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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, at my desk, in heatwave attire.
As well as being hot as balls lately, it seems to be a time for anniversaries; I just celebrated 10 years with my agent, the brilliant Molly Ker Hawn, and 15 years married to my wonderful husband. Coming up on 9th July, it will be 2 years since Harrow Lake’s UK release as well, and so it feels like I should mark the occasion... Let’s have a giveaway, then! Read on for details.
What’s coming for you…
In this newsletter, you will find:
  • my latest news, events and adventures 
  • an interview with Aneesa Marufu, author of The Balloon Thief
  • what’s on my radar: books, TV, movies, music
Latest news, events & adventures
A writing update: while I wait for news on a couple of projects, I’m now firmly seated back at my writing desk while I work on drafting 2 new YA novels: a YA horror, and — in a departure from my usual stuff, though still creepy AF ­— a YA fantasy. 

When I’m not drafting, I’ll be taking part in plenty of online events over the coming months. There’s a series of yet-to-be-announced interviews on the @UKYAbooks Instagram account which will be going on throughout the school summer holidays, plus 3 events I’m really excited for as part of YA Thriller Con starting 7th Just. Here’s the full schedule for the con.  

In June I was the guest author on Delete My Browser History podcast, hosted by fabulously creepy authors Cynthia Murphy and Georgia Bowers. For my guest slot, I was asked to talk about something creepy I’d researched for my writing, so naturally I talked about… leeches. Judging by the hosts’ horrified expressions, I feel like I did my job. If you’d like to listen to the podcast, you can here, or for the fully glory of Cynthia and Georgia obviously reconsidering inviting me onto their show, you can watch it on Youtube here
In non-bookish adventures, I recently visited the site of a Norman motte-and-bailey castle in Rhuddlan called Twtil. Nothing remains now except the mound (and a much later-built castle a few feet away!) but the views from the top were glorious.
Harrow Lake Anniversary Giveaway!
If you’d like to win one of THREE signed copies of Harrow Lake, please email with ‘Harrow Lake giveaway’ in the subject line. I’ll choose 3 winners at random on Friday 22 July. UK/Ireland only. Good luck!
You can also find out more about Harrow Lake and my other books here - and there are some handy links to where you can buy from online vendors, too. 
Interview with Aneesa Marufu

I finished The Balloon Thief early last month, and its world and characters were so unique and brimming with life, I haven't stopped thinking about them. So I'm thrilled to be sharing an interview the author!

Aneesa Marufu lives in Manchester and was the winner of the Kimberley Chambers Kickstart Prize for underrepresented writers in 2019. Her debut novel, The Balloon Thief, is inspired by her South Asian heritage and her obsession with hot air balloons, though she is yet to fly in one!

When she isn’t dreaming up stories set in the clouds, she has both feet on the ground, running after her two children or hunting for her next fantasy book to escape into.

You can find out more about Aneesa and her books on her website and follow her on Twitter @aneesamarufu and Instagram @aneesa.marufu

About The Balloon Thief

For Khadija, the only escape from her father’s arranged betrothal is the sky. When she spots a rogue hot air balloon fighting against its ropes, she leaps at the chance for adventure. Khadija soon finds an unlikely ally in a poor glassmaker’s apprentice, Jacob.

But Jacob is a hāri, and Khadija a Ghadaean. The hāri are oppressed and restless – their infamous terrorist group, the Hāreef, have a new fearsome leader. And the ruling Ghadaeans are brutal in their repression.

Soon, a deadly revolution threatens their friendship and their world. The Hāreef use forbidden magic, summoning jinn – wicked spirits made of fire – to enact their revenge, forcing Jacob and Khadija to choose what kind of a world they want to save…
There are links to buy The Balloon Thief from various vendors here

Kat: Hot air ballooning and glass blowing are two key occupations in The Balloon Thief - what inspired you to centre these in your story?
Aneesa: When I first sat down to write The Balloon Thief, all I had in my mind was a story centred around flight, something that would quell my obsession for things that fly! Hot air ballooning came about during the midst of the pandemic, and long summer afternoons gazing out the window at the sky. Hot air balloons became almost symbolic with escapism and my longing for adventure. As the story unfolded and the characters became their own, I realised that in the same way as hot air ballooning was Khadija’s freedom and a chance at a new life, glassblowing for Jacob became his escape and granted him the agency to take control of his own life.
Kat: I loved seeing the various magical creatures in this book — many of which were new to me. Which was your favourite to write about?
Aneesa: It would have to be the Jinniya Queens as their images were so distinctive in my mind. Whilst Queen Mardzma was a ferocious warrior queen, Queen Bidhukh was an underwater enchantress. Imagining these characters, everything from the sound of their voices to the way they dressed, was so vivid in my head. They were definitely my favourite to write about!
Kat: While The Balloon Thief has a fantasy setting, it explores real-world themes such as racism, radicalisation, transphobia, and misogyny in a really interesting way. Were these themes at the forefront of your mind while plotting the novel, or did they come to light as the story unfolded?
Aneesa: I would say that I always knew I wanted to write a book the centred around race. The idea to write a story about the impact of racism in a fantasy world came about firstly for my love of fantasy as a genre for its ability to explore different worlds and cultures without the constraints of reality. I have always loved reading and learning about different cultures, so what I wanted to show with The Balloon Thief was the impact of racism and racial segregation on the two main characters, who are from two opposing races, and how they manage to still preserve their friendship even when society is forcing them apart. As the two characters learn about one another and grow to trust each other, they discover that they are not as different as they originally thought and that is when their prejudice and preconceptions about the other start to melt away. As the story and its characters developed, it became apparent that this was a book that would also focus on other forms of intolerance and inequality, such as misogyny and transphobia.
Kat: If you could take a hot air balloon and visit any setting or character in the book, which would you choose?
Aneesa: I would visit the jinn realm to see all the different types of jinn and creatures that live there. It would be frightening of course, and most likely dangerous, but it would certainly be exciting!
Kat: What’s next for you? 
Aneesa: I am currently working on a sequel to The Balloon Thief, which I unfortunately can’t say too much about! I will also be appearing at YALC alongside some amazing authors on the 8th July.


On my radar
Books – June was a fantastic reading month. As well as finishing the brilliant The Balloon Thief by Aneesa Marufu, I got to read a proof of Daughter of Darkness by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr (seriously, AMAZING Greek mythology-inspired fantasy) and Mina and the Slayers by Amy McCaw (one of my most anticipated sequels of the year — and it definitely delivered!)

Two of my other favourites from this month were Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber — a really fun fantasy full of romance and adventure, and The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros, which was a fantastic post-apocalyptic YA set in Nebo, which isn’t far from where I live in North Wales.
On my TBR for July are Tag, You’re Dead by Kathryn Foxfield (sooo excited for this one as I’m a huge fan of Kathryn’s first two books), Melinda Salisbury’s Her Dark Wings, Benjamin Dean’s The King is Dead, and two more sequels I’m dying to read: Twice Hexed by Julia Tuffs (hilarious, witchy, feminist YA) and Release by Lucy Christopher (an Adult psychological thriller, sequel to the incredible YA kidnap story, Stolen.)
TV & Movies – This month I went to the cinema for the first time in years, and it was to see Jurassic World: Dominion. Man, I love a monster movie, and this was no exception. On one of my regular Friday movie nights with my friend in South Africa, Jani (hi Jani!), we watched Love & Gelato – a really fun coming-of-age movie set in Italy. I definitely recommend it if you’re in the mood for something light and fun. Coming up, I’ll be spending this weekend watching the latest instalments of Stranger Things, and I can’t wait!

Music – I have absolutely rinsed the song Punching Bag by Palaye Royale this month (and a lot of their other songs TBF) partly because the singer, Remington Leith, reminds me so much of one of the main characters from the novel I finished writing a little while ago (incidentally the same story I was Googling leeches for). Anyway, this song is amazing and so is his voice. Another track I’ve been listening to lately is ADHD by Two Feet — it’s kind of sombre but with a beat that just nails you in the chest. Hope you like it.
In next month’s newsletter look out for an interview with Katharine and Elizabeth Corr, as well as lots more bookish news and another giveaway! In the meantime, don’t forget to enter this month’s Harrow Lake giveaway – closes 22 July.

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

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