Apr 18, 2015

Welsh Week: An interview with Kat Ellis

1) Could you tell my readers a bit more about yourself?

Hi! I’m a writer from North Wales who geeks out about pretty much anything weird and wondrous: dragons, Star Trek, cemeteries, sherbet fountains… you name it. I’m lucky that I grew up in a place where the local myths and legends are both crazy and plentiful, and that has probably helped shape my writer-brain. I have one book out at the moment – Blackfin Sky, which is a YA thriller; I also have 2 books coming out in 2016 – a YA suspense called Breaker, and a YA sci-fi called Purge.

When I’m not writing, I’m usually cooking, taking photographs in the wilderness, or watching scary films with my husband.

2) I would love to know more about the setting of your book, about Blackfin. (Am I correct that it's a fictional town?) Is it based on a real place?

Blackfin is such an odd town that it could exist anywhere and nowhere. There are definitely elements that I’ve nicked from my local area, like the creepy cemetery, the travelling circus, and the pier, but Blackfin itself is too strange a place to be real!

3) Are there any Welsh influences in your book?

Magical realism plays a big part in Welsh folklore, where you’ll find real historical figures walking alongside giants and women who turn into crows. I’d say those stories have definitely influenced the tone and style of my writing, especially in Blackfin Sky.

4) What made you decide to write about something 'supernatural'? And if you could have any kind of power what would you choose?

I didn’t initially set out to write any of the fantasy elements – it was going to be a contemporary thriller about a girl who was mistakenly thought to have died, and there would have been a totally plausible explanation for what happened to her. But that didn’t quite go according to plan… and then Blackfin happened.

As for a superpower, I’d love to have the ability to go without sleep for weeks at a time. I’d get so much more done! I might even exercise… [Insert manic laughter here]

5) Did you always want to be an author and what has inspired you to start writing?

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I decided I wanted to become an author, and even then it was just a whim to sit down and give it a shot. I have always loved reading, though, and get caught up in stories all the time, so I suspect the urge was always lurking in me somewhere!

6) Do you think where people are from defines who they are? Blackfin is a typical place, so it made me wonder if the people from Blackfin are like that because they're from Blackfin or if they live there because they can be themselves and they're living there because of it?

Places definitely have an influence on the people raised there, though I believe individual personality wins out over outside influences in the end. The people who live in Blackfin have ended up there for various reasons, but I think you’re right that they’ve been drawn there – Blackfin is the perfect place for anyone who’s a little bit weird to live.

7) In Blackfin Sky nothing is as it seems and I love the way you built the world. Is it difficult to come up with something fictional that could be based in reality?

Thank you J It can be tricky figuring out exactly how far I can push a reader’s belief in a world I’ve created, but it’s fun to see how much I can get away with.

8) Why the Circus, does it mean something special to you? (To me it does, maybe I'm reading something into it because of that, but I had to ask)

I go to the circus every year with my sister and niece, and it has become a family tradition. I was at a point in writing Blackfin Sky where I’d gotten stuck on a particular plot point when the circus came to town for the summer, and it was while I was sitting in the stands at the circus that I had a ‘eureka!’ moment, and the rest all fell into place.

I’m very curious to know what the circus means to you, though!*

9) Do you like your own home town and what's it like? Blackfin has an identity so strong that it almost becomes a main character, is there a special reason for that?

My home town has its own unique charm… It’s sandwiched between the North Wales coast and countryside, and a lot of people have settled here from outside the area over the years, which I suppose is quite like Blackfin! I think a strong sense of place is important to any story, whether it’s happening in a futuristic floating community (like in Purge!) or in a boarding school in Pennsylvania (as in Breaker) – it helps a reader to visualise and become absorbed in the lives of the characters and what is happening to them.

10) Do you have any advice for other international authors who would like to make it internationally?

Hmm… this isn’t advice, exactly, but I try to make my stories weird but accessible at the same time. I hope this helps my books appeal to international readers, even if the places I write about are unfamiliar.

Thank you for inviting me onto your site for Welsh Week!

Kat Ellis is a young adult writer from North Wales. Her debut novel, BLACKFIN SKY, is out now. Her next novel, BREAKER, will be released Spring 2016 (Running Press Teen), followed by PURGE in Autumn 2016 (Firefly Press).

You can find my review of the book and a giveaway here.


* Suzanne's answer: My grandfather always wanted to be part of a circus. It was his biggest dream to be an acrobat. He could walk down the stairs on his hands. He never followed his dream, but he always talked about it. He once took me to see a famous Russian show. It was the goodbye tour of the clown Popov. Popov gave me a rose and that made my grandfather very happy, it was a special moment. It's such a pity I didn't inherit my grandfather's skills and even though I'm too clumsy to be part of a circus myself my grandfather has passed on his love for the magic of the circus.


  1. Love this interview. The book sounds great x

    1. You would love this book and I think in a year or so Sian will too :).


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