Kate Horsley Menu



Cake Magazine

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Cake MagazineMany thanks to editor Finn Jackson for asking me to write a feature article for the latest issue of Cake Magazine. When she wrote to me to say that the subject for Cake 7 was the body (human, animal, monster), “how we celebrate it, dissect it, wonder and rage at it”, I was intrigued straight away, but it was really her reminder of the “blood-letting and sacrifice stories” I supposedly used to tell in creative writing workshops (something about a goat?) that hooked me.

Today I received my very own shiny and photogenic copy of Beetroot Bake (pictured). Although I had no edible cake with which to accompany this lovely volume, I settled for a monstrous cup of tea and a quiet corner of the garden near to some spiders. There I read the beautiful and macabre poetry and prose works included, which “deal with the body in various states of disease, decay and damage – some with a medical leaning and others with a mythical spin.” Cake is always a beautifully produced and edited publication and it’s an honour to be included in this one, since many of my former students have been involved in this or previous issues.

My ‘Method’ is about illness and recovery as well as questions of authorship, of the text, or the body…and of socks:

My grandma never threw away socks or stockings. She darned them with a little wooden mushroom held on the inside and any-old-wool for the out. I watched her, fascinated. She was like Victor Frankenstein: mending old socks over and again. They looked more loved, post-darning. Maybe that’s why monster-making has always seemed to me like a kind of love.

But how does it feel to the socks, to be rewritten? 

How indeed. I found it a really interesting piece to write that made me think a lot more about texts and bodies and reading and writing and the motivations behind my own work than I normally would. Be warned, though, if you were expecting goats, you may be disappointed.

Cake 7 is available to buy here.


Monster’s Wife Reading at Lancaster University


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unilogoFrankensteinI’m really looking forward to visiting Lancaster next week to talk about The Monster’s Wife and catch up with old friends. So if you happen to be in County Main next Wednesday at 4pm feeling at a loose end, it would be lovely to see you there!

“Our former Creative Writing MA student, Dr Kate Horsley, will be visiting on Wednesday 4th March to give a reading from her book ‘The Monster’s Wife’, which has been shortlisted for the Scottish First Book of the Year Award. The event will take place in County Main SR1 at 4pm – all are welcome.”

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Bride of Frankenstein Art Collaboration

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I’ve recently had another chance to collaborate with artist Vineta Gailite. Vineta’s hand-made dolls, sculptures and shadow puppet theatre work, Imaginary Islands, are beautiful, eery and full of atmosphere. I love the way each of her pieces tells a story or draws on one. For our last project together, I commissioned Vineta to make some special puppets and in return I made her a hand-coloured ambrotype of them. Then there was the time Violet, Vineta and I spent an afternoon improvising short plays for Vineta’s Imaginary Islands project. As you can see in this video, we came up with some pretty surreal stuff!

For our most recent work, Vineta drew inspiration from The Monster’s Wife and classic iconography of the Bride of Frankenstein, especially Elsa Lanchester’s interpretation. We met in the summer to discuss ideas and made some vague and byzantine plans. Then a few weeks later Vineta sent me some images of what she was creating and I was completely blown away by her wonderfully creative and detailed work in creating a dress for Oona/ the Bride from my novel and a large scale puppet of the ‘Frankensrooster’, Oona’s pet cockerel Orpheus which is brought back to life by Victor early on in the book. We’ve now begun to plan the next stage: a series of wet plate images of Vineta’s creations and possibly a piece of puppet theatre too.

Have a look at the gallery below to see images of Vineta’s amazing creations.


Scottish First Book of the Year Award

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Walking through the valley on Hoy.

Walking around Hoy to research The Monster’s Wife.

I was so thrilled when my publisher at Barbican Press, Martin Goodman, called to tell me I’d been shortlisted for the Scottish First Book of the Year (Saltire) Award. I travelled to Hoy and wrote The Monster’s Wife out of my fascination with Shelley’s novel, with Orkney as place and because of my sense of the developing character of “the Bride”. It was a very personal project. I was so happy when I found out that it had been shortlisted for this award alongside the work of other writers I admire.

The Monster’s Wife is set at the end of the 18th century and when Dr Frankenstein arrives unnatural disasters begin. Panic spreads, affecting everyone but Oona. An illness, which leaves her little time to live, renders her fearless. She starts working for the doctor, despite the community turning against him, and is drawn into his experiments.

The inspiration for it came from reading chapter 19 of Shelley’s Frankenstein, where Victor chooses to create a second creature, a bride for the monster, in Orkney. In the original story, which has inspired scores of films, Frankenstein says: “I traversed the northern Highlands and fixed on one of the remotest, the Orkneys, as the scene.” There he “creates” the bride to satiate his monster’s demands.

In order to research the book, I made a trip to the island of Hoy in Orkney and drew much of my inspiration from the landscape there. There have been some lovely pieces on the book in The Orcadian and The Scotsman since the nomination as well as reviews in the Scottish Herald and the Saltire Society Blog. Here’s an account of how I ‘found the Bride of Frankenstein on Orkney’ in Scotland on Sunday:


And here’s a radio interview I did with Good Morning Scotland. My bit starts at 2:42 or so.



Launch event at The Atlantis Bookshop


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Me at Atlantis BooksMany thanks to everyone who came to the London launch event for The Monster’s Wife last Thursday at the marvellous Atlantis Bookshop in London! It was a lovely evening and I had so much fun seeing old friends and meeting new people too. In the end I even enjoyed the reading, having been a little bit nervous beforehand! Bali and Geraldine, the mother and daughter team who own Atlantis gave everyone such a warm welcome (and kept their wine glasses topped up unstintingly). I couldn’t have hoped for a better event for the book.

street partyAtlantis is ‘the oldest Independent Occult Bookshop in London’, a fantastic gem of an indie just off of Oxford Street. It’s full of unusual books about magic, witchcraft, celtic lore and the occult and was the perfect venue to launch The Monster’s Wife. Geraldine and Bali are lovely and provided wine and cheese followed by a bit of a street party, which continued in the Museum Tavern nearby. One of the biggest highlights for me was having my almost whole family there, including my little nieces Chloe and Annie who provided a great deal of entertainment. Chloe (aged 4 and a half) helped me sign the books we sold, so there are some special editions out there decorated with tiny portraits of each person the book was signed to…


Reviews of The Monster’s Wife

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The Monster's WifeI’ve read some lovely reviews of The Monster’s Wife so far. It’s really nice to know that reviewers have enjoyed the book. Much of what they’ve said has been really insightful and thought-provoking too. Here are some extracts and links to US and UK reviews on the web:

Review by Sue Sheard: “an excellent read for the long dark nights of winter. ★★★★★”

Oona makes a magnificent protagonist for modern times; determined, feisty and dogmatic. She exemplifies the troubled teenager struggling to fit into a life where she feels she does not belong and refuses to give up her beliefs. No matter what life and the harsh Orkney weather coupled with her failing health throw at Oona, her stubbornness and sense of integrity force her to carry on seeking to find the truth despite the reactions and treatment of her fellow islanders.”



Mysterious BibliophileMysterious Bibliophile Review by Irene McKenna: “I stayed up most of the night, turning pages, so I could finish the book.”

“Horsley’s novel is an eloquent tribute to its original source, and at the same time, she has created something unique and intriguing. In keeping with Frankenstein‘s romantic roots, The Monster’s Wife is somewhat poetic in style, with language rich in imagery and metaphor, and carefully observes the natural world. I loved the vibrant descriptions of the coast of a small Scottish island…This is an impressive debut novel by this author. I expect it will be popular with readers of classics, fans of mystery and suspense novels, and lovers of general fiction. The story and characters will definitely stick with me for some time to come.”



Barda Book TalkBarda Book Talk Review by Carole Besharah: “With its vibrant imagery and meticulous details, The Monster’s Wife will have a firm grip on you from the start.”

“If I were to sum up Horsley’s style in a few words, it would be poetic, visceral, and gut-wrenching… The momentum of this story never relents, unlike that of Frankenstein that has its lulls. I will not ruin The Monster’s Wife by further discussing the plot. I will tell you this: you will not be able to put the book down. And, oh, the ending! What a fitting, unexpected ending to such an engrossing story.”



logo_turquise_LOVEWe Love this Book Review by Cara Fielder: “an absolute must read for any gothic fans”

“It is a joy to report that The Monster’s Wife should cause no such trepidation. Horsley captures the dark isolation of small community and island life with a creepy charm. Without resorting to gothic tropes she engulfs you in a claustrophobic world that may fill you with tension but will certainly keep you reading. The Monster’s Wife is an absolute must read for any gothic fans and especially for lovers of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein



Charlie StellaTemporary Knucksline Review by Charlie Stella: “a wonderfully scripted tale about love between things that go bump in the night”

“Mary Shelley gave us Frankenstein. Kate Horsley, with brilliant descriptive prose, presents his bride. The Monster’s Wife is a wonderfully scripted tale about love between things that go bump in the night. Kate Horsley’s brilliant historical novel is more than an adjunct to the Shelley classic; it is a powerful statement about strong women and their ability to hold our interest on the page as well as in life.”


Plastic Rosaries


Plastic Rosaries Review by Beth: “an absolute must for fans of Frankenstein

“Oona’s character is the best element of this novel by far, she grows with it but not to a maturity which would be unnatural for her adolescence. The second half of the novel races much faster than the first but it works perfectly as the plot thickens and Horsley has made an already classic gothic tale even more memorable. Oona’s character is far more memorable than some of those in Shelley’s original tale which is why I think it will remain with me for a long time…”



Antonio UriasReview by Antonio Urias: “Ambitious, moody, and deeply enjoyable.”

Oona is a wild, stifled young woman, doomed by the same illness that killed her mother, she lives her life in the shadow of her impending death, dreams of escape and the world beyond. May is her closest friend, the rock she clings too, but May is slipping away, and they find themselves drawn to the mysterious Dr. Frankenstein, becoming his accomplices. Their relationship takes several dark turns, as Oona fumbles her way towards understanding Frankenstein and his purpose for them. The Monster’s Wife is a lyrical and touching debut. Horsley has created a gothic world of her own out of Shelley’s novel and allows the reader’s knowledge to haunt the story, as she slowly builds towards her tragic yet hopeful climax. Ambitious, moody, and deeply enjoyable.



Summer Reading ProjectSummer Reading Project Review by Annie Smith: “read the plot summary of Frankenstein on Wikipedia, then go read The Monster’s Wife.”

“I love retellings of classic stories (as long as they can live up to the quality of the original.) The Monster’s Wife is an epilogue to Frankenstein. Fortunately, Horsley more than lives up to the original. In fact, I liked this book a lot more than Frankenstein because there’s so much more action and suspense and the philosophizing doesn’t grind the narrative to a screeching halt.”



Lit/RantLit/Rant Review by Kel Munger: “a true literary gothic novel”

“This is a true literary gothic novel, and Horsley is respectful of Mary Shelley’s vision and original text. Her skill at developing Oona and her friend, May, as characters makes this into a tragedy of technology as destroyer of culture—which is, indeed, far closer to Shelley’s original than most adaptations and re-creations ever get.

The British-based Barbican Press is a small literary publisher; if the rest of their list matches the caliber of this fine novel, they’ll be a house to keep an eye on for American readers of literary fiction.”



What I’ve Read Review by Eamonn Griffin: “this is a fine debut and you should read it.”

What I've ReadThe Monster’s Wife is a revisiting of Mary Shelley’s tale… and is huge amounts of fun throughout, as well as dealing sensitively with a range of themes (isolation, mortality, covert relationships, nature). On top of that there’s more than a nod to the Gothic. The writing’s rich throughout, offering something for those whose tastes run to the literary as well as to the genre-friendly, be that historical fiction, SFF, queer writing (and all the more for those who like a bit of each at the same time, matron). You might guess where things may be headed story-wise from the title. You might not. I’m not going to tell you. It would spoil the surprise.”




Upcoming Events for The Monster’s Wife

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It’s only a short while until my debut novel is available on Amazon and in bookshops and it seems like a good time to mention some of the upcoming events for The Monster’s Wife:

Atlantis BooksThursday September 18th, 6:30 -8:30 at the Atlantis Bookshop in London.

Atlantis is ‘the oldest Independent Occult Bookshop in London’, a fantastic gem of an indie just off of Oxford Street. It’s full of unusual books about magic, witchcraft, celtic lore and the occult and seemed to me like the perfect venue to launch The Monster’s Wife. The staff in there are lovely and have promised wine, cheese and a bit of a street party, which will continue in a marvellous den of iniquity nearby.

porticoFriday September 26th, 7:00 – 9:00 at the Portico Library in Manchester.

The Portico Library houses a mainly 19th century collection which “provides a tangible insight into the Georgian and Victorian culture of Boomtown Manchester”. It’s a wonderful library and gallery with a fantastic atmosphere. The launch will be held in the reading room and there will be wine and cheese followed by a visit to the pub.

The Larkin Centre
Thursday November 30th, ‘A Bride for Frankenstein’ from 6:30 at the Larkin Centre in Hull.

I’ll be talking to Martin Goodman about my writing process and books, places and real-life events that inspired me to write The Monster’s Wife.

I’m also doing an interview with Radio Europe this coming week as well as events at Chester and Lancaster Universities in the near future.


National Heritage Weekend Wet Plate Event

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Todmorden_A4National HeritageTo celebrate National Heritage WeekendJohn Brewer and I will be taking wet plate portraits for this two-day event on Saturday September 13th and Sunday September 14th organised by Michele Selway in Todmorden Unitarian Church. The church is a fantastic venue, “full of quirky features and secret places, managing to be both grand and imposing, and warm and welcoming at the same time.”



Local art in Todmorden Unitarian Church


National Heritage Weekend Wet Plate Event
13th and 14th September 2014
Todmorden Unitarian Church,
West Yorkshire
Honey Hole Road OL14 6LE

There will be lots of lovely stuff to enjoy at this event, including the local art that decorates the church, home-made cakes, grounds to picnic in and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. So please drop by for tea, cake, art and of course… making metal and glass plates with large format Victorian cameras! Props available. Fancy dress optional.


Advance Praise from K J Wignall


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BloodI’m honoured and touched to have received some fantastic advance praise for The Monster’s Wife from K J Wignall, an author whose work I’ve long admired:



This is a superb debut, an atmospheric and gripping mystery that picks up where the original Frankenstein left off.  But to call it a sequel would do it no justice, because this book is fresh and original, and bursting with the most beautiful and lyrical prose.  A stunning novel. endquotes


K J Wignall

K J Wignall

K J Wignall is the author of the Mercian Trilogy, “the most compelling vampire books for young adults since the Twilight Saga.” As Kevin Wignall, he’s published four crime novels and a number of acclaimed short stories and has been nominated for an Edgar in the US and for the CWA Short Story Dagger in the UK. All his work has attracted film interest and two of his novels – including For the Dogs – are currently under option. I love For the Dogs and will be very excited to see the film version when it comes out. I’m thrilled that one of my favourite authors said such kind things about The Monster’s Wife.


Chorlton Arts Festival

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May_Wet_PlateCAFLogoforWebAs part of Chorlton Arts Festival, John Brewer and I will be taking wet plate portraits for this two-day event on Saturday May 24th and Sunday May 25th organised by Michele Selway in a pop-up shop on Chorlton High Road. Chorlton Arts Festival is one of the UK’s leading multi-arts festivals. Now in its 14th year, the festival showcases local and national talent in music, comedy, visual arts, performance and more, working with over 30 venues in Chorlton.

Wet Plate Event

Saturday & Sunday, 24th &25th May 2014

10:00 am – 5:00 pm

486 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, M21 9AS

There will be lots of fantastic stuff to enjoy at the festival, including music, art, performance and this fun event at the old barbecue meat shop. So please drop by for tea, cake, vintage clothes, art prints and of course… making metal and glass plates with large format Victorian cameras! Props available. Fancy dress optional.