I’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.
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.
I’ve just received some amazing advance praise for The Monster’s Wife from one of my favourite authors, Sara Maitland:
That Mary Shelley has a lot to answer for!
This is an extraordinary novel, an honourable response (neither venerating nor sneering) to its progenitor, while being startlingly original. Kate Horsley has grounded and voiced her Frankenstein “sequel” in the Orkneys which bring their own mythic load with them and she takes the Gothic to new places, where the darkness of Frankenstein meets the darkness of isolated communities of love and fear and survival. It is brilliantly weird, dark and “horrid” – and it is a tender account of women’s friendships and dreams of freedom. It is profoundly touching and weirdly macabre at the same time. I’ve never read anything quite like it and I think it is wonderful.
Sara is the author of numerous works of fiction, including the Somerset Maugham Award-winning Daughters of Jerusalem, and several non-fiction books about religion. Reading her beautifully meditative A Book of Silence was one of the things that drew me towards Orkney to research and write the novel in the first place and her short stories collected in Moss Witch, exploring scientific concepts through the lens of myth, metaphor and fairytale, were a source of great inspiration to me in my own mythic retelling. I never expected such a moving and thrilling response to my own work from a writer I regard so highly and I was near to tears reading her words.
Me making a nuisance of myself back when.
At the moment I’m working on a new novel, The American Girl, the first in a planned trilogy of psychological thrillers with a female lead. So far it’s been a sybaritic experience to immerse myself in the sun-drenched world of a small French town replete with a cast of eccentric local characters, all with their own dark secrets. The novel is part crime fiction, part autobiography drawn from my teenage adventures in the South of France (I came. I saw. I didn’t kill anyone, I swear…)
One feverish summer. One cold corpse.
Quincy Perkins is sixteen when her father sends her to a small French town to get rid of her for the summer. She expects to be bored in St. Roch, where her too-cool exchange Noémie does nothing but lounge at the local pool, sunbathing and flirting with boys. But when Noémie’s older brother Raphael arrives, everything changes. A small-town hero with a tragic past, he tells Quincy about his life in Paris, his dreams and regrets. Suddenly they’re in love…
And then Raphael turns up dead. Quincy was at a drunken party with him before he disappeared. To make matters worse, she has no clear memory of what went on that night. The town turns against her and the American girl becomes everyone’s favourite suspect.
Now Quincy must find out if she has blood on her hands, a journey that will take her to the darkest place of all.
I’m thrilled to bits with this eye-catching cover for my first novel, The Monster’s Wife, due out in July with Barbican Press. The artwork by Jason Anscomb of Rawshock Design is wonderfully original and at the same time absolutely in the spirit of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, from which my novel draws its inspiration. The Arcimbaldoesque collage of natural objects is both beautiful and grotesque, which really resonates with the novel, described below:
And the Bride was made flesh…
To a tiny island in Orkney, peopled by a devout community of thirty, comes Victor Frankenstein, driven there by a Devil’s bargain: to make a wife for the Creature who is stalking him across Europe. In this darkly-wrought answer to Frankenstein, we hear the untold tale of the monster’s wife through the perspective of the doctor’s housemaid. Oona works below stairs with her best friend May, washing the doctor’s linens and keeping the fires lit at the Big House. An orphan whose only legacy is the illness that killed her mother, Oona knows she is doomed. But she is also thirsty for knowledge, determined to know life fully before it slips away. As tensions heighten between Victor and the islanders, Oona becomes the doctor’s trusted accomplice, aiding in secret experiments and seeing horrors she sometimes wishes to forget. When May disappears, Oona must face up to growing suspicions about the enigmatic employer to whom she has grown close – but the truth is darker than anything she could imagine.
I’m just making my final touches to the novel and it’s great to feel like the book is so close to being a tangible object!
I’m excited to learn that Jason Anscomb of Rawshock will be designing the jacket cover for my novel. I think his collage and design work is fab, e.g. this stylish cover (left) for Patrick Süskind’s Perfume. I’ve had a few ideas cover-wise, mainly involving the long, red hair of the main character, Oona, floating away from her in the underwater scene, quoted here:
The boat dipped low. The oar rolled against her fingertips, slid further away. A wave slapped her face. Wood groaned underneath. She fell into the water, kicked against the boat, paddling the way Toby did when they were out on the beach. But she couldn’t move well for the band round her chest. She scrabbled. Her breath hurt. The boat slipped away. Her head went down. She bobbed up, mouth full, eyes burning. The man stepped out of the boat.
She went under. The water was so blue. Sunshine, silver-white, above her. The kind of day when women take their time. The sun soft as a kiss. Her chest on ice. Swallowing salt. Granny said don’t paddle past your knees – a trow will catch you! May held her hand, screaming at the waves.
Her chest sings. The sea is sapphires and silver. A selkie swims up to her with green weed snarled in her hair. Under the sea, girls become selkie wives, soft skin roughening to fins and scales. They can never return to the human world, for their kind don’t know them again. When the selkie comes close, she smiles and Oona knows everything will be alright, because it’s Ma and her arms are open wide.
I don’t know whether there’s some way of working all that into it (!) Maybe not…
I’m delighted to announce that my first novel, The Monster’s Wife, will be published by Barbican Press in June 2014 as both a paperback and an eBook. Martin Goodman, editor at Barbican describes the tagline for their fiction as ‘Writing from the Discomfort Zone’ and The Monster’s Wife certainly fits that!
Following in the tradition of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Seaand Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly, The Monster’s Wife is a literary gothic that re-envisions Mary Shelley’s classic novelFrankenstein from the perspective of the girl Victor Frankenstein transformed into a Bride for his monster. Oona Scollay is a sixteen-year-old scullery maid living on Hoy, a tiny island in Orkney in 1798. When her best friend May disappears, Oona starts asking questions, but her search is thwarted by the conflicted loyalties within her close-knit community. When she turns up shocking evidence, Oona becomes the next victim. A prisoner in a dark room, living a hellish distortion of life, Oona must find a way to escape before her captor completes his plans for revenge.
I am currently working on a final edit and the cover art is under discussion. It all feels very exciting to think of the book emerging into print and I suddenly have a lot of new writing ideas…although I keep reminding myself I have to get this finished off first!