Meet Kat Day

Every Friday, we meet a member of the BFS and peer deep into their soul (or, at least, a form they filled out). Want to be featured? Email us: online@britishfantasysociety.org

Name, including preferred pronouns:
Kat Day (she/her)

Which region are you based in?
Oxfordshire, UK

If you write, which genre: 
Sci-fi, fantasy, horror (I’ve written all of these, as short stories)

If you don’t write, what do you do?
I do write, but I also work as an editor – at PseudoPod and as a medical editor in my day job.

Are you drawn to any specific SFFH sub-genres?
Not dramatically. In horror, I lean towards body horror and weird horror, and dark fantasy. For fantasy, I generally prefer fantasy set in versions of the ‘real’ world rather than epic fantasy worlds – with the notable exception of Discworld!

Your influences

Tell us about the book/film/thing that got you into SFFH: What was it? How old were you? What impact did it have on you?

It’s hard to place it… I remember reading the Mr. Men books at a young age, which we probably don’t think of as fantasy, but they are, really – and some of the original ones are really quite dark in places. I also remember reading traditional fairy tales – terrifying versions that were not at all child-suitable! I still have a battered Reader’s Digest two-volume collection (pictured). I started Discworld in my early teens and read every book as they were published, and I picked up Ursula K. Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea fairly early. Like all ’80s children, I also read several Stephen King novels before I really ought to have done!  

How does that early influence show up in your work now?

Darkness inevitably finds its way into my writing. And Terry Pratchett has been a huge influence, not so much the comedy aspects, but rather his way of looking at the world, of pushing metaphors to breaking point, of poking around under the skin of things to find the truth. And his habit of starting sentences with ‘and’ 😉

A small piece of Kat’s Discworld collection

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

I’m always looking for themes. I want to know what’s driving a story. Sometimes my attention is caught by a question, but mostly it’s a thought that I realise is sparking an emotion – I always know I’m onto a winner then.   

Who do you look to as a genre hero? Why?

Terry Pratchett and Ursula K. Le Guin, of course.

(Image of Terry Pratchett below taken from his website.)

In terms of living authors, I think Neil Gaiman is probably up there. Quite apart from his writing, he’s done, and continues to do, so many good things, including supporting numerous charities and other important causes. He’s invested huge amounts of love and care into the adaptations of his work, and always seems to be generous with fans.

There are many, many wonderful newer authors of course, but heroes take a little time to forge, I think.  

Your work

You’re stuck in an elevator for 60 seconds with that hero, and they want you to describe your work. Give us the pitch.

Haha! If I were in an elevator with Neil Gaiman, I wouldn’t be telling him about myself, I’d be asking him questions! And thanking him for taking such good care of Good Omens.

But, in the spirit of the question: I most often write flash fiction, because I love the rhythm and beats of very short stories. I also believe in the power of the spoken story – at PseudoPod we tell the very best horror stories. And we promise you, they’re true. 

(Image of Neil Gaiman from Masterclass)

What are you working on right now?

PseudoPod-related work, always. We’re currently reading stories written in 1929, which will go into the public domain next year. Soon we’ll be reading for our annual anthologies and collections call. 

As I write this, I’m in the middle of the Codex Weekend Warrior contest, in which members of the online Codex Writers’ Group write one piece of flash fiction every weekend for five weeks. It’s a lot of work, but it’s always worth it – I always find I’ve at least one good piece (sometimes several) from it. I also now have eight years worth of flash fiction on my blog, The Fiction Phial, and a project for this year is to pull out my favourites and put together a collection. 

Thinking about all the stories/work you’ve done, what sticks out most in your mind? Why?

In terms of writing, it’s probably the story Never Enough Pockets (included in PseudoPod episode 798). It’s one of my darkest, most brutal pieces. I also host episodes quite regularly, and for that I’d point to 859: We, the Ones Who Raised Sam Gowers from the Dead.    

Where and when do you create/are you at your most creative?

I’m a bit of a night owl and usually find I get into a flow at about 11pm at night. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work very well with two young children! So I work things in here and there, when they’re at school (and I’m not working), or in the evenings. I have to carve out my spaces. I like to light a couple of candles when I’m working – there’s something very soothing about a flame.

(Pictured: Kat’s candles, aflame)

What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?

One thing that I’ve seen several writers say in one way or another is that if you get stuck, write something. Anything. If I get stuck, I’ll change font colour and start just writing notes or bullet points, like, “then this happens, and that happens, I need more on the other here, and then the ending will be like this…” Verbal doodling. The whole lot usually gets deleted, but it’s often surprisingly useful. The other good piece of advice is to tell the truth. Yes, invent all the bits about monsters and magic and so on, but make the themes under all that as true as you possibly can. Using lots of lies to tell the truth – that’s the key to a good story.     

What’s your writing soundtrack?

Any kind of electronic dance/chill out type music. Things with a strong, fairly up-tempo beat, quirky sounds and not too many lyrics. I especially like Bob Moses, Forester, Rüfüs du Sol (pictured, photo by Eliot Lee Hazel), Fthmlss and Zimmer. 

The quickfire round

Sci-fi, fantasy or horror?
Horror.

Quiet or loud?
Quiet.

Dark or light?
Dark.

Strict lines or genre blend?
Blend.

Awards or bestseller?
Bestseller.

Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction (but this one’s close!)

Poetry or prose?
Prose.

Plotter or pantser?
Both! 

Reading or listening?
Both!

Notebook or computer?
Both! (But more computer)

Favourite SFFH book of all time?
Equal Rites, by Terry Pratchett

Last book you read?
A Marvellous Light, by Freya Marske

Any SFFH author on auto-buy?
Not really these days

Favourite podcast?
PseudoPod! And The Archers – I can’t miss The Archers!

The home stretch

What’s the best thing about being a SFFH writer/editor?

As an editor, helping people to get their stories out there. As a writer, it’s the act of creation, of having made something.

Time to plug your stuff! Where can we find you and your work? What have you got coming up? Consider this your advertising space.

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