March 2023: Bloom

March 2023: Bloom

​Hello pals,

Hope you’re all having a nourishing March full of gentle dreams and blooming greenery. I’ve started the month quite under the weather, but bed rest has been a nice opportunity to start watercolour painting again. What a pleasure to become reacquainted with a creative pursuit I haven’t made time for in years.

Pages: Writing
After submitting the first draft of my hijinks on the high seas fantasy novel, I’m so excited to have received notes back from my agent. I’m going on a writing retreat to Wales with some author pals for a week and I can’t wait to dig into revisions, ramble around in the beautiful outdoors, and spend quality time with other writers.

As many of you know, my professional publishing background is in audio. After so much time spent on the other side of the mic, I’m delighted to share my voice acting role as Zarah for Folxlore Season Two. Working on this queer horror audio drama set in Glasgow was such a joy and took me back to my theatre roots – it’s been fun to flex other creative muscles. New episodes drop every Sunday and you can listen here, starting with Episode One: ‘Stuck’:

Pages: Reading 
Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud
I’m re-reading this supernatural young adult series alongside watching the cracking TV adaptation. It’s got so many of my favourite things: found family, ragtag crew, witty dialogue, copious amounts of tea, harrowing ghosts and ghouls. The characters are well-drawn and grow, and the books balance the self-contain mysteries with the overarching plot and world-building. I recommended these books frequently as a children’s bookseller and it’s a pleasure to delve into some comfort re-reads. Content note: a wee bit of gore; some dark/psychological themes around death, grief, murder, trauma.

Breathless by Amy McCulloch
I love outdoors mysteries and thrillers and this was such a page-turner. The author has plenty of mountaineering experience and it was well-researched, but the outdoors element remains approachable as the protagonist is a journalist somewhat out of her depths in terms of mountaineering. Some fascinating discussions around conservation, technology, colonialism, gender in outdoors pursuits, and the enduring appeal of the summit. This one kept me gripped from start to finish and never quite knowing which characters I could trust. Content note: murder/death, injury detail, references to racism and abusive behaviour/gaslighting.

Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan
This was incredibly bleak but also a hopeful and fast-paced thriller with a murder mystery at its heart. It follows two Catholic priests as they attempt to solve a string of child murders in Manila’s slums. Batacan has a background in journalism, which feeds into deft plotting and the damning indictment of both the Catholic church and the justice system in terms of complicity and corruption. It’s easy to see why this novel won so many accolades but also why it continues to be such a controversial and vital text. Content note: violence and murder against children; pedophilia; sexual assault; police brutality and corruption; religious institutions.

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon
I’m a devote of Maintenance Phase, a podcast debunking myths about fat, health, nutrition, and well-being, which Gordon co-hosts with Michael Hobbes, journalist and former co-host of You’re Wrong About. Gordon’s book is equally well-researched, hilarious, and heart-breaking and delves into the personal more than the subject matter of Maintenance Phase. This is an essential piece of non-fiction on the systemic biases and harms society perpetuates against fat people and weapons against everyone. Content note: fatphobia; disordered eating; references to racism, queerphobia, ableism and other forms of discrimination.

The Grief Nurse by Angie Spoto
A lyrical gothic novel following Lynx, a grief nurse, who possesses the ability to take others’ grief. She is indentured to the Asters, a wealthy and influential family, to keep them Bright and free from Sorrow, Dread, and Heartache. After the loss of the Asters’ eldest sons, guests gather at their private estate for the wake and contentious will-reading. This is a gorgeous debut and I can’t wait to chair Angie for the launch at Portobello Bookshop next month (7pm on April 13th). Join us by booking your ticket here:
Content note: grief, death, trauma, sexual harassment

Off-page: Events:
I’m taking March off for events but here are some fab photos from my wonderful time at Paisley and Granite Noir Book Festivals last month – thank you to all the enthusiastic readers, authors, and festival team.

Until April stay soft, light, slow,
Kat x

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