Kathryn Tann is a young writer from South Wales. She came to Manchester after a year’s break following her time at Durham University, where she gained a First Class BA in English Literature. Kathryn writes short fiction and creative non-fiction, and is currently working on her first novel. She has a number of online publications including Porridge Magazine, Wales Arts Review and The Manchester Review. Her work was also shortlisted for the PENfro Prize in 2019 followed by publication in the winners’ anthology Heartland (Parthian) and for the Terry Hetherington Award 2020 (anthology forthcoming). She also works as a freelancer in the publishing industry, produces The Podcast for New Writing, and has extensive experience in reviewing both theatre and literature. As a writer, she considers her greatest sources of inspiration to be wild and coastal landscapes, and the wonderful idiosyncrasies of the individual experience.
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This is an extract taken from Kathryn’s novel-in-progress. The book has a five-part, non-linear structure, formed of five pivotal journeys in the lives of a mother, Nancy, and her daughter Jane. The story shows how experiences move across generations, and the rapid evolution of travel and transport across the 20th century. Part One takes place on a steamship bound from Liverpool to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1922. Nancy is nineteen and from Swansea, and has been married just a few days to Herman – whose hometown they’re now heading for. We meet her when, on the second day, Nancy is overcome with seasickness.
‘Oh Nance, are ya sick?’
Nancy was crouched on the floor between the two narrow beds, her back to the cabin door. Before her was the Canada Steam Company room-standard chamber pot. Remnants of her small breakfast swam below her watery eyes, and all she wanted was to be alone. Herman’s voice reached her from somewhere far away, hardly noticeable under the thud of her heart against her breastbone.
‘Nance?’ the voice repeated, ‘Are you alright? Do you need anything?’
Nancy pictured her new husband standing a few feet behind her, a look of horror slapped across his face. Not now, she thought. She needed to stay very still and quiet. She needed to concentrate.
‘I’m—’ her voice came out all wavering and pathetic, ‘—I’m fine. I’ll be fine.’ She tried to focus on her breathing, pushing out one shaky breath after another. For the first time since they met, she wanted him to go away.
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