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.

‘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!

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!

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

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