Cathi Unsworth is a novelist, writer and editor who lives and works in London. She began her career on the legendary music weekly Sounds at the age of 19 and has worked as a writer and editor for many other music, film and arts magazines since, including The Guardian, Financial Times, Fortean Times, Bizarre, Melody Maker, Mojo, Uncut, Volume and Deadline.
Her first novel THE NOT KNOWING was published in 2005, followed the next year with the award-winning short story compendium LONDON NOIR, which she edited, and in 2007 with the punk noir novel THE SINGER – recently named in The I's list of 25 classic but lesser known crime novels to read during lockdown.
Her third novel, BAD PENNY BLUES, inspired by the unsolved 'Jack the Stripper' murders of 1959-65 was published in 2010 to great critical acclaim. This novel was also nominated a top Lockdown read by BBC Radio London's Robert Elms show in the summer of 2020. A new edition of this work, with an Introduction from Greil Marcus and an Afterword by Cathi will be avilable shortly from Strange Attractor Press.
Her 2012 book WEIRDO, a tale of teenage trauma and female transgression set on the Norfolk coast was translated into seven languages, shortlisted for the 2013 EDP-Jarrolds East Anglian Book of the Year and longlisted for the 2014 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2014 Grand Prix de Littérature Policiére, 2013 Gordon Burn Prize and the 2013 New Angle Prize for Literature. WEIRDO was further picked as one of the Top Ten Crime Novels of the Last Decade by The Times this summer.
Two novels set in WWII followed: WITHOUT THE MOON, based on two true crimes that occurred during the dark days of February 1942, was also longlisted for the 2016 Gordon Burn Prize and made The Times' Crime Book of the Month on publication. THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC, inspired by the Hagley Woods Bella mystery and the trial of Helen Duncan for witchcraft and set between 1941-45 won the 2019 Academy of British Cover Design award for Crime/Thriller for its front cover by Pete Dyer and Leo Nickolls. Both these titles recieved sterling treatment in their audio editions with narration from acclaimed actor Jon Glover.
In 2018 Cathi was approached by punk icon Jordan Mooney to collaborate on a book of her memoirs, DEFYING GRAVITY, which was published to great critical acclaim by Omnibus Press in May 2019. Many adventures followed that are recorded on our special Defying Gravity page. Sadly Jordan passed away on 3 April 2022.
Following on from the time of punk and with Cathi's lifelong obsession with the Gothic, she published SEASON OF THE WITCH: THE BOOK OF GOTH in May 2023 on Nine Eight Books. This is the history of Goth music during the reign of Margaret Thatcher between 1979-90 that also comes with a history of Gothmothers and Gothfathers whose influence stretches back to William Blake, the Romantics, the Deacadents and Dadaists.
As well as working on her books Cathi has appeared on TV and radio including reviewing for BBC2's The Culture Show. She regularly takes part in live events, has given screen talks at The Barbican Centre in London and organised walks, talks and spoken word gigs for The Zabludowicz Collection, The Bishopsgate Institute, The London Adventure and The Sohemian Society. She is currently teaching novel writing for Curtis Brown Creative's online platform.
Photo by Etienne Gilfillan