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THE 50/50 PROJECT: Finishing my Doctorate & Publishing my Exegesis

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

THE 50/50 PROJECT: Finishing my Doctorate & Publishing my Exegesis


My novel BITTER GREENS was written as the creative component of a Doctorate in Creative Arts at the University of Technology, Sydney.

It retells ‘Rapunzel’ in a Renaissance Venice setting, entwining the fairy tale with the dramatic true-life story of the 17th century French noblewoman who wrote the tale as it is best known, Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force. She was second cousin to Louis XIV, the Sun King, and a maid-of-honour at the royal court in Versailles. She wrote her story ‘Persinette’ while locked away in an impoverished convent by the king, as punishment for her wild and wicked ways (which included dressing up as a dancing bear to try and rescue her much younger lover). 

BITTER GREENS  took me seven long years to research and write, including the four years that it took complete my doctorate. 

As the theoretical component of the degree, I also wrote a 30,000-word dissertation on the history of the Maiden in the Tower tale, examining why this tale haunted my imagination above all others, and why it has continued to be told and re-told for so many hundreds of years.

I am very glad and proud to announce that my doctoral dissertation is to be published in book form by the wonderful people at FableCroft.

THE REBIRTH OF RAPUNZEL: A MYTHIC BIOGRAPHY OF THE MAIDEN IN THE TOWER will also include a number of essays and articles on fairy tales and folklore. 

FableCroft said, in their press release: “This unique collection will include Kate’s research on the Rapunzel story that underpinned her stunning, award-winning novel, BITTER GREENS … The book is not your usual reference work, but an wonderful exploration of the subject matter, written in Kate’s clever and engaging style.” 

FableCroft have released both a hardcover print edition as well as an accessible ebook version, with cover art by Kathleen Jennings.


You can buy the book now! I hope that you  find the book a fascinating companion book to BITTER GREENS


THE 50/50 PROJECT: Flying in a hot air balloon

Thursday, April 20, 2017

As you may know – if you read this blog a lot – I have a list of things I want to do one day that I call The 50/50 Project.

Last year was my 50th birthday and so I set out to make as many of these dreams come true as possible.

One utterly magical thing I did was ride in a hot air balloon over the chateaux of the Loire Valley with my friend Susie Stratton.

We were up early and had to try and find our way to a field in the middle of nowhere with a navigation system that only recognised major roads. Somehow we made it in time, and watched in fascination as the balloon was inflated with fiery bursts of gas.

Then up, up and away we floated!


It was a bright clear day, and our balloon drifted over meadows and rivers and gardens and castles. 

We finished drinking champagne and eating croissants in the middle of a wildflower meadow. 

It truly was a marvellous adventure!

I just need to try and work it into a book one day …

THE 50/50 PROJECT: Celebrating Midsummer's Day at a circle of stones

Monday, March 20, 2017

Something I have always wanted to do is celebrate the summer solstice at an ancient circle of stones like Stonehenge or Avebury.

It’s actually No 9 on my list of things I want to do one day – I call this list my 50/50 project

I was actually in England for the summer solstice last year, and only half an hour’s drive away from the Rollright Stones which is – so far – my favourite circle of stones. 

But I was too scared to go out in the dark by myself! I didn’t know anyone else who was going and I didn’t want to intrude on the celebrations of anyone who might be there. So I didn’t get to see the sunrise over the stones, as I’d hoped.

I did, however, go the next day. 

And it was such a beautiful & magical experience I thought I’d share it with you … even though it’s not quite making that particular dream come true. 

I went with Krys Saclier and Martina Smythe, two of my students from the 2016 History, Mystery & Magic retreat in the Cotswolds, and Martina took most of these dreamy photographs (thank you for letting me use them!)

Maybe one day I’ll be back in the UK at midsummer and will have the courage to go and see the sun rise over a circle of stones (or at least, have some friends to go with me!)

THE 50/50 PROJECT: Flying in a helicopter

Thursday, February 23, 2017

It was my 50th birthday last year & so I set out to fulfill as many items on my 50/50 project as possible.

You may not know about The 50/50 Project – it’s simply a list of dreams and plans and ambitions that I hope to make come true. There’s no deadline, and I probably will never achieve all of them, but it is fun trying!

No 25 on my list is to ride in a helicopter, and so my lovely husband organised a secret adventure on the day of my birthday (which is 3rd June – sorry, it’s taken me a while to post about it!)

June is winter in Sydney and it was a cold, wet, blustery day. 

My husband thought it was a shame, because Sydney is so beautiful when it sparkles in the sunshine, but I didn’t mind at all. 

In fact, it was so exciting and atmospheric seeing the raindrops hit the glass and feeling the wind rattle the rotors. 

Then we went out for lunch, and my husband gave me another wonderful surprise - some gorgeous ruby earrings!

So I was very spoilt on my 50th birthday ... and I can cross another thing off my bucket list!

THE 50/50 PROJECT: Seeing Uluru at sunset

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

This year I had a significant birthday, and so I drew up a list of fifty dreams, ambitions and desires that I call THE 50/50 PROJECT (I guess that gives away what kind of significant birthday I endured!)

The list is not static - as I think of new things I badly want to do, I add it to the list (though this means I have to remove something else.)

However, right from the start I've had on my list:


So my husband and I took a romantic weekend away in early November to visit Ulura in the Red Centre of Australia. We flew into the Ayers Rock Resort on Friday night and stayed at Longitude 131, which is right inside the national park. It's a row of fifteen glamorous 'tents' with amazing views of Uluru - you can watch the sunrise over the rock from your own bed.   

Our first night there we were taken out to see the famous rock change colours as the sun goes down. It really is extraordinary - this huge monolith rising from the flat desert scrub, changing from brown to red to orange to violet as the stars begin to shine. 

We then walked the Field of Stars art installation by the British artist Bruce Munro which was just magical:

(I didn't take this photo - it was too dark by the time we got there. This photo is by Mark Pickthall from AU ABROAD)

Then we had a magical dinner under the stars, while our guides from Longitude 131 told us stories of the stars spread out above us and we listened to a local play the didgeridoo. It was really magical.

Over the next few days we walked into the gorges of Kata Tjuta, and learnt from our guide the convulsive geographical events the led to the formation of Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and were told about many of the fascinating native plants and wild flowers growing in the desert. 

We also walked around the base of Uluru, and heard some of the Dreamtime stories of the local Pitjantjatjara people - you can just imagine how much I loved that. I was particularly struck by how deeply embedded the stories were in the landscape. Many myths of the world have been unanchored from place, but the stories of the Pitjantjatjara are inspired by, and proven by, the unique rock outcrops and waterholes and flora and fauna of the area, and cannot be cut free of them.

We watched the sun set and the moon rise over the great orange mound of rock, and then returned for another delicious meal of local produce - including kangaroo. 

It truly was an amazing experience and I am so glad we went. The lovely people at Longitude 131 looked after us so well, and I learnt so much. 

And I'm happy to have crossed one more thing off my list of The 50/50 Project

THE 50/50 PROJECT: My new red convertible!

Monday, November 02, 2015

Next year I have a significant birthday, and so I have drawn up a list of fifty dreams, ambitions and desires that I call THE 50/50 PROJECT (I guess that gives away what kind of significant birthday I am facing!)

The list is not static - as I think of new things I badly want to do, I add it to the list (though this means I have to remove something else.)

However, right from the start I've had on my list:


And now that particular dream has come true. Here I am in my new, very cute, very red Mini S Cooper convertible.

Red lipstick mandatory.


You can see the whole list of dreams and ambitions at THE 50/50 PROJECT (as I continually reassure my husband, I know some of these are highly unlikely to ever be achieved).

What about you? What are your hopes and dreams (improbably or otherwise)? What should I add to my 50/50 list?


THE 50/50 PROJECT: Visiting the Bronte Vicarage at Haworth

Friday, July 31, 2015

On my website I have a page called The 50/50 Project, where I have listed the 50 things I still wish to do in my life.

No 11 on the list is "See where the Bronte sisters grew up and wrote their books".

"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte, "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte and "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' by Anne Bronte are among my all-time favourite books, and I have read so many books about them and their work. I re-read one of their novels every few years, and never fail to fall in love with them again. 

have wanted to go to the Bronte Vicarage in Haworth for as long as I can remember, and at last - in July 2015 - I finally made the pilgrimage.     

It was a beautiful sunny day, and - although I had been warned I'd have to fight flocks of tourists - I practically had the house to myself. 


I found the little house very moving - Charlotte Bronte's flower-trimmed wedding bonnet and tiny lace gloves:

"Nothing would satisfy some of my friends but white which I told you I would not wear. Accordingly they dressed me in white by way of trial--vowed away their consciences that nothing had ever suited me so well--and white I had to buy and did buy to my own amazement--but I took care to get it in cheap material--there were some insinuations about silk, tulle and I don't know what--but I stuck convulsively to muslin--plain book muslin with a tuck or two. Also the white veil--I took care should be a matter of 5s being simply of tulle with little tucks. If I must make a fool of myself--it shall be on an economical plan."
~ Charlotte Brontë wrote in a letter to Elizabeth Gaskell, early June 1854

Poor Charlotte died while in the early stages of pregnancy, perhaps from tuberculosis, perhaps from typhoid, perhaps from malnutrition following severe morning sickness. She was 38.

 I also loved the little books in which they wrote their poem and stories: 


And the couch on which Emily Bronte is said to have died, aged only 30:


I had not realised how close the vicarage was to the church and to the village. Somehow I had always imagined it as being high on a windswept moor ...






Here are some of my favourite quotes from these favourite authors of mine:





Anne died far too young as well, and its impossible not to wish that they had all and a chance to live and be happy and write more wonderful books and have children, to pass on (perhaps) their extraordinary genuis.

I am even more fascinated by this brilliant and heart-wrenching family since having visited their home at Haworth - if you are ever travelling the wild windswept moors of Yorkshire, you must go too!

THE 50/50 PROJECT: Standing under a waterfall

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I have a secret page on my website that only those that search carefully can find. I call it The 50/50 Project ...

It is a list of all my hopes and dreams - both possible and impossible - & all the places I hope to one day go and all the things I hope to one day do. I call it The 50/50 Project because it was inspired by the inching closer of my 50th birthday and the realisation that there are still so many things in the world I want to do (I found 50 of them, hence the title). The idea is that - as I go somewhere or achieve something - I'll blog about it, and gradually be able to cross off some of these dreams. 

Today I am crossing off:

No 36: Stand Under A Waterfall

I actually did this last year, when I was touring for THE IMPOSSIBLE QUEST in the Top End. Panos Couras, who was then the director of the Northern Territory Writers Centre, took me to swim at Wangi Falls in the Litchfield National Park, 100 km south-west of Darwin. 

It was the most magical place that felt very secret and ancient (apart from the dozens of people swimming there!) Its surrounded by red desert and grey-green bush for hundreds of kilometres, and the water plummets down a ochre-red rock face in heavy white veils. To get to the waterfalls, you need to swim across the waterhole which is incredibly dark and cold. Your arms and legs are greenish-brown under the water, and I could not help being afraid of crocodiles (even though I knew the waterpool was only opened if no crocodiles were sighted). 

Here is my photographic proof! (Thanks to Panos Couras who took the photos)

And to give you an idea of how tall the waterfall is (about 52 metres): 

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