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Born in Cumbria, Katie Hale is a poet, freelance journalist and educator. She took part in Penguin Random House's inaugural WriteNow scheme in 2018, has held Emerging Writer in Residence posts at Theatre by the Lake and Creative Futures Cumbria, and is currently working on an oral story-sharing project with the National Trust. Her debut poetry pamphlet, Breaking the Surface, was published by Flipped Eye in 2017. Her poetry has been awarded the Jane Martin and Ware Poetry Prizes, and has been shortlisted for the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize. My Name Is Monster is her first novel. @halekatie | halekatie.com
Oh… my… word, this is one fabulous debut! I found a deceptively simple, and stark dystopian foray into a world blighted by bombs and sickness. Monster is completely alone until one day she finds a child. She becomes mother and passes on her knowledge, but are her mothering skills being received in the way she is expecting them to be? Told in the first person, Katie Hale has created short chapters where thoughts scatter, bounce, zigzag. I filed away feelings and emotions as I read, each within touching distance, lying in wait to prod and provoke. This feels honest, as though looking at a future just within grasp, or back to a history that has already happened. The feelings are raw, sometimes painful, yet relatable and believable. I found the premise of this novel absolutely fascinating, I explored interpretation of meaning, motherhood, and thoughts on the basic cycle of life. ‘My Name is Monster’ is poignant, moving and wonderfully different, it is also incredibly intimate, readable and surprisingly beautiful, I adored it.
The poems in Katie Hale's Breaking the Surface are populated with totems of our wild, essential truths- from the raven bearing witness to death, to the wolf's dark appetite. Hale interrogates desire in its different forms and unpicks the seams of myths, folktales and fairy stories, offering them up with new life. A self-assured debut.