March 2024: Routes and Roots

March 2024: Routes and Roots

Hello pals!

I write this just back from Portugal, where I’ve spent the last fortnight exploring the culture and culinary delights of Lisbon and the Algarve and on a 74km hike around parts of the glorious coastal Rota Vicentina. It’s been a time of unexpected inspiration – this was the first major outdoor adventure I’ve undertaken since getting sick late last year and it was reassuring to carve out a place for myself while travelling and jot down little sparks while I let my revisions percolate.


During a busy period down in London for the Book Fair and exploring museums and galleries, I had a Very Exciting meeting about hijinks on the high sea which I’m bursting to tell you about, but alas Publishing Secrets strike again.

In pleasant surprises, Haunted Hallways‘ publication has been brought forward to April 2nd, which means you can get your paws on ‘Remain Nameless’ near half-way to Halloween! If you missed out on the Kickstarter you can order your copy here.

If you fancy saving on shipping, To Root Somewhere Beautiful is also available directly from the publisher Outland Entertainment. You can also find it on and in bricks and mortar Barnes and Nobles!


Such Sharp Teeth by Rachel Harrison

A cross between a Hallmark rom-com and body horror, the novel follows Rory as she puts her city life on hold to return to her small hometown to support her twin sister Scarlett through her pregnancy and recent break-up. There’s women working through their rage and trauma, complex familial relationships tempered by the levity of dark humour, an earnest romance, and fierce love in all forms. This one took me by surprise – I wasn’t sure what to think at first and was lured in by the humour, but found myself connecting with the characters and their journeys through destruction and control.

The Maiden by Kate Foster

I listened to the author at Bloody Scotland’s and was instantly intrigued. Loosely based on a historical crime of passion, Foster’s reimagining of the White Lady of Corstophine is a tantalising dual narrative of two women at opposite ends of 17th century Scottish society: Lady Christian and Violet Blythe; one is a scrappy sex worker, the other an ambitious noblewoman and both are united by their desires for agency and fulfilling their own dreams. The dual narrative voices were so vivid: Violet acerbic and speaking directly to the reader, Christian cerebral and earnest, interspersed with tabloid theatrics. I was rooting for them both even though I knew the story would end in a bloody climax. The bonus Q&A with the author and one of the voice actors was a treat!

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

This was a wild ride in the best way. With shades of Yellowface and a B-movie of a locked door mystery, this novel follows aspiring author Alex, who is fighting writer’s block since her friendship break-up with her co-dependent bestie and fellow writer Wren. Through serendipity/nepotism, both Alex and Wren end up at a coveted women’s writing retreat with their author hero/crush the enigmatic and controversial Roza Vallo. What starts as a heady cocktail of comparanoia turns into a game of deceit where reputation is life or death. With more twists than your favourite psychological thriller, this veered into absurdist melodrama at times but underneath the drama and action, there’s some intriguing meditations on ego, authorial voice, and legacy.

Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa, translated by Eric Ozawa

This what a lovely little read which accompanied me on jaunts around London. We follow Takako at a quarter-life crossroads after she finds out her boyfriend is marrying someone else. Takako upends her life and accepts her distant uncle’s offer to live and work in Jimbocho, Tokyo’s booklover paradise at his second hand bookshop. Takako learns more about her uncle and estranged aunt, the joy of reading, and matchmakes her new friends. There’s a simple earnestness to this novel which celebrates the empathy and community created through book connections which I really needed this month.

Our Hideous Progeny by C.E. McGill

I’m so glad I finally made time for this stunning debut: a love letter to Frankenstein by way of queer motherhood, chronic illness, and paleontology. It accompanied me around the Natural History Museum, which was entirely fitting. We follow Mary (nee Brown) Sutherland, great-niece of Victor Frankenstein as she tries to carve a place for herself in 1850s academic scientific circles, finding the perception of her class, gender, and sexuality a barrier for inclusion and recognition, while also acknowledging the racial disparity within these same circles. The characters are so well-drawn, especially the flawed and frustrating men in Mary’s life, and the portrayal of chronic illness through Maisie’s characterisation really struck a chord. It’s sparked some creative energy around my sapphic gothic Victorian novel and I’ll certainly be watching out for C.E. Gill’s next work!

Until April, stay soft, light, slow,

Kat x

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