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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, looking ghostly in front of a pretty bush.
What’s coming for you…
In this newsletter, you will find:
  • a GIVEAWAY, some book news & non-book news 
  • an interview with Tracy Darnton, author of Ready or Not
  • what’s on my radar: books, TV, movies, music
A giveaway & my latest news
This month marks 8 years since I became a published author. Blackfin Sky, my debut, came out in May 2014 in the UK, followed by Breaker in May 2015. In 8 years I’ve published 5 novels, in multiple languages and countries, plus one novella — not too shabby, eh?

Usually I completely forget to mark these types of milestones, but as a way to celebrate, I thought it would be fun to do a giveaway! One winner will get a signed and dedicated copy of either Breaker or Blackfin Sky (UK or US edition of Blackfin Sky – winner’s choice). I’ll make this an international giveaway. To enter, email and tell me which book you’d like to win, and I’ll choose one person at random. There's more info about the books here if you need help choosing. Closes at 5pm on Friday 20th May, so 2 weeks from now. Good luck!
A couple of weeks ago I got the lovely news that Harrow Lake made Book Authority’s list of the 15 Best New Horror Audiobooks to Enjoy in 2022. I’m a huge audiobook fan, and I think the narrators and producers did a wonderful job with Harrow Lake’s audio version, so this listing means a lot.
Another fun bookish thing that happened recently is that I got my author copies of the Slovak edition of Harrow Lake from my publisher over there, Slovart. Check out the pretty cover!
I love how different it is from the other editions.
I signed up for a brand new book subscription box last month and wanted to mention it here as it was such a gorgeous box of bookish goodies — including stationery, bookmarks and exclusive extras from the author, Gina Blaxill (read my interview with her in last month’s newsletter). It’s called Paper Orange, and features all-UK YA titles and uses small UK businesses to supply all the wonderful things that come with the book. You can find out more here in case you want to sign up for it yourself. Here’s a pic of April’s box from the @PaperOrangeUK Insta:
In non-bookish news, I’ve had some fun adventures lately. I spent an afternoon writing (mostly eating cake TBH) with Dawn Kurtagich at Gladstone’s Library, and actually remembered to take some pics this time.
And I went to the stunning Bodrhyddan Hall, where they held an exhibition of military throughout the ages - from Romans and Vikings right through to the Iraq War. It was really interesting, and I got to watch them shooting gigantic crossbow thingies (can you tell I absorbed all the terminology?)
Interview with Tracy Darnton

Tracy Darnton is a writer for children and young adults who loves writing thought-provoking, intelligent thrillers. Her most recent, Ready or Not, is out 12 May. Her first novel was The Truth About Lies, followed by The Rules. Tracy is a former solicitor and now teaches on the MA Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. 

You can follow Tracy on Twitter @TracyDarnton and Instagram @TracyDarnton and find out more about Tracy and her books on her website.


About Ready Or Not

Shared family holidays at Creek House have been the backdrop to Millie's summers since forever. Hanging out with the other kids - Matt, Charlie, Jem and her best friend Kat - has made it her favourite time of the year.

But this holiday things are different - the childhood games that once filled their days have lost their appeal to everyone except Millie. It's not until the final night that the others agree to a game of hide and seek. But in the time it takes Millie to count to twenty, Kat vanishes.

One year on, and struggling to come to terms with the events of last summer, Millie persuades the others to return to Creek House. It's meant to give them closure, but it could be a chance to find out what happened. After all, people don't just disappear, do they?

Ready Or Not comes out 12 May from Little Tiger. You can preorder it here

Kat: Millie was such an interesting lead character: the youngest in her group of friends, a little starry-eyed about her friend Kat, but smart and tenacious for someone who tends to be a bit overlooked. How did she evolve as you wrote the book?

Tracy: Yes, Millie is the youngest at 15 when 16-year-old ‘best friend’ Kat goes missing. I wanted her to be the youngest of the group, and the least mature. I tell the story through Millie’s eyes.

Millie’s naïve about the workings of friendships and relationships. Her parents put a lot of academic pressure on her too. She’s slightly on the outside of this precocious, confident, wealthy bunch of teenagers. Sometimes she’s an observer, literally watching from behind a curtain or behind a tree. She’s often dismissed as childish Millie-Moo but she’s the one who pushes for the group to return to Creek House, one year on. They’re looking for closure - but Millie also needs answers.

She writes notes to Kat in her notebook as instructed by her counsellor and through those we can see inside her head a little more and see her gradually re-evaluate her ‘very best’ friendship with Kat – even down to how she signs off the letters. But whether we ever get completely in her head, I’ll leave to the reader.

Kat: I love how the narrative unfolds through glimpses at Kat’s last summer with Millie and the others at Creek House and Millie in the present — like flipping back and forth in a photo album. Did this make it easier or harder for you to write?

Tracy: That’s a good way to describe it. My Ready or Not notebook is full of dates and post-its to keep track of it all. But, honestly, I just don’t seem to have the right sort of brain to write a book with a straightforward narrative. I do add dates at the top of each chapter and I use different tenses to help out but I have to trust the reader to piece it all together – past and present timelines, newspaper articles, her notebook and police transcripts.

Kat: Without giving away any spoilers, the twist at the end of Ready or Not has to be one of my all-time favourites. Was the ending one you knew from the start, or did it change through your drafts?

Tracy: Thank you for saying that! I always start a new book with a sense of an ending. I wrote the first paragraph and the final Millie section when I first pitched the idea to my then editor. These are practically unchanged in the final book. So far so good, but then I have to fill in all the bits in the middle and work out what happened as I go along, always with an eye on that final tone of ending. The nitty gritty practicalities of how to achieve that ending are gradually revealed, often with help from my crit partners.

Kat: All your books so far have been twisty YA thrillers; is this a genre you’ve always enjoyed reading/writing?

Tracy: Back to my strange brain again – puzzles, subtext, foreshadowing and misdirection are all very appealing to me. I get huge satisfaction from writing a good ending – that’s definitely my favourite part of the process.

I do writing prompts online with friends every Friday afternoon (Chitra Soundar’s Write30) and while everyone else comes up with lovely picture book or middle grade ideas and writing, I definitely lurch towards the darker stories. I can’t help myself. I certainly have the highest character death count of the group. Not sure what that says about me, but I must add that, in my experience, thriller writers are the nicest bunch of people you’re likely to meet. Honest.

And as for me as a reader, it’s such a fantastic time for UKYA thrillers. Tight plotting, brilliant characters, twisty endings and heaps of originality means that I’m sometimes disappointed if I switch and read an ‘adult’ one.

Kat: What’s next for you? 

Tracy: I’m excited to have a real, live book launch at Mr B’s Emporium. My last book, The Rules, was launched online in my bunker basement during 2020, so I’m looking forward to having actual people in the room. And after all the trials of the last couple of years, it’s great to be putting festivals and school visits in the diary again and I can’t wait to sign books in person and chat to readers – maybe about that ending…

On my radar
Books – I’m currently reading A Midnight Dark and Golden by Holly Race which comes out next month and concludes the epic Mightnight’s Twins urban fantasy trilogy. It’s such a wonderful series, and this book is everything I wanted the final book to be. I’ll be sharing an interview with Holly in next month’s newsletter, so keep an eye out for that.

I’ve been on a real fantasy kick lately, finally getting around to some brilliant books from my TBR. First, I devoured Katharine & Elizabeth Corr’s A Throne of Swans duology (fantastic – ALL the stars!); Small Favours by Erin Craig, which is a dark and creepy folk tale that I absolutely loved, and The Kinder Poison & The Cruelest Mercy by Natalie Mae which were also amazing, and I can’t wait to read the final book in the trilogy when it comes out next year.
If you’re looking for a really fun paranormal adventure story with tons of heart and 2 fab sisterly protagonists, you need to watch out for Big Bad Me by Aislinn O’Loughlin when it comes out in October. I just finished this one and it was such a great read — it gave me real Buffy and Supernatural vibes… maybe with a touch of Ginger Snaps.
TV & Movies – Really the only 2 things I’ve watched this month have been Heartstopper (LOVE) and The Last Kingdom, which in case you haven’t seen it is a series about the Danes and Saxons under King Alfred’s rule. I’m really enjoying it, though it is entirely responsible for my recent habit of calling my husband and cats ‘arseling’.

Music – I’ve been listening to some pretty slinky, chilled out music this month. If you’re in the mood for something of that description, try Boyfriend by Dove Cameron and The Perfect Girl by Mareux.
In next month’s newsletter look out for an interview with Holly Race, author of the Midnight’s Twins trilogy, as well as lots more bookish news. n the meantime, don’t forget to enter the giveaway! Closes 20th May.

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

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