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Awakening Words: An Interview with Kathryn Lund, author of The Things We Left Sleeping

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Kathryn Lund lives in the historic city of York in the north of England. She studied archaeology as an undergraduate and postgraduate before doing her masters in Creative Writing. It was from her masters’ submissions that she created her two books, a collection of short stories called The Things We Keep in the Cupboard and her critically well-received novel The Things We Left Sleeping. Released in 2022, The Things We Left Sleeping was named an Indie Top 100 by Shelf Unbound Magazine.

Kathryn has neurofunctional disorder. Chronic illness and mental health form the basis of a lot of her writing. You can find out more about her and her work at

You can buy The Things We Left Sleeping here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The Things We Left Sleeping was a hard title to find but it’s also fundamental to the book. What parts of us go to sleep when we experience illness or grief? Which of those parts will we fight to wake up and keep with us? What things will we leave to sleep because we need to move beyond them; because we’ve forever lost the part of ourselves that they were part of?

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

It was amazing. The process of getting to the book cover was such a supportive one and when I saw it I knew the design team had listened and responded to my comments. I get a lot of compliments on the book cover and I am always proud to show it.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I wanted to give people the experience of grief and illness. When you are ill, and when it is a neurological problem you are suffering from, one of the hardest things to do is describe what’s wrong and how the world feels to you. The part of yourself you use to describe things—your brain—is the part that isn’t working. Writing offered me that chance—to show how an experience isn’t linear, engages across multiple narratives and surfaces, and is a journey not only written but constructed by words as language and thought structures returned to me.

I also wanted to create a safe depositary for my memories, an important thing when memory can be an issue for me due to illness. Although the book is not a biography, it is drawn from my experiences. I wanted to discuss the grief of losing a parent and to put parts of my mum—her stories, her love—somewhere where they can be forever. I wanted her to be somewhere, forever.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have worked mainly in museums and heritage; for seven years I ran the Visitor Centre at a Roman archaeological excavation. I also worked for a bespoke art and photography framer until I started my current job as an Information Advisor for a university.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

Knowing it is read. You can’t want more than that.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

My character Stevie is often listening to the radio. She likes 90s club classics and hardcore trance, requesting Eiffel 65 and Blue when we first meet her.

My other character Evie is very musical: she plays the bass clarinet and her family plays together around their piano. When writing these scenes of Evie’s family, I was thinking about the songs my mum played when I was younger, the ones she’d have on when she was baking in the kitchen or cleaning the house. Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, The Carpenters. The songs I play when I miss her.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

That writing is limitless—the blank page can contain anything, even our entire mind when our mind is struggling. I hope they take away a sense of self, and a thought about what is important to them, what they would fight for, who they would go on a journey to say “I love you” to.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I have a YA novel that I am in the final stages of writing. I am renovating a house and growing vegetables. I like to think I’ve struck a good balance and my life is full.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

I have found Atmosphere Press to be really professional and friendly, always ready to help me. I am proud to say I am published by them and cannot fault the quality of the service.

If you don’t publish, no one is going to read it. If you don’t publish, no one can read it.

You can buy The Things We Left Sleeping here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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