Sixth review for the Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Book

Katherine has read, I think, everything I have written and is always generous with her time, giving very useful feedback and writing reviews for me on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. I still use her early reviews for ‘Alfi Beasti, don’t eat that!’ and the ‘Going Out in the Midday Sun’ trilogy, and in fact for most of my books as she has a knack of, without waffle, creatively encapsulating the elements of the writing.

 

“If you found a book that contained your entire life from beginning to end, would you read it?”

Such is the dilemma, one of many often posed on the internet, which is faced by the protagonist in ”The Hundred and Fifty – Eighth Book”.
 
Hamish, a Bloomsbury bookseller, stumbles upon the red leather bound volume during a quiet morning at his shop. On opening the first chapter it seems that the narrative bears an uncanny resemblance to recent events in his life.  From this mysterious beginning, the reader is propelled into a fast paced and curious romp through 1980’s London, where it soon becomes clear that there may indeed be more than one version of this book.
 
Hamish’s adventures are deeply rooted in the era and place.  The sights, sounds and smells of 1980’s London are beautifully evoked by an author who clearly knows her patch and the setting is further enhanced by her own atmospheric drawings. Ms Hardy has a strong eye for detail, for the small everyday things that are easily overlooked but are very evocative of a time or place.
 
The characters are so affectionately depicted that one feels they must be at least partly based on real people of Ms Hardy’s acquaintance! I particularly liked Hamish’s mother and Evan, the Yorkshire chapters in which they feature forming a poignant contrast to the rest of the narrative.
 
This is a cleverly woven and most enjoyable tale. “To whoever picks this up” hang on to your hat!  You are in for a colourful and intriguing ride!
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Introduction to Kate A. Hardy

Hello.

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A small biography:

At various times Kate has been a bookshop assistant, DJ, estate agent blurb writer, Mars- Bar factory worker, gardener, sous-chef, barmaid, architectural impressions maker, chip shop worker, and photographic stylist. The latter requires a sub category of just about anything imaginable: detective, taxi driver, model maker, inventor, bullshitter, diplomat, location finder, robber, dog trainer and actor.

She now spends as much time as possible writing.

Work to date:

Mister Mint and the Monster – self published in crayon and pencil in a lined exercise book around 1968

Big gap

‘Alfi Beasti, Don’t Eat That!’ written and illustrated by Kate. Published by Puffin books, 2004

Trilogy of novels: Going Out in the Midday Sun, Staying Out of the Midday Sun and The Mad Dog Café. Started in 2010, finished 1015. Now out on Amazon in paperback and as e-readers

The Hundred and Fifty-Eighth book, The Couch, Rose. Short stories taken for publication by ‘Cracked Eye’ 2015

The Hundred and fifty-eighth book made into an audio-story, read by Anton Lesser

Collection of short stories – Dog, and other tales, completed and will be available as a hardback soon.

Current work:

Series of Novels set in 2090, in ‘Londonia’ Might be classed as Dystopia, but I would like to create a new genre – Dyst-hopia: post-apocalyptic but not utterly doom-laden.

First Book, Hoxton has been completed and is currently being considered by an agency. Second book, Smithi has been finished to editing stage. Another two books are at planning stage.

Sketch from Hoxton

Hoxton cover copy

A couple of comments from readers of Hoxton.

How lovely – how clever! From the quirky title onwards the reader is in for an edgy, spookily realistic adventure set in a dystopian London of the future.
Despite there being many versions of possible future worlds, your vision ranks as one of the best I have come across. It really holds together well, in all its gruesomeness.
You write extremely competently and nothing disrupted the pace and my enjoyable read. You have a solid style, an imaginative turn of phrase and a quietly irreverent sense of humour.
The imagery you conjure is brilliant – rather Joanne Harris in places – and we all admire her writing, I think – and then again a little Cloud Atlas in the use of the altered language in David Mitchell’s dystopian world. But in and of itself, it is very individual, very Kate Hardy!
 
 
Liked this very much indeed. It’s very hard to put a new slant on dystopia and at the same time not stretching credibility too much. Excellent work.
I like the originality, the new vocabulary, the general thrust of the plot, the realism, the stuff about IKEA and Thirty Shades.
This is really something else. No surprise to see that you’re a published author. If your agent doesn’t get you a TV or film deal for this . . . get a new agent!

Day jobs

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As a child and a million years before Youtube and the internet, I spent most of my time inventing stories and illustrating them. My first full length (exercise book) tale was called Mr Mint and the monster — I found it a few months back while cleaning mum’s house out, the pages soft with layers of coloured pencil and rubbings out.

My next epic story writing was at Art College where I studied photography and film. Rather than writing a thesis on an aspect of photography or semiotics, I requested that I write a series of short stories: which I did and luckily the examiners seemed to like. Sadly for me I have lost the black bound book containing the hundreds of pages that I painstakingly typed in front of a mobile gas heater in our hideous freezing student house.

Next big stage in writing/illustration for me was a children’s book. When we had arrived at the ‘fussy eating’ stage of our child’s life, I felt compelled to share the frustration with everyone else and started on an idea involving ‘The Beastis’, dog-like characters that had first appeared on our home-made jam labels. After a zillion rejection letters and many style changes, I was lucky enough to find an agent, (hello Celia, if you read this) and the book was published by Puffin in 2004. I then wrote many many stories, mainly for our son, involving the Beastis, but wandered off into the realms of landscape painting when we moved to France.

So day jobs . . . yes. Why did I do all those different things? Necessity certainly, but all those jobs have proved useful, however boring they were at the time. Useful for writing for sure.

I was just thinking earlier about writing them all down. So I think I will.

First job ever: working at Mrs Batchelors corner shop for fifty pence a morning.

Following on, series of babysitting jobs, car washing, dog walking, paper round, looking after a baby for a whole summer (that was terrifying).

Later: Bar maid in four different pubs, waitress, kitchen assistant, assistant in old peoples home, bookshop staff person, Boots staff person, Mars bar factory worker, gardener, cleaner, painter and decorator, brief flirt with car bodywork, after school childcare.

At College: Fish and chip shop staff person, bar maid, waitress, cook, ceramic rooms cleaner, DJ.

After college: Photographic assistant then apprentice to a room-set stylist. Estate agent blurb writer, magazine article writer/photographer, architect impressions maker.Then full time stylist and china hire-shop partner. Styling needs a sub category of just about anything you could think of: Detective, taxi driver, model maker, painter, cook, dog trainer, school teacher, robber, inventor, bullshitter, diplomat, location finder, actor, director, etc etc. One day is never the same as another.

I tried to escape this mad world by taking a sideways jump into textile design, painted furniture, jewellery making, illustration and back to writing. Finally stopped styling by moving countries.

Now we ‘get by’ by doing anything that comes along while working on our own real projects, in my case, writing and painting. Et voila. Sorry about the list, I just had to do that. But if you do read the books later, you’ll see where the jobs slot in.