Being an aspiring children’s and YA author I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend the Edinburgh Book Festival talk The Disappeared by Cat Clarke and Kat Ellis on Tuesday 18th of August, as you can see I even managed to get a photo with the two of them, even though I was at the end of the signing queue! Yes, I’m a slow coach, I meandered around, had a cup of coffee, perused the books, and then joined the queue. Kat was occupied signing another book so I spoke to Cat first. Cat delighted me by asking if I’d like to be in the photo too! I was a bit concerned that I might spoil the photo, sometimes I’m not very photogenic, I pull these silly faces, but fortunately this didn’t turn out too badly.
Is this the first time that I’ve seen Cat Clarke?
No, though it is the first time I’ve spoken to her in person. I heard her speaking a year ago at YALC in London, here’s the link to that talk if you’d like to read about it: https://mjmallon.com/2014/07/18/im-too-sexy-for-this-book-yalc-panel-event/
My experience of the talk
During this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival talk I managed to get a seat fairly near the front, and was about to get my note pad out when I realised I’d lost my pen, so this write up is purely from the powers of my failing memory so if I get any details wrong, Cat/Kat don’t blame me, it’s that missing pen’s fault!
The chair person Daniel Hahn started by saying that it was bound to get confusing with a Cat/Kat in the audience, how do you differentiate? Daniel found a way round this conundrum as all good interviewers do, and the conversation flowed very freely. I was struck by Cat’s friendly disposition, and her tendency to smile and wave at the audience. She had a few members of the audience waving back! Next time I’ll be more than happy to wave back Cat, now I’ve met you in person!
The first question that Daniel posed set the tone for the talk, light and silly, which is great, I like light and silly.
It went something like this: If you had a choice of muffins for hands or squirrels for feet which would you choose? Cat C went for those squirrels, but sounds like she kind of liked the notion of regenerating muffins, (her suggestion.) Kat E stuck with the muffins, like me she must have a sweet tooth, and a few fillings. Cat C was quick to point out that Muffins are not very practical she added that you wouldn’t be able to do the gardening with muffins for hands. True, but you wouldn’t starve either. Oh by the way my favourite muffins are blueberry, yum…. donations on a plate, please….
Talking about squirrels just recently we had a very high fence built and squirrels have taken to running across the top of this new fence at double time, a bit like a trapeze artist balancing on a wire, except they kind of do a manic version of it, I always find it highly entertaining, it’s my own little Squirrel Circus Show what more could a girl ask for ……..
Moving on from squirrels and muffins, and back to the talk, the topic of conversation kind of gravitated towards Welsh, or to be exact writing novels in Welsh and this question was directed at Kat. Kat is Welsh, or at least she says she is. Kat has forgotten how to write in Welsh! Maybe she’s an imposter? Can she sing? That’s normally a good way to tell, Tom Jones comes to mind, the interviewer should have asked her to sing a bar or two of Send in The Clowns. Kat’s a new breed, an author pretending to be Welsh. Only kidding Kat, I’m sure you are Welsh. Yes, I believe you, the penny dropped when you said that if your novels were written in Welsh there would be far more spelling mistakes! Lots of people can’t spell in English so that sounds plausible.
Cat Clark doesn’t write in any foreign languages at least I don’t think she does. She started her writing journey writing non-fiction, but this type of factual writing didn’t allow her an adequate platform for her squirrel like imagination, so fiction was the next obvious path to take. Cat says she thinks like a teenager, and believe me when she said this I didn’t bat an eyelid. So our teenage minded Cat decided to write Fiction, aka stories that lie to the reader, yes that’s how the interviewer sold it to us. A whole new genre: Stories That Lie, it has a certain ring to it doesn’t it? Sounds far more exciting, and interesting if you ask me, great decision Cat…
Both Cat Clarke and Kat Ellis seem to have aspects in common in their recent writing, both of these novels are about disappearing children. Moreover these two authors are drawn to the weird. Cat Clarke admitted that she was a bit of a weird kid being fascinated by child abduction, the topic for her new book, The Lost and The Found. Similiarly Kat E likes to go to circus’s with her niece and imagine what it would be like for the circus performers to befall some horrible accident. Yes, this talk ended up being a bit of a confessional for weirdness, but Cat came out with the most shocking gambit of all. She is fascinated by shark attacks, what it would be like to be attacked, and the scars you’d have. After this particular announcement silence followed, shocked audience silence, possibly Cat might have gone too far? Hope there weren’t any shark attack victims in the audience. Yes Cat, authors are a weird bunch, and by the sound of it, you’ve got this weirdness on pointe.
So the discussion progressed to differences between these two authors. Cat Clarke kind of summed it up when she mentioned the weathervane at the beginning of Kat’s book, she’s in awe of the fantasy world that Kat has created. Me too. Daniel Hahn was quick to point out that Cat’s non fantasy based writing rocks too.
Blackfin Sky (great title by the way,) is Kat Ellis’s debut novel. During the course of the interview it transpired that Kat E did indeed have other manuscripts tucked away, apparently Blackfin Sky leapfrogged past the others, to claim the first spot in the hall of fame of first novels and is one of the nominees for …. Drumroll……..
First Book Award, vote for your favourite here, voting closes at 5pm on Friday 16th October: www.edbookfest.co.uk
There were readings, as there always are at these talks, hey we’re talking books, who wants to come to an author’s event and not hear the author/s talk? Cat C leapfrogged past the first chapter and read from her second chapter and Kat Ellis kept fantasy simple and read from her first chapter.
Here’s some short snippets:
Kat Ellis, Blackfin Sky, 1st Chapter
Silas’ spirit had inhabited the rusting weathervane for many years. From his perch on the school roof he watched the townsfolk of Blackfin through his empty eye socket as they buzzed through their lives beneath him, no more significant than the grains of sand piling up against the shoreline, clinging to the struts of Blackfin pier.
Doesn’t that just grab your attention? It certainly did for me!
Cat Clarke The Lost and The Found, Chapter 2
I don’t believe it. I won’t allow myself to believe it. Mum’s trying to stay calm too, but I can see it in her face – something I haven’t seen for years hope. She thinks it’s different this time. They wouldn’t have called her otherwise. They think this is it. After hundreds, maybe even thousands, of crank calls and false sightings and psychics claiming Laurel was living with goat-herds in the mountains of Uzbekistan.
Again, another wonderful snippet that draws the reader in, so looking forward to reading both of these books.
Same topic two very different approaches fascinating isn’t it? That’s why I love books so much, stir a little pot of words, add a dash of magic and just see where those magical words will take you.
There were tips for writers from debut novelist Kat Ellis, her advice is to learn all you can about publishing through social media platforms such as twitter, follow those agents, (she is with the Bent Agency,) and editors. Excellent advice from Kat, yes stalk those agents and editors, don’t let them get a day’s rest.
Neither Cat or Kat write with a particular audience in mind. Apparently Kat didn’t do any research for her novel, sounds like it just evolved, albeit slowly, yes this writing lark takes oodles of energy and time. They tend to write what they themselves would like to read and nowadays YA is read by older people too like …… yours truly and the thoroughly accomplished and entertaining interviewer Daniel Hahn who confessed to being in his forties and reading YA. Ah, this is very relatable, us older YA readers should stick together we should have a convention or something….
So, wonderful talk, enjoyed it immensely, love being at the Book Festival, spent so much time there it began to feel like a home for home. Maybe I should pitch a tent, would have saved on bus fares.
TIP: It’s a great spot for people watching, and generally being nosy – one of my favourite pastimes, a must if you have any aspirations to be a writer……
Take a look at these photos lots of potential for imagined stories:
Maybe you’d like to use one of these photographs as a story prompt and write a story? Please feel free to do so if you’d like by linking back to this post. Thanks.
Thanks for stopping by.
Have you been to this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival? If you have I’d love to hear about your experiences do leave a comment. Or if you’d prefer to talk about squirrels, muffins and sharks that’s okay, happy to chat about that too!
Bye for now!
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx