Episode 8

Female anger and family curses with Mary Watson

Mary Watson is from Cape Town and now lives on the west coast of Ireland. She’s worked as an art museum guide, library assistant, theatre duty manager, and an actor in children’s musicals. She has a PhD from the University of Cape Town where she taught for many years. She won the Caine Prize in 2006, and the Philida Award in 2022. She writes short stories, young adult fantasy and thrillers. Her YA debut, The Wren Hunt, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. Today we are discussing her new YA novel, Blood to Poison.

Our interview begins at  00:12:00

Caitlin recommends: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

A fun read that plays on (and twists) our favourite romance tropes.

Michelle recommends: One Ordinary Day at a Time by Sarah J Harris

A moving and beautiful contemporary novel about two unlikely friends who have the power to change each other's lives.

In this interview, we chat about:

  • How Mary's own family curse and grief inspired the novel
  • Female anger, shame and intergenerational anger
  • The joy Mary found in writing about her South African homeland after writing about Ireland in her previous YA books
  • The magic Mary invented for the novel and the 'real strange' found in South Africa
  • Mary's publishing journey and moving from adult literary books to YA after a career as an academic

Books and other things mentioned:

  • Beach Read and You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

Follow Mary Watson on Instagram @Marym_watson

Blood to Poison is available now. Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending us copies of the book to read in preparation for the interview.

Connect with us on Instagram: @betterwordspod

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.