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.


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.


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

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