2020 Snapshot: Kat Clay

Kat Clay is a crime and horror author from Melbourne, Australia. In 2017, she was longlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger award for her unpublished novel, Victorianoir. Her short story ‘Lady Loveday Investigates’ won three prizes at the 2018 Scarlet Stiletto Awards, including the Kerry Greenwood Prize for Best Malice Domestic.

Her novella, Double Exposure, was released in print and e-book with Crime Factory and was longlisted for the Davitt Award for Australian women’s crime fiction. In 2015 she was awarded a Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature Travel Grant to attend the World Fantasy Convention.

She has been nominated for Aurealis and Ditmar Awards, shortlisted in the SQ Mag Short Story Contest for her horror tale Reef, and received an honorable mention in the Australian Horror Writers Association Shadows Awards for non-fiction criticism. She is represented by Paul Stevens at Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Her fiction traverses noir, horror, fantasy and the weird, exploring topics such as sinister cities, psychogeographies and the representation of women in fiction. When she’s tired of being serious, as a devotee of Miss Austen, she delves into social satire. Kat’s non-fiction work has been featured in The Victorian Writer, Literary Traveler, TNT, Travel Weekly, Matador Network and Weird Fiction Review.

Kat holds undergraduate degrees in Media Arts and International Studies, as well as a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing from UTS. While studying at university, she completed a year abroad at the Universite de Poitiers, France. She speaks French and has visited over 35 countries, including living in South Korea for a year. 

Her hobbies include hiking in national parks around the world, eating mint choc tops at retro cinemas and completing video games on nightmare mode.

1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

I see myself primarily as a novelist, so I have been working on a new psychological horror novel inspired by classical music. The book is nearly done; I’m in the final stages of editing it after getting positive feedback from my beta readers. Editing, as we all know, is hard. It’s a soul-rending process, a crucible for words. Focusing on novels means that there are long drinks between publications. I feel like I’m in a strange limbo state – I have an agent, but I’m not at that stage where I’ve sold a novel (yet!). This will be my fourth completed novel manuscript in ten years, and I think it’s the best yet. I may be biased…

While I’m pottering around my novel manuscript, I’m also trying to write some more short stories. I recently had a horror short published in Aurealis magazine called “Selfie”. It’s about an influencer who goes to a tropical island on the trip of a lifetime, only for things to go very wrong. It looks at all the things we put ourselves through in order to be attractive on social media. I’m writing a couple more shorts, working on a science fiction story that I’ve had in my head for four years. I’m a notoriously slow writer when it comes to processing ideas. I like to sit on things for a while and percolate before putting pen to paper.

I’ve also been writing the odd piece of non-fiction criticism, including an essay I am very excited about in Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985, edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre, coming in 2021. My essay is “On Earth the air is free: the feminist science fiction of Judith Merrill”, and through it I was able to explore a lot of that great experimental science fiction of the 1960s. The book is going to be a fantastic addition to science fiction criticism.

As for new projects, I have been told by my loved ones NO MORE NOVELS for the time being, but I can’t resist the siren’s call.

2. What has been the best publishing experience of your career so far?

I’ve had a couple of really great wins in the past couple of years. Winning three prizes at the 2018 Scarlet Stiletto Awards, including the Kerry Greenwood Prize for Best Malice Domestic, was a real highlight for me. Receiving the awards at a gala dinner organised by Sisters in Crime was an incredible feeling. I ended up on the front page of the local newspaper!

Another highlight was being longlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Awards in the UK for my unpublished manuscript Victorianoir. It meant I was in the top ten entries out of hundreds of books.

There’s always a next step in the publishing journey, from when you get your first article published to selling a novel. A big step for me was getting my agent; I had worked so hard polishing my manuscript and querying that it was a huge validation for my writing, not to mention landing at the agency I’d really wanted to work with – I’m with Paul Stevens at Donald Maass Literary Agency. In any case, I’m looking forward to the next publishing adventure.

3. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge?

I am a huge fan of Elaine Cuyegkeng’s work – she is not as well known as she ought to be in Australia, but she is one of the few working authors in Australia who has been nominated for the BSFA. You can read All These Constellations Will Be Yours at Strange Horizons: http://strangehorizons.com/fiction/these-constellations-will-be-yours/

I adored Sam Hawke’s debut novel City of Lies, which was an absolute page turner with great characters. I can’t wait to read her next book.

While there’s too much to keep track of, I would recommend reading some of the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror series which gives a good overview of those working today. https://ticonderogapublications.com/web/index.php/years-best-australian-fantasy-and-horror

I am very much looking forward to reading the Black Cranes: an Asian women in horror anthology coming soon from editors Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn. https://horrortree.com/wihm-asian-western-perspectives-of-being-perpetual-outsiders/

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