For Readers, Writing Advice

I’m Fine. I’m Fine! Oh wait…

How coronavirus unpicked the stitching in the story of mental health I’d created for myself.

I see myself as a steady platform for others to climb aboard when they’re having a tough time. Call me. Come and stay. Let me do that. Pile it on, I can cope!

I’m the person who steps in when other people are struggling. I’m the fixer when people have problems. I’m a shoulder. A volunteer. A do-er. A coper.

I’ve been stupidly smug about how well I cope with life. I work hard, I manage all sorts – working two to three jobs, running my own business, volunteering, caring for my children, caring for elderly parents, competing in international fencing competitions, hanging out with pals, maybe not being the best friend but being a friend to a lot of people.

I cope. I cope.


I have strong, stable, mental health. Others have issues but not me. I am fine.


I told myself. Over and over. Until I believed it. The way I quite literally couldn’t eat for years after my mother died? Like the doctor said when he saw my skinny six year old self – just one of the lucky ones who never puts on weight. I’m fine. The sexual assault I experienced as a fourteen year old that stopped me sleeping for weeks? Just too many scary books before bed. I’m fine. The physical and mental mess I was in after I had my first child? Everyone has a difficult birth story, we both survived didn’t we? I’m fine.

I put time between me and the worst parts of my life and buried them under a thick blanket of being busy. All the ‘busy’ left no time for me to be on my own with my sadness and fear. Being busy made me useful, it made me feel needed. It made me feel I was earning my place in the world. Like I deserved to occupy space.

And then overnight, Corona Virus stripped away of all the things I did to hold onto my self constructed blanket of ‘fineness.’ I was left, cold and exposed and almost immediately, not fine at all.

Covid Lockdown took away the best parts of my job – visiting schools and meeting young people. It took away my beloved sport and the training I’d worked so hard on to over come the broken bits of my body. It took away my creativity – I couldn’t write.

I was terrified my parents would starve or get covid and die alone. I couldn’t visit my dying father-in-law who I’d been the primary carer to for years. And when he died, I couldn’t give him the funeral he wanted. I couldn’t see my grown up children; they are my world and I lived in fear of them getting sick without me to care for them. I felt guilty about feeling sad because I have a lovely house, a lovely garden and a lovely dog, and a husband I actually like who was still able to work and earn money..

I knew I was lucky. I knew people had it worse than me. But I still cried silent sheets of tears as I walked my wonderful dog in the beautiful countryside right outside my back door.

I did everything I could to stave of depression. I spoke to my family everyday. I built things and painted things. I joined Tiktok. I zoomed with friends and ran online workshops and started Our Corona Diary. I tried to train. I ran and danced. And I sank. And sank. And sank.

George Floyd was murdered.

Sarah Everard was murdered.

Two people I didn’t know but whose deaths illustrated the cruel disparity of privilege in our world so acutely, it hurt. It really, really hurt.

I was crushed.

I was broken.

I was not coping and I definitely was not fine.

Even my hair deserted me

And as we opened up again, I thought I would magically recover myself. Lol. My first night back at fencing club, I left early and sat in the car and cried. I haven’t been back. I can’t quite explain why. It was partly that I couldn’t face the physical pain of dragging my body back to that level of fitness. Partly that I couldn’t face the increased anxiety that comes with competition. Partly, I don’t even know what.

I wasn’t the same. Something had changed. I was forced to re-assess my life and acknowledge that I needed space to sort out my own mental health. I asked my agent to hold my hand as I started writing again. She did and I have, and it’s going quite well. I walk my dog. I spend time with my family and friends. I’m working on some small, achievable volunteer projects that I’m passionate about – I can’t change the world but I can help a tiny bit of it get a leg up.

I’m getting there.

Recovery is fragile Things I have little control over can tip me into anxious depression – the cruelty we see in the world sometimes, the thoughtlessness. I panic and respond with my heart not my head. I cry a lot. But I don’t feel helpless anymore.

Yes. I’m getting there.

I’ve started to speak to people about how bad it was and the funny thing is, few people noticed apart from the ones who I was speaking to everyday. My children. My husband. My fencing coach. A handful of friends. To the outside world, I still looked like I was coping. Even when I said I wasn’t. And that’s why I’m writing this now.

If someone tells you they’re really busy, so they can’t do x, y or z, listen carefully: they might be telling you they aren’t coping and that one more thing is just too much. They might just need to catch their breath from all the trying. They might just need a little space to remember who they are.

I’ve lost count of the number of times people have told me :

You should learn to say no.

But it always seems to come with a side order of:

As long as you don’t say no to me.

Be the person they can say no to without fear of causing upset.

And if you are not coping – the world won’t fall apart if you say no. Seriously, it won’t. You don’t have to do it all to deserve a space in the world.

You are enough.

And it’s okay to not be okay.

Kathryn Evans is a UKYA author. She writes contemporary fiction with a Black Mirror style sci-fi twist.

More of Me was nominated for the 2016 Carnegie medal and won of the EIBF First Book Award and the SCBWI Crystal Kite.

 Beauty Sleep won the 2020 Crimefest Award and was shortlisted for the Steam Book Prize.

Writing Advice

Got a question?

Hello! I often get sent messages asking me really great writing questions. I love hearing from readers but I also love internet safety – unless we’ve met in real life, we can’t be sure we’re really talking to who we think we’re talking to so, to keep everybody safe in this crazy world, you can pop a question below in the comments, once I’ve approved it, I’ll reply.

Here’s one to start:

Is it hard for you to come up with story ideas or do they come naturally? Because there are some authors that have ideas straight away but there are others where it takes them a while to figure out a story. Caitlin B

I have what’s lovingly called ‘ an over active imagination’. I’m a real day dreamer so I see story ideas EVERYWHERE. And I mean everywhere. I can see an ant carrying a heavy bit of leaf and think…hmmm, I bet some evil overlord ant is making that one work as a slave, and he’s probably plotting an escape with his best friend who'[s actually a non-binary ant with there own issues and doesn’t really want… YOU GET THE IDEA.

But ideas, aren’t story. Story takes a bit of crafting – I do a popular workshop about ‘Ideas, Plot & Structure because the three things need each other to make a really great story.

Writing Advice

Online Summer Creative Writing Workshops with Kathryn Evans


I’m an award winning author of books for teens, part of the BBC teach series for English and an experienced workshop tutor. This summer I’ve taken my workshops online so if you have a budding writer in your family, why not sign them up for the first one? Ideas, Plot & Structure. There are 2 age groups 9-11 and 12 to 16. Places are limited and it’s only £12 for 90 minutes of inspiring, fun and informative teaching!

Book Here!

DBS checked. Free, confidential places for disadvantaged children.

Writing Advice

Beauty Sleep Wins Crime Fest Award

I’m a tiny bit proud of this one… washed my hair and everything.

Writing Advice

Kathryn Evans Goes Online

Covid-19 has stopped me from doing something I love. I can’t visit schools, I can’t be part of festivals, I can’t share my love of books and writing anywhere where I might be part of spreading the virus.

While I desperately miss getting out and about and meeting readers in person, I am now offering author visits through Kathryn Evans Online.

It’s a new service, I can’t promise there won’t be teething troubles, but it’s competitively priced and designed to flex with challenging timetables!

From video hire, to live workshops and Q & A’s , I hope I have something to offer that will enable young people to continue to have an enriched learning experience with as little trouble and expense to the organisers as possible.

Let me know what you think, point out the glitches, share your ideas!


For Readers, Writing Advice

What do you mean, “I’m Privileged?”

UPDATED August 2021 because I’m still learning and still trying to do better.

A few years ago, my daughter told me I wasn’t a modern feminist because I didn’t include everyone in my version of feminism.  I thought she was wrong. I was insulted.  I said something along the lines of, ‘What are you saying? I’m nice, I don’t care what people’s colour or sexuality  is, I just see people as people.’

‘If you  don’t see  colour or sexuality,” she said, “you also don’t see how much harder life is for some people and you’re ignoring all your  advantages  and that isn’t fair.’

When I stopped sulking, I started to think. And then I started to ask questions.  I realised that  if I wanted to be a fully rounded, inclusive, and emotionally literate human, a human I had a duty to be as a children’s author, I had a lot to learn.

I’m not alone in finding this stuff difficult.  A lot of  people find the concept of inclusivity, intersectionality and affirmative action hard to get their heads round.  I’m a white, cis woman who, from a difficult-ish start, has done okay for herself. I used to think,

‘Yay! Go me, look what I did!’

But my daughter was right. I didn’t recognise  how much help I’d had on the way. I didn’t  think about it, because I didn’t  even see it.

How could I, a working class woman who has been sexually assaulted on a number of  occasions,  been the subject of sexism in a male dominated work environment over and over again, whose mum died before my third birthday and who went to a terrible school whose highest aspiration for it’s girl students was to be aa secretary, how could I  possibly be considered privileged?

Because I’m white, I’m cis-gendered and able bodied, I went to university when it was still free, I’m smart and while I consider myself pan-sexual, I’m in a stable heterosexual marriage.

Let me explain:

Imagine life is  a huge bumper car rally.

The day you are born, the race marshal assigns you a vehicle from an arbitrary list of criteria.

If you are  white, rich, male, non-disabled, straight and cis gendered you are given a fully armed tank. You get spinning tyre cutters  and smoke bombs to confuse other racers – you name it, you have it. We are talking top of the range bumper car tankness. Pretty much everyone  in the race is going to get out of your way  without you even trying. You probably won’t even have to deploy any of your fancy on board arms , because others know they are there, and that’s enough to keep them at bay. Most people will be nice to you, because maybe they’ll get a ride in the tank and in this rally, the tank is the safest place to be and let’s face it,  the most likely to finish the course.

Maybe you don’t quite fit all those criteria – you’re still white and rich but you’re female – you still get to drive a tank but it’s not fully armed and it’s not quite so big. Most people are going to get out of your way – everyone in fact, except Big Tank Guy.   Your tank is  still a pretty good place to be. and sometimes, Big Tank Guy lets you be in his tank.

Not everyone gets a tank.  Every time the race marshal sees something that’s a little bit different about you – maybe you’re poor  or a person of colour, maybe you have a disability , hidden or otherwise, maybe you’re gay or trans or non-cis gendered.  Maybe you’re one or all of those things – well, that’s bad news for you because  everyone of those effects which vehicle you get given.

If you’re lucky, you still get a pretty good car.  You have a chance in the race but maybe you have to work really hard to keep the car because track rules say you have to have constant driving tests along the way to make sure you’re conforming to the system. You’re going to be super careful, especially around the tank owners, because you could easy lose your car under their big crushy tank tracks.

Maybe you get a small, shonky car that hasn’t got great airbags to protect you in a crash. Track rules mean you have even more tests in case your car breaks down and gets in the way of  the really nice cars, or worse, the tanks. It’s a bit of struggle and you have to stay out of the way of those tanks because if you screw up, you could lose your car and whatever health you have .

Maybe you only get a bike.  You have very little  chance of winning the rally and you are very vulnerable amongst all the cars and tanks. If you’re super gifted at navigating around obstacles, you might just be able to stay alive around the course. You might just get to finish the rally.

A lot of people don’t get any kind of vehicle at all. They’re walking.  Maybe with a dodgy hip  and bad feet. Some people, through incredible talent and determination , will still find a way to do okay in the race – aren’t they incredible? But for most of the Walkers, the best they can hope for is to stay alive. It’s entirely possible they’ll get crushed because most people don’t even see them. Tank Guy definitely doesn’t see them.  He’s in a tank, visibility is poor.

To be fair to Tank Guy, he’s been in a tank all his life. Everyone gets out of the way for him. He thinks that’s how life is for everyone because he’s never known any different.

That tank is his privilege

The tank gifts him a clear road. He doesn’t have to think about  who’s in the way. He  rides right over them with barely a bump.  He can’t even see how easy the tank makes the race for him because, like I say,  his life has never been any different. He might not mean any harm,  he just doesn’t  see the damage his tank might cause. 

We’re not done yet.

Tank Guy has a family.  In fact,  Tank Guy has a whole load of ancestors  and guess what? They laid the original tracks for the rally. They  even made up all the rules about how the race should be run. His family are seriously important to the running of the rally. Tank Guy  knows that in every fibre of his being. To his core he knows he deserves that tank, he was born to it.  He never questions it. The track was even designed for his tank which surely proves it.  It’s wide and straight with a few rolling bumps for fun and it’s covered in gravel which is absolutely perfect for a tank.

Gravel is not so great for a car. Cars easily skid on gravel. It gives them a poor start and throws up tiny stones that can chip the windscreen and mark the paint and that can lead to crazed glass and rust spots.

Gravel is pretty terrible if you’re on  a bike. It throws the wheels sideways and if you come off the bike, it skins you.  It’s also pretty dangerous when there are no cycle ways – you could easily get thrown under a tank.

But gravel is the absolute  worst for Walkers. It cuts their feet and slows them down. They might even get an infection and of course, with no dedicated paths, they’re at risk all the time of being run down, especially if they fall on the track when it just hurts too much to walk.

Imagine how different it would be if Walkers designed the track?  They can see the tank so they’d allow a central gravel road. They can see the cars, and the bikes, so they can allow for a smooth separate run for them.  And they know the safest place for pedestrians is a footpath with an even pathed surface that won’t trip them up.

That doesn’t stop the tank.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs don’t mean  taking  away the privileged drives vehicle and giving it to someone who is walking.  It means redesigning  the track. It means that kids who aren’t handed a tank on the day they are born, can see that the track has space for them, and opportunity.

Kind of feels like cheating in the race if you don’t.  I know there’ll be plenty of people happy to cheat to win but I also know a lot of people won’t. That they’ll get it and want to step up and change the track.

I made a list of books if you want to learn more, click here.

Grateful thanks to my patient daughter, Emily Evans,  for help with this, and my even more patient friend, Patrice Lawrence, who always makes time for my stupid questions. Any errors are entirely my own.

Kathryn Evans is the UKYA author of More of Me, Nominated for the 2016 Carnegie medal and winner of the EIBF First Book Award and the SCBWI Crystal Kite. Her latest book, Beauty Sleep, has been described as a ‘fast paced gripping thriller’ – Sunday Express and a ‘Black Mirror take on Sleeping Beauty ‘ – The Book Seller.

Writing Advice

Why Writers Need Friends.

kathy-evans-8101422-smallI’ve been looking through my ideas file for the next thing I want to work on, and  found something I want to share with you, especially if you are an unpublished writer feeling like it’s never going to happen.

It’s from 2010,  the early days of Facebook and it mattered to me so much, I  screenshot the thread and saved it.

I posted:

  Kathryn Evans would like to feel a little more positive about the possibility of ever getting a book deal but, shall instead, be grateful for what she’s got. Honest.

I hope the lovely people who replied don’t mind me sharing their responses, here are a few of them – I’ve redacted their names just in case!


It’ll happen, you’re a talented writer! I remember thinking that at Miriam’s Winchester workshop the year before last!

Yesterday at 12:06 ·


me too! :o)

Yesterday at 12:07 ·


It will probably happen when you least expect it……

Yesterday at 12:10 ·


And you are allowed a grrrrrrrr in the meantime…..

Yesterday at 12:36 ·


oh most definitely… should we have a group ‘grrrrrrrrrrrr’ for you?

Yesterday at 12:37 ·

Kathryn Evans

Group ‘grrrr’ much appreciated and thanks guys……it was something Cxx said about 3 out of 300 subs from agents being accepted by an editor last year… from agents…..I know the talent level out there is phenomenal – which IS great for children’s literature but, but, but….

Yesterday at 13:11 ·


The book I spent 19 months writing has had 7 rejections to date so I can sympathise Kathryn. Every reason under the sun given from – it’s got a boy as the main protagonist (God forbid!) to – it’s too issue driven and not my usual light comedy. It does start to get me down sometimes but as you say, it’s important to be grateful for the royalties that keep my affloat while I’m waiting! Keep smiling. 🙂

Yesterday at 13:41 ·


I will join with you in ggggggggggrrrrrrrrrr-ing! Especially when I hear people wittering on about “trends”…

Yesterday at 14:13 ·


I wish I could make you feel better but I can’t, except perhaps to say, I’m sure it will happen and I love Shem  and when it does happen I want a signed copy and an interview for my blog and an invite to the book publication party and… well, here’s a virtual hug in the mean time (( xx ))

Yesterday at 14:20 ·


Positive attracts positive. When you send it out visualise it being accepted. Hold the positive thought in your mind and believe. It works for many things including parking spots!

Yesterday at 14:26 ·



I wouldn’t stress about probabilities – I mean what was the chance of you getting an agent in the first place? But I absolutely share your frustration. Grrrr, indeed.

Yesterday at 14:39 ·


You’ll get there, Kathryn! It’s just taking longer for everyone’s manuscripts to find a home. So many editors have lost their jobs that it’s making them gun shy. But they still need books to publish… 🙂

Yesterday at 15:10 ·


You will get there. You ARE getting there. Me too and we shall each have our books in stores at the same time! I shall see your titles and you shall see mine. We shall each have little endcaps. Pact? Intend it, baby!

Yesterday at 16:50 ·



oh I know i can’t say anything knowledgeable about publishing (except there are some mad ones out there because Dylan and Mouse hasn’t been published yet) but….as soon as it happens, I’ll be first in the queue at Waterstones!!xx

Yesterday at 17:49 ·


It’ll happen.

Yesterday at 18:12 ·


We know the odds are stacked against us, but we still do it. Just keep swimming xxx

Yesterday at 18:20 ·


and i’ll be right behind you Julie saying in a very loud voice “‘ of course Kathy and i go WAY back….we were at Uni together you know!!”

Yesterday at 19:51 ·

Kathryn Evans

LOl – oh you lot are fab –  ….. I so badly want an editor. There, I’ve said it, they make good books great. Yep Mxx, just keeping on swimming :O)

Yesterday at 20:07 ·



Kathy. “Hi!” Just logged on for the first time today. The editor Cxx is referring to is, I believe, J-H-W and I’ve no reason to doubt her if she claims that she only went for 3 out of the 300 agency-submitted manuscripts… but if every editor chooses a different 3 out of 300, what’s to say that one of your manuscripts won’t be one of them? You have talent. You have an agent and you have perseverance. A winning combination, I reckon.

Yesterday at 22:13 ·

Kathryn Evans

Dxx – most of the time I do, honestly, just now and again, gah! You know…Pxx you are a nice man :O) I hadn’t actually thought that – some of those 300 would be subbed elsewhere, true enough x

Yesterday at 23:11 ·



oh but i think your writing does stand out. it’s just a matter of finding the right editor … i think getting that yes isn’t like a love-in, the editor has to fall head over heels for all the right reasons. i know people who are disappointed with their writing life because they are taken on for the wrong reasons (eg commercial ideas, exploitable). i have to say though that i felt exactly like you did last year.

4 hours ago ·

Kathryn Evans

I shall print these comments off and stick them to the inside of my brain x


I did print them off, and they kept me going until the right manuscript, and my super agent, Sophie Hicks, cracked it.


More of Me was published in 2016, my next novel comes out early next year – I’m still not supposed to talk about it but it won’t hurt to tell you that Shem, one of the characters mentioned above, lives again – different story, same boy. Nothing is ever wasted – which is why I’m going back through my old files and why you, if you are still trying to break through, should keep going.

Lean on your friends, join a writer’s group, if you’re a children’s book writer or illustrator join SCBWI,  try and bump over the disappointments and revel in the highs. I’ve said it so many times but if you are a writer, you have no choice so you might as well get on with it and try and enjoy the  ride. Your pals will help. They really will.

Most of my lovely CHi-SCBWI group!

Writing Advice

Top Tips for New Writers

By Kathryn Evans

School visits are always over too quickly – here’s a little motivational video for the fab writers I meet when I’m out and about 🙂

And here’s another on developing characters!

Feel free to ask questions!

Writing Advice

Editing- Five Steps to add texture and depth to your novel.

Some of you may know I am part of the Notes From The Slushpile blogging team – once  upon a time, all of us were in the slush and we blog to share what we’ve learned along the way. Here’s my post about editing…it’s also a bit of a gif fest – thank Giphy! Continue reading “Editing- Five Steps to add texture and depth to your novel.”

Books, For Readers, More of Me, Writing Advice

The SCBWI Crystal Kite Award 2017

By Kathryn Evans

Sometimes, when you start on a journey, there are certain dreams that seem ridiculously  beyond your reach but you dream them anyway because they just  keep you going.  And sometimes, ridiculously, no matter how far beyond your reach they seem,  those dreams can come true.



The Society of Children’s Book writers and Illustrators is an organisation I’ve belonged to for years.  Through SCBWI workshops and critique groups I’ve learned my craft, and as a volunteer I’ve grown a hugely supportive network of friends and colleagues.

SCBWI members are a mix of published and unpublished writers all on a journey to produce the best work they can and I think that shows in the standard of entries for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award.  It’s  a peer-given award to traditionally published writers and illustrators ,  recognising great books from 15 regions around the world.

Here are the  shortlisted titles  for the UK and Ireland in 2017 – I’ve read and loved them all – anyone of them would be a worthy winner.  In fact, if you’ve gaps in your To Be Read pile, take them as recommendations.

patrice - CopyPatrice Lawrence – Orange Boy

A gritty urban thriller with a powerful family drama at its heart – Winner of the Waterstones Prize for Older Children, Shortlisted for The Costa Prize.



Peter Bunzle – Cogheart cogheart

A steampunk tale of ambition, pursuit and revenge – The Guardian.  Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award.


eugene - CopyEugene Lambert

‘A thrilling YA sci-fi adventure reminiscent of Hunger Games and Star Wars … a fantastic page-turner with great characters in Kyle and Sky’  Booktrust


Ally Sherrick blackpowder

A gutsy  adventure-packed tale of the Guy Fawkes story told from 12 year old Tom’s point of view as he struggles to save his father in a world that’s against him.



lyingSue Wallman

In intense psychological thriller selected for the Zoella book Club and  a really brilliant page turner.




And  in case there is still space on your bookshelf, here are some previous winners…


Teri Terrmindgamesy – Mind Games

A complex and futuristic thriller that, even at a hefty 433 pages, will leave you wanting more…another stunning example of Teri Terry doing what she does best (The School Librarian)

Teri has won so many awards I can’t even list them all.



ratClaire Furniss – The Year of The Rat

Beautifully written and emotionally charged debut about love, loss and families. Would appeal to fans of Annabel Pitcher. (The Bookseller)
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase, Longlisted for the Cilip Carnegie Medal



And  the 2017 winner…


Well… More of Me by Kathryn Evans

Buy at Hive or Amazon

Dreams really can come true if you just don’t give up.

More of Me by Kathryn Evans, winner of the 2017  Society of Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award for UK and Ireland.

Pinch Me.