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I’m Kat, an author from North Wales, and I write young adult thrillers/horror. My latest is Wicked Little Deeds/Burden Falls, and it tells the story of Ava, who gets tangled up in a series of gruesome murders in her small town where superstitions about witchcraft and vengeful ghosts are rife. You can find out more about my books and where to buy them here.

If you missed last month's newsletter, you can catch up here.

Pictured: Me and my mug du jour: a bulbous Ghostbusters thing filled with hot vimto. Class.
January passed in a blink, but it also felt like quite a lot happened. I got some news on foreign editions of Wicked Little Deeds which I hope to be able to share soon; I’m THISCLOSE to being done with my new manuscript; and I had a chance to catch up on reading lots of excellent books (more on that later).

Now we're into February, which just happens to be the month where the events of Wicked Little Deeds take place, so I'd say it's the perfect time to read it if you haven't already (or even if you have). 
What’s coming for you…
In this newsletter, you will find:
  • book news, updates & events 
  • an interview with Josh Winning, author of The Shadow Glass
  • what’s on my radar: books, TV, movies, music
Book news, updates and events
With my UKYAbooks hat on (I’m an admin over there) I recently hosted a panel called ‘Secrets and Lies’ which featured Ben Oliver (The Loop trilogy - top right), M.A. Bennett (S.T.A.G.S. - bottom left) and Tracy Darnton (Ready or Not - bottom right).
You can watch that back here on the UKYAbooks Instagram account, as well as all the other brilliant events arranged by Holly Race for the 2022 Preview, including the 80’s movie-themed launch quiz hosted by Josh Winning which I also took part in (spoiler: my finest contribution was my rainbow scrunchie). The other quiz contestants, Matt Killeen and Liz Corr, were magnificent, though, and it’s worth watching for them. And my scrunchie, of course. Catch it here

Coming up this month I have an IG Live event for Josh Winning’s 80s Fantasy Film Club where I’ll be joining to talk about one of my favourite childhood movies: Willow! Make sure you’re following Josh and join us at 7pm on Sunday 13th February for all the 80s nostalgia.
I’ll be adding more events to my events page as they’re confirmed/available to watch online so keep an eye out there.
Interview with Josh Winning

Josh Winning is a nostalgia nut, book/film lover and author of The Shadow Glass, which is perfect for fans of Henson Company puppet classics Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, and The NeverEnding Story.

He is senior film writer at Radio Times, contributing editor at Total Film magazine, writer at SFX and Den of Geek, and the co-host of movie podcast Torn Stubs. He has been on set with Kermit the Frog (and Miss Piggy), devoured breakfast with zombies on The Walking Dead, and sat on the Iron Throne on the Dublin set of Game of Thrones.

osh lives in London with his cat Penny and dreams of one day convincing Sigourney Weaver to yell “Goddammit!” at him.

To find out more about Josh and his books, check out his website.

About The Shadow Glass

Jack Corman is failing at life.

Jobless, jaded and on the “wrong” side of thirty, he’s facing the threat of eviction from his London flat while reeling from the sudden death of his father, one-time film director Bob Corman. Back in the eighties, Bob poured his heart and soul into the creation of his 1986 puppet fantasy The Shadow Glass, a film Jack loved as a child, idolising its fox-like hero Dune.

But The Shadow Glass flopped on release, deemed too scary for kids and too weird for adults, and Bob became a laughing stock, losing himself to booze and self-pity. Now, the film represents everything Jack hated about his father, and he lives with the fear that he’ll end up a failure just like him.

In the wake of Bob’s death, Jack returns to his decaying home, a place creaking with movie memorabilia and painful memories. Then, during a freak thunderstorm, the puppets in the attic start talking. Tipped into a desperate real-world quest to save London from the more nefarious of his father’s creations, Jack teams up with excitable fanboy Toby and spiky studio executive Amelia to navigate the labyrinth of his father’s legacy while conjuring the hero within––and igniting a Shadow Glass resurgence that could, finally, do his father proud.
The Shadow Glass will be published by Titan Books on 22 March. There are links to buy from various retailers here.

Kat: The Shadow Glass is a love letter to some amazing 80s films and gave me so much nostalgia while I was reading. For anyone not familiar with 80s fantasy, what are the top 5 films you recommend watching to get a feel for The Shadow Glass?

Josh: Thank you! Also, wow, if you’ve not seen many 80s fantasy films, you’re in for a treat! Labyrinth and The NeverEnding Story are an absolute must, closely followed by The Dark Crystal. Then I’d say the quirky “movie characters in the real world” element of the book is a bit Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and there’s a healthy dose of Gremlins gross-out chucked in there for good measure. If you’re watching these movies for the first time, have fun! I’m jealous!

Kat: Is this a story you’ve had brewing for a long time? What inspired you to write it?

Josh: I had a general idea about movie puppets in my head for at least two years before I wrote a single word, but it didn’t become a workable book concept until I put it together with the idea of a “failed” filmmaker. Finding Bob Corman and his son Jack gave me an emotional hook to hang the story on, and everything grew from there. As for what inspired me, I wrote this book out of a desperate need for more puppet-animated fantasies in my life. I wish people were still making movies like The Shadow Glass, and it baffles me why they fell out of fashion. Give us more puppets, Hollywood!

Kat: I love a good villain, and Kunin Yillda is certainly a standout baddie! What do you think makes a great villain, and what influences did you draw from when creating her?

Josh: I’m so pleased you liked/loathed her! There are so many different types of villain, but there’s something really fun about letting rip with a character who is unapologetically and irrefutably evil. Kunin Yillda is a preening, disgusting mess who I imagined as a cross between Miss Piggy and Hannibal Lecter, and I could write her all day! I also drew on Skeletor in Masters of the Universe, because he just wants power without any of the responsibility that goes with it. That’s Kunin Yillda in a nutshell.

Kat: Your cover is one of my favourites of recent years. Did it go through many drafts before nailing the perfect one? How involved were you in the process?

Josh: Thank you! Because I’m a total nerd, I sent Titan a fully researched, 10-page PDF cover presentation that explored all the different ways they could go with a cover. They were very kind about that! I didn’t have a specific idea of what the cover should look like, but I did know what it should FEEL like, and that was gorgeous, inviting, warm-n-fuzzy nostalgia. Luckily, Titan agreed, and went full throttle with the VHS concept. I’m still stunned by what their designer Julia Lloyd came up with. I love it.

Kat: As much as The Shadow Glass pays homage to 80s fantasy films, it also feels like a contemporary human/puppet movie adaptation waiting to happen — along the lines of The Happytime Murders. Who would you include in your dream cast?

Josh: Obviously, I would HATE for the book to be made into a movie and I absolutely HAVE NOT daydreamed for hours about casting. Oh, who am I kidding? I could definitely see Taron Egerton or Will Poulter in the role of Jack, as they both have that everyman quality, while also being able to play both funny and unlikeable. I wrote a role that was specifically for Sigourney Weaver, too, so I’m waiting for the phone to ring on that one! ;)

Kat: What’s next for you?

Josh: I’m just finishing up revisions on my next book, which delves into the 90s horror side of Hollywood – it’s sort of a dark reflection of The Shadow Glass. And then we’ll see what else my brain conjures up. It’s tricky. “Puppet fantasy” is a difficult concept to top!
On my radar
Books – As I mentioned at the top, I had a really good reading month in January! I read 11 books in total, and these were my standout favourites:
  • All These Bodies by Kendare Blake
    In small-town 1950s US, a string of brutal murders dubbed 'The Bloodless Murders' strikes fear into the nation. When a teenage girl is found at the latest crime scene covered in blood, the local sheriff's son is the only one who can uncover what really happened. 
  • White Smoke by Tiffany D Jackson
    When Marigold and her blended family move to a new town for a fresh start, she'd hoped to leave the ghosts of her past behind... but it looks like her new house has a few ghosts of its own for her to deal with.
  • The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
    A young medium fears for his life when the ghost of a school shooter attaches itself to him and seems intent on destruction.
  • The Loop by Ben Oliver
    In this trilogy opener (the final book is due to be released in April, so not long to wait!) teenage Luka, imprisoned in a high-tech facility for a crime he didn't commit, counts down the days until his execution until rumours of a war outside change everything.
  • Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick (out in March)
    This brilliant new middle grade series opener is about Angelo and his classmates who get stuck in weekend detention and find out there's something deadly going on at their school. 
  • Vile Stars by Sera Milano (out in April)
    Luka is trying to piece her life back together after losing her mother when she meets the charismatic Cosmo in what seems like a fated encounter whilst watching a meteor shower. But is it really love if it hurts this much?
  • Ready or Not by Tracy Darnton (out in May) 
    Millie and her friends have spent summer and New Year's holidays together for years, until her best friend Kat disappeared last year. Now they've gathered one last time before the holiday home is sold to try to piece together what really happened last summer. 
(Cover for Ready or Not isn't final!)

TV & Movies – My most recent binge was The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window starring Kristen Bell, which was a really fun spoof on some recent thrillers. Movie-wise, following last month's binge of all the Insidious films, I decided to watch all The Conjuring movies and tie-ins in order, and I actually liked these even more than the Insidious movies. I have one more to go, and I'll be completely up to date on all things Conjure-y.

Music – Two new music finds for me this month were Hung Up by The Mysterines  and Buzzkill by Mothica - both of which are brilliant and now on the playlist for my new novel. 
In next month’s newsletter look out for an interview with Jennifer Killick, author of Dread Wood; *hopefully* a foreign cover reveal, and lots more bookish news!

'Til then… 
Kat x
Copyright © 2022 Kat Ellis, All rights reserved.

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