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 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. 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. Her most recent book, WEIRDO, a tale of teenage trauma and female transgression set on the Norfolk coast was shortlisted for the EDP-Jarrolds East Anglian Book of the Year, longlisted for the New Angles prize and named Book of the Year 2012 by Loud and Quiet Magazine and crimesquad.com
As well as working on her books has appeared on TV and radio including reviewing for BBC2's The Culture Show. She regularly takes part in live events, including screen talks at The Barbican in London and spoken word gigs organised by Tight Lip and The Sohemian Society. She has also presented her work as live readings with music and audio accompaniment.
All her books are published by and available from Serpent's Tail.
Photo: Allison McGourty 2009
NOW AVAILABLE – WEIRDO!
In 1984, 15-year-old Norfolk schoolgirl Corrine Woodrow was sentenced indefinitely for the ritualistic murder of a schoolfriend. With rumours of Satanism surrounding her, Corrine became a notorious hate figure. But 20 years later, re-examination of the forensic evidence suggests that the 'Wicked Witch of the East' didn't commit her crime alone.
Pensioned out of the Met after an altercation with a teenage gunman, Sean Ward finds himself investigating another juvenile delinquent when he agrees to take on Corrine's case for the QC determined to get her a re-trial. Travelling to the coastal resort where the crime unfolded, outsider Sean enters a world which has always known how to look after its own…
BUY YOUR COPY OF WEIRDO HERE
(International editions are now also available via the Books page HERE)
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING ABOUT WEIRDO
BOOK OF THE YEAR
'As good as British noir fiction currently gets,' says Janine and Lee Bullman in LOUD AND QUIET
BOOK OF THE YEAR
'If you buy only one book this year, make it Weirdo,' says CHRIS SIMMONS on CRIMESQUAD.COM
'She has brilliantly and vividly captured the desperate sense of teenage boredom, isolation, danger and mayhem… an unusually gifted writer of heartfelt noir' ***** says HENRY SUTTON in THE MIRROR
'An outstanding addition to the British crime-writing scene… Unsworth's ability to render the period so vividly makes for an immersive reading experience, and there can scarcely be a better writer of this sort of stuff in the land... the psychology of that hormone-hammered adolescence that girls go through can rarely have been so well evoked,' says DOUG JOHNSTONE in THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
'An absorbing mystery, an extraordinarily powerful evocation of time and place and a cast of characters whose every breath feels real – Unsworth gets better with every book,' says LAURA WILSON in THE GUARDIAN
'To her brilliant evocation of time and place, Unsworth adds astonishing and disturbing insight into the minds of disaffected youth who cannot find love and acceptance. Terrific,' says MARCEL BERLINS in THE TIMES
'Unsworth’s plotting is superb but it is her ability to convey a sense of time and place that stands out, and she writes wonderfully about music, too,' **** says JAKE KERRIDGE in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
'A writer of rare talent… Demonstrating once again a fine sense of place and period, Unsworth creates a gripping tale of adolescent angst and genuine evil,' says JULIA HANDFORD in THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
'Excellent fourth novel from the queen of British punk noir about febrile youth culture,' says TINA JACKSON in METRO
'Unsworth's best yet, as sharp as vinegar on chips,' says CHRISTOPHER FOWLER in THE FINANCIAL TIMES
'Unsworth's new novel is a sad, elegiac look at youth, innocence and the things we do to sunder us from our communities. A superb read,' says THE CATHOLIC HERALD
'Hers is a savage indictment of the depravity of all power and self-interest unrestrained by considerations of morality of empathy… an author in full control of her form,' says MARK BOND-WEBSTER in THE EASTERN DAILY PRESS
'Unsworth excels at writing about teenage life… Weirdo is more rounded and atmospheric than many crime novels, weaving magic and music through a small town,' says EMERALD STREET
'Unsworth’s real strength is in her depiction of the teenage mindset and how the insularity of small communities can lead to emotional and physical extremes. Complex, compelling and wonderfully evoked, this is a fine slice of rural British noir,' says DOUG JOHNSTONE in THE LIST
'Its density and atmosphere will make most other contemporary crime fiction seem etiolated fare,' says BARRY FORSHAW in CRIMETIME
Cathi in London Fictions on
Lynne Reid Banks' The L-Shaped Room
18 April 2013.
Cathi chose The L-Shaped Room, discovered while researching her 2010 novel Bad Penny Blues. The book, and Bryan Forbes subsequent movie adaptation, vividly evoke the lost bedsitter land of West London in post-War, pre-swinging London.
From Child of the Jago to Brick Lane, London has always inspired novelists, seeking to present a sense of the city, whether real or imagined. Here, writers and historians take you through some of the captivating novels, past and present which depict London from East End boys to West End girls, bed-sit land to docklands, immigrants to emigrants, encompassing all of the diversity of human life.
The full list of contributors are:
Andrew Whitehead on George Gissing's The Nether World
Andrew Lane on Athur Conan Doyle's The Sign of FourNadia Valman on Israel Zangwill's Children of the Ghetto
Angela V. John on Henry W. Nevinson's Neighbours of Ours
Sarah Wise on Arthur Morrison's A Child of the Jago
Anne Witchard on Thomas Burke's Limehouse Nights
Heather Reyes on Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway
Zoë Fairbairns on Pamela Hansford Johnson's This Bed Thy Centre
Rachel Lichtenstein on Simon Blumenfeld's Jew Boy
John King on John Sommerfield's May Day
John Lucas on Patrick Hamilston's Hangover Square
Susan Alice Fischer on Betty Miller's Farewell Leicester Square
Jane Miller on Elizabeth Bowen's The Heat of the Day
Andy Croft on Jack Lindsay's Rising Tide
Bill Schwarz on Sam Selvon's The Lonely Londoners
Jerry White on Colin MacInnes's Absolute Beginners
Cathi Unsworth on Lynne Reid Banks's The L-Shaped Room
Ken Worpole on Alexander Baron's The Lowlife
Susie Thomas on Hanif Kureishi's The Buddha of Suburbia
Gregory Woods on Neil Bartlett's Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall
Lisa Gee on Zadie Smith's White Teeth
Valentine Cunningham on Chris Petit's The Hard Shoulder
Courttia Newland on Iain Banks's Dead Air
Sanchita Islam on Monica Ali's Brick Lane
Jon Day on John Lanchester's Capital
Philippa Thomas on Zadie Smith's NW
For more information, please go HERE
To order from Amazon, please go HERE
London Fictions at LRB Bookshop
Tuesday 4 June, 7pm
Cathi, Rachel Lichtenstein and Lisa Gee
14 Bury Place
London WC1A 2JL
020 7269 9030
£7 entry To preorder tickets, please go HERE
In London Fictions (Five Leaves) two dozen contemporary writers reflect on some of the novels and novelists that have defined our sense of the city’s past, present and future. Three of the volume’s contributors will be at the shop to discuss their chosen writers, and London in literature more generally, with Andrew Whitehead, the book’s co-editor. The historian Rachel Lichtenstein (Rodinsky’s Room. On Brick Lane and Diamond Street) has chosen Simon Blumenfeld’s 1935 novel Jew Boy; novelist Cathi Unsworth (Weirdo, Bad Penny Blues and The Singer) will talk about Lynn Reid Banks’s The L-Shaped Room from 1960; and the critic and memoirist Lisa Gee brings the selection up to date with Zadie Smith’s White Teeth from 2000.
Cathi in London Noir at
Stoke Newington Literary Festival
Saturday 8 June, 7pm
With Max Décharné, Stav Sherez,
Mark Billingham and Russ Litten
To preorder tickets, please go HERE
Skulk beside the murky waters of the Thames, or steal through maze-like backstreets of the East End as this event explores London as an archaic crime-fiction capital. The city that once housed Jack the Ripper and the Kray twins makes the perfect gritty setting for the archetypal thriller. A conversation with the finest modern noir writers, Mark Billingham, Stav Sherez, Cathi Unsworth and Russ Litten will take us through the criminal possibilities of London, from Hackney to Hyde Park. Hosted by Max Décharné.
Weirdo Website Exclusive
Ahead of the publication of Weirdo Cathi Unsworth is proud to present four exclusive tracks for download entitled Captain Swing.
In Cathi Unsworth's latest novel Weirdo investigator Sean Ward travels down to the seaside resort of Ernemouth in Norfolk, he enters a landscape haunted by witchcraft, civil war and social upheaval.
The track Captain Swing Part One was originally intended as the first of four Prologues for each of the quarters of Weirdo. It has now morphed into a collaboration between Cathi and the composer and musician Paul A Murphy, who has vividly brought alive this haunted landscape with an eerie musical score fashioned by his Orchaostra, featuring Michael Meekin on acoustic Flying V and the stunning vocal talents of Rosie Howell.
The piece has been beautifully set into its sonic surrounds by producer Pete Woodhead, Cathi’s seasoned collaborator responsible for the previous Transmissions from Bad Penny Blues. The accompanying, evocative visuals have been hand crafted by the multi-talented artist Sal Pittman, also of the Parish of Ernemouth/Yarmouth.
The continuing story will appear in four parts during the run-up to Weirdo’s publication on 12 July. Look upon them as either sonic Prologues to the book, or a separate Symphony from the Unquiet County, whichever you prefer. You will also find forthcoming, a rousing anthem to Captain Swing, composed and performed by Mr Murphy and produced by Mr Woodhead.
We hope you will enjoy them.
Find out more about Captain Swing and download high quality versions HERE
Listen to Captain Swing Part One using the player below
Cathi Unsworth on Facebook
You can LIKE the page here
Photograph by Fen Oswin
Fiction Uncovered FM podcast now available
Bad Penny Blues
Set against the background of 1960's London Bad Penny Blues explores the murky world of the unsolved ‘Jack the Stripper’ murders of the 1960s in which the bodies of eight working girls were found in or along the Thames.
The killings sparked the biggest manhunt in Metropolitan Police history, but the killer was never found. In Bad Penny Blues Cathi aims not to solve the mystery, but rather, as she puts it, to “create a parallel universe in which an explanation can be offered that ties together a series of intriguing coincidences uncovered during the course of my research.”
Bad Penny Blues is so fully a thing in itself, slowly developing its own rules, playing them, teaching them to the reader, breaking them, then enforcing them even more strongly, until, with the book over, the world does not look quite as settled as it did before the book started – Greil Marcus
Bad Penny Blues is the English Black Dahlia and will establish Cathi Unsworth as the First Lady of Noir Fiction - David Peace
BUY BAD PENNY BLUES HERE
Tapeworm release: Cathi & Pete Woodhead present Johnny Remember Me
The story spun out of research for Bad Penny Blues, in particular the life and times of Joe Meek and the Number One hit single Johnny Remember Me that he created for television star John Leyton. A song that is so evocative of ghosts and curses that it lent itself perfectly to the creation of a little urban myth.
With fabulosa original sleeve art by the legendary Sav X, Johnny Remember Me is a limited edition release of 250, priced at £3.50 plus £2 P&P. Full details from the Tapeworm website, linked below.
For more information on the story, please go HERE
To buy the cassette, please go HERE
Cathi Unsworth Reading - 2009 (Photo: Nick Tucker)