Tag: writing newsletter

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. Bookshop.org. You can also find it on Bookshop.org 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

February 2024: An Extra Day to While Away

February 2024: An Extra Day to While Away

Hello pals!

February was a glorious blur of book events and festivals, supporting pals in celebrating their book launches and exciting announcements, speaking on panels at Granite Noir, and a career talk for the postgrad students at Strathclyde. Being among engaged and curious audiences has been so nourishing for me.


Much of February has been ideas percolating as I’ve listened to other authors speak about craft. I’ve got my edits for hijinks on the high sea and I’m chipping away at this first round of edits, focusing on chronolgy and worldbuilding. I’m having fun drawing maps, pinning down the timelines, and delving into the settings and characters in even more depth.

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


Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Set in a near future where convicts battle-royale for the prize of their freedom. The reader follows the ‘Links’ in their ‘Chain-Gangs’ as they rise through the ranks, where the only currency is death. But they also find connection and collective action. The narrative makes us complicit: screenplay directions,  horrific statistics, and head-hopping between the Links, protestors, spectators, and employees of the show. The cognitive dissonance of the prison industrial complex playing out as live entertainment is an unfortunately familiar dystopian theme and yet Adjei-Brenyah’s novel is frenetic, messy, and to quote itself ‘a wild flood of energy running everywhere’.

Gathering: Women of Colour on Nature edited by Durre Shahwar and Nasia Sarwar-Skuse

I have a review of this anthology in the forthcoming March edition of The Skinny and I found this such an essential and thought-provoking collection of essays. I learned so much without it feeling didactic, and there is as much celebration and hope in these pages as rallying cries for change. I love pretty much everything 404 Ink publish and this book introduced me to many creatives whose work I’ll be following going forward!

It’s Not That Radical: Climate Action to Transform Our World by Mikaela Loach

This short punchy non-fiction book was a balm for the soul. Grounded and hopeful, Loach is an inspiring figure and approaches climate activism through an intersectional lens. I’m always looking for more books like this, describing practical ways to educate and empower ‘climate delayers’. This is a great primer which centres intersectionality and the work of BPOC communities and I’d recommend to anyone who feels hopeless and overwhelmed by climate action.

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

This one’s for the chronically online girlies. The first half of this novel is a stream-of-consciousness fever dream in the mind of the protagonist, who is a minor internet celebrity who spends every waking hour in The Portal. There are hyperspecific references to internet scandals and memes – I had a visceral reaction to how many I recognised. In the second half our unnamed protagonist spends more time IRL supporting her sister through pregnancy complications. The tone shifts to a more existential, grief-stricken, and raw prose style. The move from ironic cynicism to genuine earnestness was striking and speaks to the novel’s theme of allowing space for sincerity to come in, because with it will come real pain but also real pleasure.

Until March, stay soft, light, slow,

Kat x

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