Welcome to my site!

1 Dec

Dear friends, old and new,

Welcome to my website.

I am a ‘Young Adult’ author from London, currently unpublished, writing about lots of things, from mythology-inspired fantasy, through near-future dystopian nightmares, to contemporary action adventures.

My novel, ‘The Twain’, was in the final of the 2012-13 Guardian Hot Key Books Young Writers’ Prize, and received an Honourable Mention in Undiscovered Voices 2014. ‘The Hunt is On’ is a finalist in Undiscovered Voices 2016 and featured in the winners’ anthology.

Check the ‘About’ page to find out more about me and how you can get in touch.

Catherine x

Sunday

11 Mar

Sunday

I came back to my tiny room this week.

I hadn’t reckoned with the difficulty of returning to the scene of the crime. To smells and sounds of another era. To a mountain of undone laundry, half a pack of soggy Bran Flakes, a love poem tucked into the back of my food cupboard.

A dog barks. The pipes groan. I’m thrown back to last year, when I had hope. Even the way the light seeps under the blind, the shadow of my towels on the back of the wardrobe door, my boots tucked under the chest of drawers since I last wore them over a year ago.

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What I Watched in 2020

31 Dec

I don’t usually write up my watch list, but in this ‘unprecedented’ year, I wanted to record the films and shows that have entertained me. I don’t have space to record literally everything, but some highlights:

Film

  • La Strada (Federico Fellini) – bleak.
  • Parasite (Bong Joon-Ho) – this was the last film I saw in the cinema (Peckhamplex) and it was one of my best cinema-going experiences ever. The gasp that ran through the room at that moment!
  • Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (J-P Valkeapää) – a very darkly comic Finnish tale of BDSM and grief.
  • Paris Qui Dort (René Clair) – a silent film from 1925 that was interesting to watch in locked-down London.
  • Make Up (Claire Oakley) – a coming-of-age dressed up as a horror, set in a Cornish caravan park.
  • Papicha (Mounia Meddour) – a young woman dares to put on a fashion show in 90s Algeria.
  • Arrival (Denis Villeneuve) – a linguist must attempt to communicate with an alien species.
  • Knives Out (Rian Johnson) – a classic whodunnit with a modern twist.
  • Annihilation (Alex Garland) – a group of women must venture into a mysterious ‘zone’ where mutant creatures roam
  • Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky) – three men must venture into a mysterious ‘zone’ where all is not as it seems
  • Luxor (Zeina Durra) – a woman returns to Luxor to recuperate after serving as a war medic.
  • The Apartment (Billy Wilder) – classic comedy with an edge.
  • Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder) – a movie about the movie industry, and an ageing former star descending into madness.
  • Pinocchio (Matteo Garrone) – a stunning adaptation of a tale that is rather too dark for kids.
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What I Read in 2020

31 Dec

Is there any point in trying to write a commentary on 2020? All I can say is, I’m scathed.

For lots of reasons, I haven’t read as many books this year: only 30. History was the perfect escape, reminding me that life in the past was also difficult and dangerous. In fiction, I found myself reading a lot less YA and a lot more ‘adult’ literary, mostly by women. And I read two fantastic novels in French.

I’ve bolded my favourites.

  1. The Plotters by Un-Su Kim – Korean assassins operating out of a library.
  2. The Familiars by Stacey Halls
  3. Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan
  4. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – stunning and harrowing story of two branches of a Ghanaian family.
  5. The Private Lives of Ottoman Women by Godfrey Goodwin
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What we talk about when we talk about money

12 Dec

Aka: the best thing I did in 2020

Religion. Politics. Money. The stuff you’re not supposed to talk about at the dinner table; the stuff you rarely bring up with friends. But where we might feel comfortable, after a couple of glasses of wine, gently probing someone’s attitudes to the death penalty or the afterlife, somehow money-talk can be a step too far. 

Transitioning into the world of fintech in the early part of this year and researching the foundations of financial wellbeing, I’ve realised why. Money comes with a whole heap of baggage. It’s not just about your account balance. It’s also about feelings of shame, stigma and fear. 

That’s why I jumped at the chance to take part in the Own It project, developed and run by Friends of the Earth and Enrol Yourself. After a taster session at the Finance Innovation Lab’s Women in Finance networking event (RIP in-person networking), I signed up to train as a facilitator so I could run my own online project over the summer of 2020. 

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A Weekend in Milan

8 Nov

I miss travel. This morning, I was thinking about my trip to Milan earlier in the year, and wanted to write about it, partly as a form of deeper reminiscence.

I haven’t travelled a lot on my own. In general, I dislike being alone; I don’t think I’ve yet found the means of being totally at peace in my own company. But there is also a freedom in setting one’s own schedule, and exploring at one’s own pace.

I chose to go to Milan on something of a whim. I knew I wanted to do a weekend away in February and looked at which flights were cheapest. My friend Hannah had recently been to Milan and enjoyed it, and I also wanted to make my first trip to Italy. With a bit of Coffee Break Italian under my belt, and advance bookings for the Cathedral and The Last Supper (essential), I set off from Stansted to Bergamo.

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Don’t mention the war

27 Sep

BIG SPOILERS FOR DARK!

It feels like Netflix’s Dark has been the sleeper hit of this pandemic summer. Perhaps because it is eminently binge-worthy and rewards obsession; perhaps because its claustrophobic feel suits the current climate. But it’s not your usual ‘must-see TV’: it’s a subtitled series made in Germany.

That a German show should gain traction around the world is a cheering triumph of the Netflix era. Yet, its global popularity could be explained by its somewhat generic nature. Its ‘spooky small town’ is somewhat reminiscent of the village at the centre of Les Revenants, or even Twin Peaks. Is there anything particularly German about Winden?

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Love in Lockdown

10 Aug

I become aware of two things around the same time.

One: there is a virus coming for us. It’s been in the news for weeks, the girl next to me in the office becoming increasingly hysterical, whereas I was rolling my eyes. “It’ll be another Swine Flu,” I said, remembering how I was quarantined in my tiny bungalow in Afidnes for a week before I was allowed to teach, and then every kid in the school got sick anyway by summertime. Or another SARs, a disease over there that fizzles out before it gets over here.

My cynicism is punctured when my friend Dennis texts me from Germany in mid-Feb. He’s half-Italian and just came back from a research trip to a village there. He’s worried about what’s happening. For some reason, his is the message that makes me stop in my tracks. I stockpile pasta and tinned tomatoes and Dairy Milk with a racing heart. Nobody else is buying for disaster, yet, but it’s simmering in the background.

Yet, at the same time, my mind is consumed by two: the dawning realisation that this pipe dream of casual dating is simply not going to work.

I thought I’d have a few months of meeting people, being cool and aloof about it all while I breezed through a newly single lifestyle of dinner dates and nice cocktails.

But my very first date turned out to be really, really good. And the second. And the third…

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Confessions of a reluctant exerciser

24 May

This morning, I ran almost 10km from my flat in Islington down through the West End and to Whitehall, curving back round along the Victoria Embankment to Blackfriars before looping St. Paul’s to add a few more steps to my count. My feet were leaden by the time I puffed back up Farringdon Road; my lips burned with a mixture of suncream and sweat. But I had enjoyed the run, listening to the history of Chinese food in New York and a BBC documentary on shootings in Chicago.

Yes, I enjoyed a 10km run. And yesterday I enjoyed a 50 minute workout that left me gasping and jelly-legged. If you had told me some years ago that I’d one ay be a committed exerciser, I would have laughed.

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For Food’s Sake

8 May

There are few pleasures to be had, here in ‘lockdown’ (barring, of course, the warmth of a sunray on your leg as you work by the window). Food becomes the only connection to the physical.

Before the virus, I was trying to be more ‘flexitarian’. Tofu, beans, curries made with those little spice kits you can get from the supermarket. I ate breakfast and lunch at work, and sometimes dinner, too, snaffled at my desk before dashing out to a dance class or a gallery late. Salads. Those slightly slimy falafel wraps from Tesco that made my stomach cramp. A bag of Jacob’s Crinklys, lip-smacking food of the gods. An overpriced pain-au-chocolat as a Friday morning treat.

My food habits changed rapidly. In mid-Feb, I put aside a small stockpile of canned and dried goods just in case. I’ve been reluctant to touch them, but it’s good just to know I’ve got a tin of rice pudding if I’m desperate. My last meal out was a last-minute, ‘if this is my last supper, let it be a good one’, dive into Shake Shack for the deep indulgence of burger and chips.

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What I Read in 2019

30 Dec

Another year over. It’s not been a great one, to be honest with you. Anyway, we’re here for the books! A total of 42. My favourites are bolded.

You’ll notice I read a few ‘work’ books this year. Just trying to boost my skills a bit! Mostly, I really loved history this year.

1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

2. Launch by Jeff Walker

3. The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben – fascinating non-fiction

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