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I am a ‘Young Adult’ author from London, currently unpublished, writing about lots of things, from mythology-inspired fantasy, through near-future dystopian nightmares, to contemporary action adventures.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

A journey, part 2: to all the men I’ve loved before

18 Apr

I’m sure I’m not alone in finding writing therapeutic. It’s not just the act of committing thought to paper. For me, it’s about constructing a story from the chaos. Perhaps fooling myself that there is some kind of order to this. That I was meant to go through this.

The universe doesn’t really work like that, I know. The gods have their two buckets and they just chuck stuff at us randomly from either one whenever they feel like it.

They just feel like chucking quite a lot from one side at me, lately.

Anyway, been doing my research and it seems like someone with levels as low as mine doesn’t have very many good options when it comes to fertility treatments. Pending further medical discussions, obviously. But it may be that I need to use a sperm donor.

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How do I decide?

10 Apr

I guess I always thought I would be a mother.

Conversely, I’ve never imagined myself as a bride. I’ve sometimes idly thought about a song I might like to walk down the aisle to (Roslin and Adam from the BSG soundtrack, obviously), or what style of wedding dress I like while watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress’. But when it comes down to it, do I actually see myself standing in front of all of my friends, saying, ‘This is the life I choose/this is the thing I can’t bear to lose’? No. The thought brings me out in a rash.

But I have often pictured myself with my children. Small vignettes, like picking them up, rocking them, kissing them. Taking them to the museums or the park. Making them little sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Playing hide and seek.

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What I Read in 2021

27 Jan

I’ve seriously procrastinated on this post, and I think I know why. I’m ashamed. I only read 27 books last year. That’s the lowest number since I left university! There are a number of reasons: ongoing pandemic, working from home, putting energy into learning languages, binge-watching the Sopranos, starting to write copy freelance, dating etc. But they are all excuses. I just haven’t made reading central to my life and that’s bad for me in so many ways.

I’ve been doing a lot of self-growth work through a meditation programme, and one of the cornerstones is deciding your ‘authentic code’. I’ve enshrined learning and curiosity in my code, but another thing that’s important to me is loving. And that includes loving myself. Since I was three years old, reading has been a therapy, an escape, a relaxation. And I should make more of an effort to prioritise that.

She said, having worked on her first job until 7.30pm the last three nights, and her second job until nearly 12.

Anyway, I didn’t read a huge amount of YA in 2021. The YA community has become very fragmented, with many authors shifting to MG or adult, so I feel like I’m a bit disconnected from what’s going on. Additionally, I feel like contemps have been more prominent/popular, and they’re just not my favourite genre.

I also didn’t read as much non-fiction as I would like. I LOVE reading gripping history. But since reducing my reading time, wading through a hefty tome can be somewhat intimidating.

Reading The Mirror and the Light took absolutely FOREVER so that wiped out a lot of potential reading progress…!

As always, bolded titles were my particular favourites:

  • Witchsign by Den Patrick
  • The Betrayals by Bridget Collins – ooooh I loved this one! Dark Academia, enemies to lovers, a Gormenghast-style rambling school with dusty corners full of secrets…
  • Not a Year Off by Lindsay Williams
  • Wicked by Design by Katy Moran
  • Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan – the Devil’s daughter moves into an Edinburgh tenement building
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Autopsy of 2021

1 Jan

For the last few months, I’ve wanted to write about the process of ‘coming out of’ the pandemic. A sort of ‘Covid is over’ retrospective. Although, of course, we find ourselves now in the midst of Wave Eleventy, in this funny kind of ‘personal responsibility’ quagmire that benefits nobody except the chronically selfish.

This year seems to have passed in an instant, doesn’t it? Perhaps because from November to March, I was in near total isolation at my parents’ house, in a city I have never lived in. It was a privileged position, in many ways: I had food, a warm, comfortable house to stay in, and the companionship of my family. We watched a lot of good TV and movies. We went to the beach for bracing walks, when allowed, and, when restrictions tightened, we limited ourselves to a loop around the block.

But in a city where I knew no-one else, my social world narrowed to phone calls and a semi-regular roleplay game in which I played a drag queen wizard with the stage name Glamione Danger. When it came to the spring and cases had at last dropped a bit, I was so desperate to come home to my own life, it was a physical ache.

As for the rest, I hardly know where to start.

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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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