Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

September 17, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 18 September, 12-2pm

Tune in to North Manchester FM on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History. This week, I’m going to be talking about a near-forgotten but utterly captivating figure of North Manchester history – Miss Mary Taylor of Moston. (You may remember that I introduced Miss Mary very briefly at the end of last week’s show.)

A member of the Taylor family of Moston, Miss Mary lived much of her life at Crofter’s House on what is now Moss Brook Road, now the home of the Manchester and Cheshire Dogs’ Home. A lover of the countryside, and of the health-giving properties of fresh air, Miss Mary was a well-known figure around nineteenth-century Moston. She was also a very intelligent woman: she studied for a time with scientist John Dalton, who spoke highly of her ‘mental abilities’, and was known for her botanical knowledge.

I’ll be introducing Miss Mary and talking about what we know of her long and colourful life. I’ll also be reading a few excerpts from a 1905 book: Moston Characters at Play, by John Ward. The first chapter of Ward’s book includes an unofficial census of Moston taken by Miss Mary in 1841 – an invaluable snapshot of the area at the time.

There’s definitely something about Mary…

In addition to this, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s landmark buildings?

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

September 11, 2018

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 15 September, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm for more Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be welcoming the brill N.J. Cartner to the studio.

Born and raised in Manchester and heavily influenced by music, film and literature, N.J. has aspired to work in and around the creative arts since his teenage years. It was only when he hit his late twenties that life took a fortunate turn and gave him the opportunity to fulfil those dreams. He was invited to write for a local online music fanzine, naturally jumping at the chance to review and interview underground bands on the rock music scene. It quickly became apparent from feedback that he had a natural flair for creative writing within the industry, and he continues to be a writer and reviewer on the scene to this day.

Over the years, his involvement with music continued to progress and he now co-hosts and co-runs the Sonic Bandwagon radio show on Stockport radio station, Pure 107.8FM. This enthusiasm for music has become an integral part of his writing, very evident in his first novel, Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas.

I’ll be talking to N.J. about the novel, his music writing, and his influences. And, of course, he’ll be sharing his selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

September 7, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 11 September, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be chatting to Robert Hargreaves and Alan Hampson about their new book, Beyond Peterloo: Elijah Dixon and Manchester’s Forgotten Reformers.

Elijah Dixon, of Newton Heath, played a key role in the Blanketeer’s March of 1817. Arrested, chained in double irons and imprisoned without trial, the episode set the stage for the Peterloo Massacre. Everybody in Victorian Manchester knew of Elijah Dixon. Over a period of sixty years, he was an ever-present force in the tumultuous politics of the town. An early apostle of votes for women, Temperance advocate, Christian convert, Dixon rose from poverty to make a fortune as Britain’s first mass-producer of matches.

In Beyond Peterloo, Robert and Alan bring Dixon’s previously overlooked yet vital contribution to social reform to life. Set against the backdrop of the Blanketeer’s March of 1817 and the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, they reveal the fascinating story of his life and work as Manchester’s forgotten reformer.

As well as sharing my interview with Robert and Alan, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s landmark buildings?

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

September 7, 2018

Clayton Hall’s New Writer-in-Residence

Historic Clayton Hall is welcoming its first writer-in-residence! North Manchester writer and poet Hannah Kate (aka me!) joins the team at Clayton Hall Living History Museum from September 2018 as writer-in-residence.

Hannah is the author of numerous short stories and poems, many of which are inspired by her love of Manchester’s history. Often dark and strange, her fiction includes ‘Nimby’ and ‘Knotweed’ (both set in North Manchester parks) and ‘Lever’s Row’ (a sort of love song to Piccadilly Gardens). Her most recent published work is ‘Dust to Dust’, a horror story inspired by Hollinwood’s Hannah Beswick, also known as the Manchester Mummy. Hannah is also the host of long-running radio shows ‘Hannah’s Bookshelf’ and ‘A Helping of History’ on North Manchester FM.

During her residency at the hall, Hannah will be running events and activities for both beginner and more experienced creative writers. She’ll also be writing and performing some original pieces inspired by Clayton Hall and its long and unique history. Watch this space for details of upcoming activities and opportunities to get involved!

Clayton Hall is a Grade II*-listed building and a rare example of a moated, medieval site. Standing on a scheduled ancient monument it is situated in Clayton Park, Manchester. The original hall was built for the Clayton family in the twelfth century. It later passed into the hands of the Byron family, of which the poet Lord Byron was a member. The Byrons lived at the hall until they sold it to two London merchants, George and Humphrey Chetham. Humphrey is famous for founding Chethams School and Library in the centre of Manchester.

Patchwork Poem

Help create a Patchwork Poem at Clayton Hall this Saturday! Meet the hall’s new writer-in-residence Hannah Kate at the Heritage Open Day on Saturday 8th September. Hannah will be collecting words, phrases and lines of poetry from visitors to the hall – any little scraps and patches people share during their visit. Hannah will be taking these pieces and stitching them together to create a Clayton Hall ‘Patchwork Poem’. If you’re visiting the hall on Saturday, please do say hello to Hannah and leave us a few of your words!

September 7, 2018

3 Minute Scares is back for its third terrifying year!

North Manchester FM presenter Hannah Kate wants scary stories for Halloween! She’s asking people throughout Greater Manchester to submit their scariest 3-minute stories for her annual creative writing competition. Writers keen to be crowned Greater Manchester’s Spookiest Wordsmith can submit a recording of their mini-tale via Hannah’s website, with the best entries being played on air on the Halloween edition of Hannah’s Bookshelf on Saturday 27th October.

The Halloween flash fiction competition will be judged by Dr Sorcha Ní Fhlaínn and Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes of MMU’s Centre for Gothic Studies, with the writer of the best entry receiving a prize from Breakout Manchester, the real-life escape room game. Entries need to be 3 minutes long, meaning a word count of 350-400 words. The judges will be looking for style and originality, as well as how scary the story is. The deadline for entries is Monday 15th October, at midnight.

Last year’s competition was won by Fiona Cullen, with a rather squeamish little tale about a college biology lesson. North Manchester FM presenter Hannah Kate says: ‘I loved Fiona’s story – it was so dark! Over the past couple of years, I’ve been really impressed with the way people can tell so much in just three minutes. There’s a lot of talent out there, and I’m looking forward to seeing what people across our region submit for this year’s competition.’

All writers need to enter the competition is a computer with a microphone… and a good story. Entries can be recorded via Hannah’s website. More information and rules of the competition can also be found on the website.

Hannah’s Bookshelf is North Manchester FM’s weekly literature show, and it goes out live every Saturday 2-4pm. The show has been running since January 2015 and has featured guests including Rosie Garland, Ramsey Campbell, Tony Walsh and Gwyneth Jones. The show broadcasts on 106.6FM for North Manchester residents and through the ‘listen online’ feature for the rest of the world.

September 7, 2018

OUT NOW: The Spooky Isles Book of Horror, edited by Andrew Garvey and David Saunderson (Dark Sheep Books, 2018)

A new collection of stories and articles about the UK and Ireland’s horror and folklore, including a short story and essay about Hannah Beswick, the Manchester Mummy, by yours truly…

From The Spooky Isles, the UK and Ireland’s favourite horror and paranormal website, this first volume of the Spooky Isles Book of Horror features 20 stories and essays from 18 different authors. Well-established dark literary voices and new writers explore the UK and Ireland’s darkest horror and folklore, from long-dead serial killers to malignant fairies, evil cults, spontaneous human combustion, vengeful ghosts and black dogs…

… welcome to the Spooky Isles!


Sparks by Michael Connon
The Black Dog by Tracy Fahey
Letters from a Toxic Heart by Ed Burkley
Lambs to the Slaughter by Chris Rush
Havergill’s Fetch by Catherine Shingler
Hunger by Ann O’Regan
Jackfest by Phil Davies
Dust to Dust by Hannah Kate
Am Fear Liath, the Grey Man of Ben Macdui by Kevin Williams
The Handfast Wife by Áine King
Ring Around the Rosie by Barry McCann
Churchgoing by Kevin Patrick McCann
The Ear by Jaki McCarrick
Creatures of Rath and Bone by Rachel Steiner
The Final Answer by Will Graham
Camp 46 by Petula Mitchell
Stranger than Before by Barry McCann
The Pied Piper of Essex by Ra Goli
Spoor by DC Merryweather
Come Away by Tracy Fahey

For more information, or to buy a copy of the book, please visit the Spooky Isles website.

September 6, 2018

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 8 September, 2-4pm

Tune in to North Manchester FM on Saturday at 2pm for more from Hannah’s Bookshelf. This week, I’ll be talking to the fab Marc Nash.

Marc has published five collections of flash fiction and his fifth novel Three Dreams In The Key Of G has been shortlisted for the 2018 Not The Booker Prize. He has had articles or short stories published by The Rough Guide To Rock, Akashic Books, Culture Matters, The Good Men Project, Minor Lits, RIC Journal, and the London Literary Project among others. He works with video makers to turn some of his flash fiction into digital storytelling. An excellent live performer, he won the 2014 Brighton Digital festival Flash Slam. He lives and works in London in the freedom of expression realm.

I’ll be talking to Marc about his novels, short stories and flash fiction. And, of course, he’ll be sharing his selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

September 3, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 4 September, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’m going to be breaking one of my usual rules on the show, and venturing into the city centre for a rather personal story about research.

A couple of years ago, Chethams Library tweeted an image of a lantern slide showing a street scene in Manchester. It was undated, and the location wasn’t given. But there was something about the picture that captured my imagination… and it haunted me for two years! On this week’s Helping of History, I’ll be telling the story of how I became obsessed with this street scene, and how I investigated it. I’ll also be revealing (what I believe is) the date and location of the picture. (And if you check out my Twitter feed during the show, you can see links to the image itself.)

Of course, I’ll also be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s iconic buildings?

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

September 1, 2018

Rise of the Machines: A Selection of Literary Robots

On this week’s Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM, I talked about some of my favourite literary robots (including cyborgs and A.I.). I don’t know whether this was inspired by the anniversary of Judgment Day, or the fact that I had a couple of conversations about A.I. this week with my other hat on, or just the fact that I’m quite fascinated by robots! Whatever the inspiration was, you can listen to the show again on the player at the bottom of this post. And, as promised, here’s the list of books discussed on air this Saturday.

Did I miss your favourite robot? Let me know in the comments!

R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Čapek (1920)

Čapek’s influential science fiction play premiered in January 1921, and was first translated and adapted for the English stage in 1923. It introduces us to Rossum’s island factory, which makes artificial humans which are called ‘robots’ (though they aren’t the mechanical androids of later fiction, but rather artificially created biological organisms). ‘Old’ Rossum was a biologist, who came to the island in 1920 to study marine life. However, he discovered a chemical that he believed would allow him to make animals, and he began to experiment. When his nephew (‘Young’ Rossum) arrived on the island, he simply saw the potential for making money. making – Young Rossum locked his uncle in his laboratory, while he made robots. In the play’s ‘present’ (around 2000), robots and now commonplace and cheap. Helena Glory, the daughter of the president of a major industrial nation, travels to the island and is shown around by the General Manager, before she reveals that she is a member of the League of Humanity, who wishes to free the robots. The events that follow examine the relationship/boundaries between humans and artificial intelligence, but also the (im)possibility of co-existence.

No discussion of robots in fiction could be complete without a discussion of Čapek’s play, as it introduced the word ‘robot’ into our lexicon. Robota is derived from a Czech word meaning forced labour or serfdom – which really sets a particular scene for all human/robot relationships that follow. The play was first translated into English by Paul Selver, and adapted for the English stage by Nigel Playfair in 1923. In February 1938, a BBC adaptation of a section of the play became the first ever piece of science fiction television to be broadcast.

Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1907)

Okay, so I talked about this book a bit on my Chick Lit Special, but I decided to include Return to Oz (the novelization of the 1985 film) on that reading list. I guess that leaves me free to add Ozma of Oz to this list! This is the third book in Baum’s Oz series, and the first book in which most of the action takes place outside the land of Oz. It’s also the first book to introduce Tik-Tok, who has been described as ‘the prototype robot’. On accidentally rocking up in the Land of Ev, Dorothy Gale discovers Tik-Tok in bad shape in a cave. Made of copper, clockwork, and unable to wind himself up, Tik-Tok is definitively not alive, and cannot feel emotions. After he’s been wound up, he describes himself as Dorothy’s ‘slave’, though this seems to be meant as a positive assertion of devotion.

I mentioned on my Chick Lit show that I was always very unsettled by Tik-Tok in Return to Oz. He always seems liked a kind of ‘wrong’ version of the Tin Man from the original story, and I never trusted him. I’m not the only person to find Tik-Tok somewhat sinister, as modern stories inspired by Baum’s creation are often rather dark. In Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, ‘tik-tok’ becomes a word used to describe any automaton. The main tik-tok in the book is Grommetik, who has… issues, shall we say? And in his 1983 novel, Tik-Tok, John Sladek reimagines the character as a chaotic and murderous creation. To be honest, though, I still find Baum’s version the scariest. And I still don’t trust him.

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin (1972)

In a way, this next book needs little introduction, as it’s title has become a by-word for robotic feminine conformity. However, in another way, it does need some introduction, as many people are far more familiar with the film adaptations. Levin’s novel introduces us to Joanna Eberhart, a photographer newly arrived in Stepford, Connecticut from New York City. While her husband Walter and her children settle in, Joanna becomes disturbed by aspects of their new neighbourhood. She befriends Bobbie (a bit of a slob) and Charmaine (a woman who would rather leave housework to her maid, so she can just play tennis all day), but finds many of her other neighbours… a bit odd. Walter begins to spend most of his time at the Stepford Man’s Association and dismisses her concerns. When Joanna notices neighbours and friends transforming into docile housewives, she realises that something is very wrong in Stepford.

There have been two film adaptation of The Stepford Wives. The first was made in 1975, and starred Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss and Peter Masterson. The second, made in 2004, stars Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick and Bette Midler, but it almost entirely misses the point of Levin’s satirical (and rather horrific) novel.

He, She and It by Marge Piercy (1991)

It’s 2059, and all the economic and political power in North America is now held by multi-national corporations (‘multis’), who operate as societies in themselves. Most of the population lives in the slum-like ‘glop’ outside the corporate enclaves, where life is dominated by poverty and gang fighting. The only exceptions to this are the ‘free towns’, who sell technology to the multis but remain autonomous. This is the world Piercy plunges us into in her award-winning novel He, She and It (also published as Body of Glass). Piercy introduces us to Shira, a divorced woman who has lost custody of her son, who leaves the enclave in which she has been living and returns to her hometown of Tikva. Tikva is a Jewish free town, and there Shira’s grandmother Malkah has been working to create Yod, a cyborg intended to protect the city from raiders. Shira is tasked with working on Yod’s socialization, and this develops into a relationship between woman and cyborg. But then Tikva is attacked…

Interwoven with the story of Shira and Yod is the story of Rabbi Judah Loew and the Golem of Prague (which is told to Yod by Malkah, Shira’s grandmother). By bringing these stories together, Piercy creates a cyberpunk exploration of human identity, artificial life, Jewish identity and marginalization. It’s also a story considers questions of gender, ecology, technology and economics through the relationship between a woman, her grandmother and an artificial man.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012)

Marissa Meyer’s debut YA novel is – as you might have guessed – loosely based on Cinderella. The story is set in New Beijing, part of a futuristic world in which countries have formed new empires, and the moon has been colonized. Asia is now an empire known as Eastern Commonwealth, and its people have companions androids and cybernetic modications. Our protagonist is Linh Cinder, a cyborg who runs on a market stall. Cinder lives with her stepmother Linh Adri, and her stepsisters Peony and Pearl. A disease known as ‘Blue Fever’ (or letumosis) has been brought by the ‘Lunars’ to earth, and there is no known cure. When Linh Peony falls ill, Adri ‘volunteers’ Cinder for ‘plague research’. But it turns out Cinder is immune to letumosis – is there something she doesn’t know? Are there secrets in Cinder’s past to be discovered? Through the research of Dr Erland, as well as that of Prince Kai, heir to the Eastern Commonwealth, Cinder has to build herself an identity to survive.

Meyer followed Cinder with a series of sequels (known as The Lunar Chronicles), which continue Cinder’s story: Scarlet (2013), Cress (2014), Fairest (2015) and Winter (2015). Each of the books offers a loose retelling of a fairy tale, namely Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White.

Konpyuta ga shosetsu wo kaku hi [The Day a Computer Writes a Novel] by Hitoshi Matsubara and friends (2016)

And finally, something a little different. The Japanese novel The Day a Computer Writes a Novel is told from the perspective of a sentient AI who discovers enjoyment in creative writing and decides to break free of his programming and cease serving humans. The reason the book made international news is that it was… actually written by a robot. (Well, it was generated by an A.I. programme.) More surprisingly, the book got though the first round of the Japanese Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award! It seems a robot came very close to winning a literary award!

But all is not quite as it was reported in the Anglophone press… Hitoshi Matsubara and (human) team actually programmed in much of the novel (including character and plot outlines). And the whole point of the Hoshi Literary Award is to encourage submissions from AI (plus space aliens and animals), as the award was set up in memory of Shinichi Hoshi, a Japanese science fiction writer known for his short story collection The Whimsical [or Capricious] Robot. You can read more about the book and the award here.

While I would have loved to end the show with a novel actually written by a robot, it seems that was not meant to be. A.I. just can’t replace humans when it comes to creative writing… at least, not yet.

To hear more about all of these books, and my reasons for choosing them, you can catch the show again here:

August 27, 2018

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 28 August, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’m going to be rambling on (hee hee!) about inspirational son of Cheetham Hill, Benny Rothman.

Born in Cheetham Hill in 1911, Benny Rothman worked as an errand boy, and at Avro’s and Metropolitan-Vickers. But he is best known for his activism – and particularly his role in the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, which led to a campaign by the Ramblers’ Association to secure the ‘right to roam’ in open country.

I’m going to be talking about Rothman’s role in this campaign, but also about his other political activism as a communist and socialist, and his background as the son of a poor Romanian-Jewish family in North Manchester.

As well as this, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s iconic buildings?

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here: