurious summer home of Karin’s old school frenemy Iris. They encounter a reclusive couple of famous writers and tell a white lie which spirals out of control. Ravatn explores themes of comparanoia and class divide with insightful precision, letting the reader inhabit the strained dissatisfaction of Karin’s inner thoughts. I also couldn’t resist the subplot of a successful novelist struggling with writer’s block.

Bookshops and Bonedust by Travis Baldree

I adored Legends and Lattes and thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Travis for Cymera last year. This is a prequel, following Viv as she’s hauled up with an injury in the sleep coastal town of Murk. She encounters a cast of colourful characters including mouthy ratkin bookshop owner Fern and her adorable griffin Potroast. I enjoyed so many of the characters and Viv’s internal struggle with finding herself and not being that person yet was very compelling. While not quite as beloved for me as its sequel, I found this so comforting, funny, and sweet. The audio is read by the author who is a professional narrator, and I had the best time soaking in a bubble bath and listening to the adventures unfold.

Stigma by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, translated by Megan Turney

The fourth in a Norwegian crime series following former detective Alexander Blix and journalist Emma Ramm, this can be read as a standalone as the case is wrapped up in this novel. Despite Blix and Ramm being the protagonists, the reader spends tme in the minds of Samantha and Walter, who crossed paths as teenagers during a summer which changed both their lives. I often struggle with crime fiction (and media generally) which portrays violence against women and it’s integral to this novel’s plot. There’s also some discussions of addiction, mental disability, death of a child, physical violence, and corruption within the justice system. It was a gripping read with a tightly constructed plot and well-drawn character studies and plenty to interrogate for our panel at Granite Noir.

Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura, translated by Mark Ealey

I’m learning Japanese (very slowly!) and have been seeking out more fiction in translation, so I finally picked up this novel which had been unloved on my bookshelf. This sparse piece of literary fiction follows young boy Isaku in a medieval fishing village where survival is key and the most bounty is gained by luring ships to wreck using salt fires. Certainly a bleak read, but strangely cathartic and it was refreshing to read some historical fiction again.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Return of the King by J.R.R Tolkien

I continued my delightful journey through middle-earth listening to the incredibly talented Andy Serkis. He makes even the excessive tangents into logistics and the umpteenth song enjoyable and his talent for conveying the characters and the world are second to none. Some of my favourite parts include Serkis voicing Theoden’s transformation after being freed from Sauron’s grasp, Pippin’s impression of Gandalf, and of course his iconic voicing of Gollum. It’s been surprisingly useful paying attention to the sense of scale and minutaie of middle-earth for my own world-building.

Off Page: Events

Katalina Watt reading from Femme Fatale anthology at Nighttime Noir panel wearing turquoise velvet dress and sitting on black leather sofa
Nighttime Noir at Granite Noir 2023, photography by Richard Frew

I’m back at one of my favourite Scottish book festivals: Granite Noir! This year I’m chairing Norwegian Noir with Agnes Ravatn and Jørn Lier Horst and A Damaged World with Kate Simant, Lauren James, and Oisín McGann. I’m also appearing as a panellist at the Nighttime Noir panel with Scottish BPOC Writers Network. Join me 22nd-24th February in Aberdeen to delve into the darker parts of our world and perhaps find a glimmer of hope.

Until February, stay soft, light, slow,

Kat x

December 2023: Glitter and Velvet

December 2023: Glitter and Velvet

Hello pals!

Important news: Tinyletter’s parent company Mailchimp have decided to close Tinyletter, which feels like the end of an internet era. Therefore, this newsletter will be moving to my website. You should automatically be transferred over and as always you’re welcome to unsubscribe anytime if you no longer want to receive Soft Light Slow. Apologies, as that may mean you get this month’s newsletter from both Tinyletter and WordPress.

Writing:
I’m so pleased to share Haunted Hallways was successfully fully funded and will be published in October 2024. More exciting secret things have been happening behind the scenes for hijinks on the high seas novel.
I’ve also starting working slowly on something new: a theme park horror novel set between the 1980s and 1990s. It’s about the beautiful nightmare of capitalist consumption, sisterhood, and the joy and toxicity of teenage friendships. Here’s a taster of the aesthetic:

80s aesthet

Reading:

This month’s reading is probably the year’s most eclectic.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
I think the atmospher of Garland’s film adaptation (of which I was a fan prior to reading the book) captures the style of VanderMeer’s novel well. Our narrator is an unnamed biologist who is part of an expert team of women sent into the enigmatic Area X. The previous expeditions have ended in bizarre tragedies, but the narrator is harbouring a secret: her husband was on one of the previous missions and came back – wrong. It’s a surreal story with lush prose and uncanny imagery.

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears
Baby One More Time was one of the first songs I remember hearing on the radio and I’ve been a Britney fan ever since. Coming of age in the 00s was a difficult experience and reflecting back on the cruelty around mental health and the misogynistic framework of so many cultural conversations at the time was fascinating andcathartic. The clear-eyed level-headedness in Spears’ writing and the grace with which she reflects on the past were really striking and I was glad to hear it in her own words after she was silenced for so long. I listened to the audiobook, deftly read by Michelle Williams with the introduction by the author herself.

Emma by Jane Austen
This one is a beloved regular re-read and my favourite Austen novel. My fiance hadn’t read it, despite seeing countless adaptations, so we’ve been reading it together – or rather I’ve been reading it aloud to him. It’s terribly fun for me and I think one of the liveliest ways to read Austen. For those unfamiliar, the story follows Emma Woodhouse as she meddles in the personal lives of her social circle to much heartbreak and hilarity. It’s incredibly funny, with some of the sharpest retorts, comedies of error, and excellent romantic speeches.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
I had the pleasure of Andy Serkis reading this beast of a fantasy classic to me. I associate this time of year with The Lord of the Rings and it was fun to compare the film adaptations with the source material. I enjoy how much Tolkien is a fan of logistics and getting lost in the detail of his world-building. This makes for excellent bedtime or bathtime reading (perhaps slightly sped-up) and I was thoroughly whisked away on the advneture.

Botanical Curses and Poisons: The Shadow-Lives of Plants by Fez Inkwright
One of my WIPs features botanical poisons and since becoming more actively interested in all things witchy and occult, I’ve been particuarly interested in herblore. This is a brief history and alphabetical index of a selection of plants and their uses, predominantly when used for harm. It was less narrative than I prefer in my non-fiction but I found the historical anecdotes intriguing and it was certainly educational.

Til next year stay soft light slow,
Kat x

November 2023: Alright Then, Keep Your Secrets

November 2023: Alright Then, Keep Your Secrets

Hello pals!

“I recall late November, holding my breath” – Call It What You Want. A fun non-writing update is I’ve launched a podcast with my pal all about the life and lyrics of Taylor Swift: Swift Tea.

I’ve also been greatly enjoying excellent book events including It Came From the Closet, the Glasgow launch of The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon, and a plethora of fantastic panels from Radical Book Fair. This month is also the Cymera Writers’ Conference, which is sure to be a delight.

Writing:

Publishing is such a hurry-up-and-wait type of business, and the past wee while has been much waiting and anticipating and fretting. I am SO excited to be able to say vague publishing news! I can’t wait to share more details with you as soon as I can.

On Samhain, I could finally announce Haunted Hallways, a shared-world academic horror anthology by Asian authors featuring my story about female rage ‘Remain Nameless’. The cover is so eerie and evocative and I’m delighted to share a ToC with so many cool authors. It’s coming October 2024 and the Kickstarter closes at the end of November. I’m so proud of this dark cathartic story so please share and support if you can!

Reading:

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey
I was skeptical going into this one but found it so darkly humorous! Heisey was one of the writers on the Canadian comedy show Schitt’s Creek to give you a sense of the tone, and this is an auto-fictional take on her ‘young divorce’ and the fall-out of finding yourself in your late twenties/early thirties. I thought this might be the type of ‘millennial ennui’ novel I find frustratingly navel-gazing but there’s plenty of bitterly funny moments, and refreshing self-deprecating turns of plot that make me root for the protagonist so much (even though she’s a bit of a hot mess). Made the autumnal commutes a bit less dreary.

My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley
I picked this up thinking it was a gothic or horror novel, but it was a surprising gem of a literary novel about difficult familial relationships. We follow Bridget as she reflects on her fraught relationship with her mother throughout her life. Bridget’s father and less so her sister are in the periphery of the novel and there’s such desperation aching between the lines. This is one of the most full and complex character studies of a parent-child relationship, exploring the helplessness we feel when our loved ones become older or fall ill, our neurosis and theirs, and how we mold ourselves and our lives after we leave home. A piercing and cathartic read.

Til December stay soft, light, slow,
Kat x

October 2023: Bodies

October 2023: Bodies

Hello pals,

The recent weeks have been thrown into chaos after an unexpected medical emergency. I’m so grateful to the NHS and my support network, and am now following my care plan and taking each day as it comes.
To that end I’ve been thinking a lot about bodies and how I talk about them in my work, particularly as a writer of speculative fiction. It manifests in different ways in everything I write, but I’m finding new perspective and catharsis. I’ve also been finding levity in the situation by making wry jokes linking going on submission with my hospitalisation.

Writing:
‘Mango Heart’ is a story very much about illness, grief, and healing and it feels strange to be promoting it while in the midst of my own health reflections. That being said, I’m so glad it found the right home and even though it’s a poignant story I also wanted to streak golden flecks of hope throughout. The Kickstarter closes very soon, so please share and support if you can.

‘Remain Nameless’ is my 1990s religious horror set in a Catholic girl’s school, and after seeing the proofs for the anthology, I’ll finally be able to share details about it’s forthcoming publication later this month!

The seafaring novel has been on submission for a few weeks and we’ve received so much exciting and lovely feedback from editors. While I can’t say anything yet, I’m hoping to share more news very soon!

Reading:
Morbid Obsessions by Frankie Miren and Alison Rumfitt
This strange little book was our Queen Fiction Book Club pick and it definitely piqued my interest in reading ‘The Service’ by Frankie Miren and even more keen for Rumfitt’s forthcoming sophomore novel ‘Brainwyrms’. Cipher Press are doing such fascinating publishing. I found the format – a mixture of polemic, interviews, and short stories united by discussions of sex worker and trans rights and the intersection of both – somewhat jarring. It was a taster of so many different things, I almost wished the book had been longer with a wee bit more cohesion. That being said, it’s certainly a work I’ll be recommending to everyone.

Bunny by Mona Awad
Speaking of strange and slightly jarring, I had no idea what a thrill ride ‘Bunny’ was going to be. I was familiar with Awad from my time as a bookseller in Canada, but didn’t expect this novel’s horror and humor to be so on point. Bunny is a campus novel about an MFA cohort from hell which quickly descends into fever-dream levels of body horror and fucked-up sisterhood. The audiobook was deliciously well-narrated and I think I enjoyed this bizarre adventure. It’s certainly Doing Something – fearlessly, grotesquely – but I’m still reeling trying to figure out exactly what.

The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell
I really enjoy Purcell’s flavour of historical Gothic writing, and it was a pleasure to delve into the world of the stage and all its superstitions. The story follows Jenny, a dresser at a London theatre, trying to pick up the pieces after her brother steals away with the family savings in pursuit of a glittering life. Purcell did a great job creating intricate morally grey characters with their own plans and agendas. She’s a master of creeping dread and unbearable tension, and here it was mixed with the myth and mystery of the stage to excellent effect.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
This was a short novel which teased a world and characters I’d love to spend more time with. I’ve enjoyed ‘Home’ by Gailey and this is their love letter/subversion of pulp Westerns. Queer librarians in a future American Southwest, a ragtag crew on the run, and a protagonist working through their own identity and finding love and belonging. I adored the elements, I just wanted a bit more time to let everything breathe – it was over too soon!

Events:
I’ve been thinking a lot about non-Western and queer vampirism, and more recently the knife-edge of life and death, resurrection, and the abject – particularly blood. I’m excited to join a panel for Writing the Occult: Vampires with a stellar line-up: Jewelle Gomez, A.W. Earl, Scott J Moses, chaired by Rebecca Wojturska.

Join us on Saturday 28 October for Writing the Occult: Vampires and our panel Tropes: Re-Vamped to round off the conference at 8pm.

Until November, stay soft, light, slow,
Kat x

September 2023: Deep Breath Before the Plunge

September 2023: Deep Breath Before the Plunge

Hi pals,

August was a beautiful culture haze of Fringe, book events, and international professional exchanges and I was happy to bask in it. Now I’m glad to be in the onset of autumn, a time where I feel my creative energy building.

Writing:
I have completed the final draft (for now) of hijinks on the high seas!! My agent has sent out the pitch to editors, which means I’m officially on submission! And very aptly on International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Hopefully it finds the right home and readers, but whatever happens next I’m so proud of this novel and had a whale of a time writing it. This project contains some of my most ambitious world-building and has allowed me to experiment and remember the joy of discovery and play.

I’m delighted to finally share the Kickstarter launch for To Root Somewhere Beautiful featuring my story ‘Mango Heart’. Check out the beautiful cover below! It’s an eco fiction anthology featuring authors traditionally underrepresented in nature writing, and my story focuses on a queer couple navigating grief and joy at the end of one of their lives. Or fondly: ‘sad lesbians by the sea’. We only have 30 days to raise ‘all or nothing’ funds, so I’m hugely grateful to everyone who shares and supports the anthology. I’m overjoyed to be sharing these pages with some of my most admired peers who are creating such exciting work.


Reading:
Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail by Ashley Herring Blake
I had so much fun with Delilah Green Doesn’t Care and I’m happy to see more shared universe romantic comedy novels. We’re back in Bright Falls, following Delilah’s step-sister Astrid after the nuptial fall-out of the first novel. It was so nice to hang out with the pals again and a queer romance about figuring it out later in life and second chances at happiness made me so soft and hopeful. Baking, interior design, and meet uglies to boot. A little bit of spice and a lot of heart.

Marikit and the Ocean of Stars by Caris Avendaño Cruz
A quest adventure, beautiful and complex family dynamics – particular mother-daughter, and so much heart and magic Marikit lives with her mother, a skilled seamstress struggling to make ends meet after the death of Marikit’s father and brother. Marikit wishes for a pretty outfit for her tenth birthday and is disappointed by the recycled patchwork dress her mother makes instead. But she realises there’s more to the dress, her mother, and the stories she’s heard about magical beings.

What Moves the Dead by T Kingfisher
A genderqueer retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher, this short atmospheric novel hits the mark, especially if you’re a fan of the mycological horror of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic. I read Poe’s short story as a (morbid) child, but you don’t need to be familiar with the original to enjoy Kingfisher’s retelling. The unnamed narrator is a genderqueer soldier who answers their friend’s letter and arrives at the moldering Usher estate to tend the ill – their childhood friends, siblings Madeline and Roderik Usher.

Children of Paradise by Camila Grudova
I’ve been waiting for the next book by Camila since loving The Doll’s Alphabet, her short story collection. This is a strange fever dream of a novel following a group of cinema workers at the Paradise filmhouse, a decrepit movie theatre long past the glamour of its prime. There’s much which will resonate with anyone who’s worked in customer-facing roles in hospitality or retail: co-dependent bonds forged through a love of cinema in the fire of toxic workplace environments.

Events:
I’m still on a break from chairing but delighted to be invited to a panel exploring the vampire in fiction for Writing the Occult. I’m on the panel I’ve fondly nicknamed Tropes: Re-Vamped alongside Jewelle Gomez, A.W. Earl, Scott J. Moses, and chaired by Rebecca Wojturska of Haunt Publishing. Join us on Saturday October 28th at 8pm UK time.

I’m so excited we’re in autumn and the lead-up to Halloween, my absolute favourite time of the year.

Til October, stay soft, light, slow,
Kat x

August 2023: The City is Loud

August 2023: The City is Loud

Hello pals!

Things have ramped up for me since returning to Edinburgh. I held my breath at the end of July, waiting for the waves of wonder and overwhelm which accompany August in this city. There’s an abundance of arts festivals and I’m involved in lots of events for work plus supporting friends and peers. I’m doing a reading at an event for Edinburgh International Book Festival, details below!

Writing
I’m working on the final touches for Book 1 after feedback from my agent and looks like we’ll be ready to submit to publishers imminently. It’s both exciting and terrifying – hopefully more news soon!

I’ve been keen to work on materials for Book 2 while still immersed in the world, creating world ‘bibles’ for the two new places our characters will be exploring. It’s been so fun experimenting with societal structures and landscapes and thinking about how they will feed into the plot of Book 2, which takes place some years after the first book and will be more epic in scale.

Reading
Again another (very) light reading month, mostly because I’ve been working on my novel and attending lots of arts events!

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
For years folk have recommended this to me and after loving the Monk and Robot novellas, I decided to dive into the first book in the Wayfarers series. It was everything. I read this one slowly, savouring it like a warm homecooked meal. It’s been fascinating working my way back to this book after reading other books touched by its magic. I was impressed by Chambers’ world-building, especially around alien life-forms, which is done with both deft and respect. Her weaving of political tensions was also done with nuance and balance. I’m kicking myself for waiting this long to get to it and will definitely be picking up the rest of the series!

Events
Scottish BPOC Writers Network invited me to read at Our City, Our Stories on Friday 25th and I’ll be sharing a stage with some of my favourite literary folks. I’m planning to share the opening of my Edinburgh-set Gothic-Fantasy Victorian sapphic WIP, which is my next big project. The event is free but ticketed and I’m so looking forward to it!

Until September, stay soft, light, slow,
Kat x

July 2023: By Turns Slow and Spontaneous

July 2023: By Turns Slow and Spontaneous

Hello pals!

July has seen me on the mend, slowly coming back to myself. I took a spontaneous trip with my fiancé to Gothenburg in Sweden full of many delights including writing research opportunities at the Maritime Museum and Aquarium and Lisenburg: a theme park established in 1923. Many of these details have made their way into hijinks on the high seas novel and a backburner theme-park horror project!

Writing
I'm currently on a wee writing retreat by the Scottish coast with a fellow writer, which has been such a balm. I'm absolutely ecstatic to have completed the second draft of my seafaring novel! These revisions have really helped me hammer it all into shape, especially thanks to my agent's frustratingly astute comments on worldbuilding and the logistics of sailing. It's been a heady combination of steady plodding and flurries of inspiration. I'm going to let this draft breathe, and ride this feeling for a bit before sending it off.

Reading
This month's been fairly light on reading as I've replaced much of my reading time with podcasts and video games.

This is My Body, Given For You by Heather Parry
Ever since sharing a stage with Heather, I knew we were swimming in similar strange waters. I keep coming back to many themes in this collection in my own writing – femininity, eroticism, queer parenthood, abject, body horror, monstrosity, religion, and identity. The titular story is a stand-out for me but the whole collection is darkly comedic, visceral, and disgusting in all the best ways.

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
I had been buzzing for this book ever since I heard about it. I was familiar with Kuang's other work, having chaired her for The Poppy War and enjoyed Babel. I read this addictive and pacey literary thriller in a couple of days. If you live for Twitterati drama or devoured Cat Person and Bad Art Friend, check out Kuang's heady cocktail of unlikeable characters, unreliable narrators, and a meta evisceration/dissection of the ugly sides of writing and publishing.

Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval
I read this in a couple of sittings in Sweden and enjoyed the lyrical dream-like quality of the prose, which is translated from Norwegian by Marjam Idriss. The story follows international biology student Jo as she studies abroad and is enveloped into an intoxicating relationship with her flatmate Carral. It's visceral, abject, and perfectly encapsulates toxic queer longing, disconnect, and morbid obsession all in a bite-sized surreal reading experience.

Next month is a busy one as I'm phasing back to work and will be around the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Fringe.

Until August, stay soft, light, slow
Kat x

June 2023: Weighted Blanket

June 2023: Weighted Blanket

Hello pals,

This missive is going to brief because frankly, I'm Not Doing so Well. This newsletter will have some chat about mental health, so please take care of yourself.

I had a wonderful time at Cymera and chairing Juno Dawson, but something finally gave way. Burn-out and anxiety have dogged my heels often and I realised I've been taking from the proverbial well faster than I can refill it.

I've put down some of my commitments for now and have the professional and personal support I need – I'm on strict orders to Rest! I'm enjoying a softness I seldom allow myself to feel, indulging in joyful things that are purely fun and for me. I'm seeing friends, reading, and enjoying the sunshine. I'm still working on quieting the inner critic and gently writing when I'm inspired and motivated to.

Short and bittersweet.

Til July, stay soft, light, and, slow (and I'll try to do the same),
Kat x

May 2023: The Three Rs – Rest, Recuperation, and Reading

May 2023: The Three Rs – Rest, Recuperation, and Reading

Hello pals!

April was a beautiful whirlwind of travel and events and I’m taking May to recuperate and spend more time with my writing projects and a delicious stack of reading!

Writing:
I didn’t have much time to write in April and I’ve been so keen to get back to writing my high seas high fantasy – I’m aiming to get the second draft to my agent by the end of June. Going back through it feels like sculpting and I’m so excited with how it’s taking shape – especially as the story turns out to be a duology! It’s been fun to create worldbuilding bibles and start to dream up the sequel.

Reading:
Before and After the Book Deal by Courtney Maum

This has been on my radar for a while and was incredibly insightful and funny in equal measure. The book is covers the gamut of writing, publishing, promoting, and surviving a book launch packed with anecdotes from publishing experts including authors, agents, and publishers. It’s a balm for an industry that is still lacking in transparency and information and I’d recommend it to every author at any stage of their career.

The Shadow Cabinet (Her Majesty’s Royal Coven #2) by Juno Dawson
I adored the first book in this series – sharply hilarious and a gorgeous love letter to female friendship. An urban fantasy set in an alternate England which has a secret government bureau of witches – Her Majesty’s Royal Coven. There’s politiking, old grudges and bonds, and many a ’90s throwback. If like me you had your jaw on the floor at the end of the first book, you will not be disappointed in Dawson picking up the action and filling out the world and characters’ backstories and relationships even more deeply.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Fairies by Heather Fawcett
This book is cosy in places but also dark in others – a historical fantasy with some unexpected surprises and the way this story slowly unfurled and let me sink into it was just divine. Featuring fae, academic rivalries, and really fun experiments in form including epistolary sections through the protagonist’s diary and her field notes as she compiles her encyclopedia of fairy lore.

Song of the Mango and Other New Myths by Vida Cruz-Borja
It’s no secret that I’m a devotee of the short story and I’ve been anticipating this collection from Cruz-Borja for a while! It’s deeply joyful for me to read speculative stories by other Filipino authors and these stories range across gothic, fantasy, and sci-fi showcasing the breadth and depth of the author’s language and imagination. I loved the play with form such as newspaper articles and the author’s concept of a ‘new myth’ mixing folklore and visions of future worlds.

White Cat, Black Dog by Kelly Link
Link is a titan in the short story form and it’s been quite a wait for fans for her new collection. These stories are bizarre and delicious, keeping me on my toes as a reader with the lyrical writing and mixing the macabre, surreal, and the modern. It’s a pleasure to watch a writer in the element of their craft and I continue to be surprised by Link’s work, which is a testament to her pushing the envelope on the form of the short story and what it can be.

Off-Page: Events
I’m so excited to be chairing three digital panels for Cymera Festival and one in-person for Blackwells – they are all in early June so thought I’d give folks a heads up for booking tickets!

Unlikely Friendships with Travis Baldree and Heather Fawcett
Heather Fawcett and Travis Baldree are writers bringing new dimension to the fantasy genre. Cosy vibes, mystery and a cast of charming characters. Friday June 2, 20:00-21:00 GMT online.

New Fairytales with Vida Cruz and Kelly Link
Kelly Link and Vida Cruz talk creating a world in one short story, making new and reviving old myths and connecting ideas from all over the world. Saturday June 3, 14:00-15:00 GMT online.

Catching Up with Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Prepare to the thrilled and chilled as we catch up with the multi-talented author of Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, and The Daughter of Doctor Moreau. Sunday June 4, 16:15-45 GMT Youtube premiere.

The Shadow Cabinet by Juno Dawson
I can’t wait to chair the Edinburgh launch of Juno Dawson’s second novel in Her Majesty’s Royal Coven series – The Shadow Cabinet. Friday June 9, 19:00-20:00 GMT Augustine United Church, Edinburgh.

Until June, stay soft, light, slow
Kat x

April 2023: Sunbeams and Clear Skies

April 2023: Sunbeams and Clear Skies

Hello pals!

This is a whirlwind month of wonderful things. I’ve recently come back from a trip to Northern Ireland which was gorgeous. Coming up: a wedding for some dance pals, a weekend getaway for a friend’s birthday, and some quality time with my in-laws who live abroad. I’m also going to be at London Book Fair in my capacity at Creative Scotland. I’m looking forward to catching up with publishing folk and attending author talks – if you’re around at the Fair, do say hello!

Pages: Writing

A few weeks back I had a wonderful time in Wales on a writing retreat working on the second draft of hijinks on the high seas! It was such a pleasure sharing space with other speculative authors, enjoying the delights of the sea, and hunkering down over tea with my manuscript. I had such an invigorating strategy call with my agent and I’m so excited for this novel! I’ve also submitted edits for both ‘Mango Heart’ and ‘Remain Nameless’ their respective anthology editors, with hopefully some more news to share on them soon.

Pages: Reading
Linghun by Ai Jiang
A poignant debut novella about grief, ghosts, and finding home and belonging. I wrote a review for The Skinny on Ai’s book, so you can read my full thoughts here: https://www.theskinny.co.uk/books/book-reviews/linghun-by-ai-jiang.

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
This was such a delight – queer, funny, and heartwarming. A romantic comedy with all the right tropes and some fantastic characters. Delilah Green left Bright Falls to pursue her dreams of being an artist in NYC and didn’t look back. When Delilah is hired to photograph her step-sister Astrid’s wedding, she has to confront secrets and mishaps in the hometown she thought she’d left behind forever. The audiobook was a dream – honestly, this was so cosy and cute and steamy and I’m so excited there’s spin-offs following other characters in the series. A new favourite!

Ascension by Nicholas Binge
When a mountain mysteriously appears in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a group of scientists are sent to investigate and discover what lies at the summit. Eminent scientist, explorer, and chronic loner Harry Tunmore is among those asked to join the secret mission. A mountain thriller with a delicious speculative element. There’s a fascinating frame narrative to this epistolary novel which adds to the surreal and disorientating element of the unreliable narration. I’m delighted to be chairing Nick’s Edinburgh laugh on April 27th, so please do join us for an in-depth discussion!

Off-Page: Events
I had a great time chairing a panel for Society of Young Publisher’s Scotland Conference – Skillseekers: Navigating the Rollercoaster World of Publishing. If you’re a ticket holder, you can catch up on the digital panel ‘What About the Fast Pass: Routes Into Publishing and Their Access Barriers‘.

I have the privilege of chairing two author pals this month and it’s honestly one of the loveliest things about the writing community!
The Grief Nurse by Angie Spoto Launch at Portobello Bookshop
April 13th, 7-8pm
In-person/digital
Ascension by Nicholas Binge Launch at Blackwells Bookshop
April 27th, 7-8pm
In-person
By popular demand, Nick’s event is moving to a larger nearby venue so keep an eye out if you initially missed out on tickets!

Until May, stay soft, light, slow,
Kat x