THE YEAR OF KAT, a novel

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What happens when backing out of your driveway, late for work, and the phone rings? If you’re Katherine Graeme, you answer it. But when she does, she sets in motion a catastrophic accident that pushes her into a year-long journey to discover meaning in tragedy.

 

That fateful morning culminated in the death of Katherine’s only child, 5-year-old Emma. Plagued with guilt and unable to accept that she caused Emma’s death, Katherine runs, or rather drives west.  When her car breaks down on a Navajo reservation in the high desert of New Mexico, Katherine abandons it and is rescued by a rainmaker named Ezekiel Raine. The people in the nearby nameless town call him Eze. Easy. Katherine dubs herself Kat and for the next year she attempts to reinvent herself, to distance herself from Emma’s death, to forget where she came from and what she did. But in every hit of hallucinatory peyote, she sees the ghost of Emma; in every bottle of bourbon, she sees herself killing her own daughter. And in the Navajo healing ceremonies and joyous celebrations of nature, she sees a possible way forward but only if she fully embraces her role in Emma’s death. She resists, but when one of the town’s children goes missing in a snow storm, Kat realizes she has the chance to redeem herself by rescuing another’s child even though she couldn’t save her own.

The Year of Kat, a literary fiction novel, embraces the mystical nature of the desert and the Native Americans who claim it as their own. There is magic in the harsh seasons of the land and there is healing in the teachings of the people, the Diné. I live in the southwestern desert and understand its incredible power to transform a life. This novel, at just over 90,000 words, was written during my time in the Stanford Continuing Studies master’s level Online Writing Certificate program. Over the years, I’ve written several short stories and have won flash fiction contests. I have a successful blog, Live It Out Loud, that celebrates something daily. And  my work was also published by the Los Angeles Times as part of their Birds of Paradise collaborative novel. I currently spend every day writing about people’s lives, their personal demons, diving headlong into the magic and mystery present in each of us.