Past Lives

I kill people. I just can’t help it. There’s a running joke made by those who read my work that in pretty much every story I write somebody ends up dead. Or if not dead, dying – or dealing with death. Something deep inside me is hardwired to connect life with death, which may not be an uncommon link; but it does seem to have a profound impact on the type of fiction I write.


If you follow me on Twitter (or have recently looked me up) you may have noticed my current read: All that Remains, by Prof. Dame Sue Black.

I don’t often read non-fiction (the reasons for which could be a whole blog topic in itself) but why I chose to buy this book is rooted in my prior studies. Not many people know that I have a Msc. in Human Osteology and Paleaopathology; mainly because it’s such a long and complex degree to say and explain. But at some point during my early University career I became quite obsessed with human remains and what they can reveal about the lives lived before.

Of course, my main area of study was Ancient Egypt – a civilisation renown for their extravagant burials and need to preserve the body for the afterlife. So, I guess it’s no surprise that I demonstrated an interest in the mysteries that could be solved with the physical remnants of the body. The essential information is all there: sex, age, weight, height, health…Not only this, but there are opportunities to identify likely occupations, injuries or habits. Give me a box of disarticulated bones and I’ll be happy for a day: or at least I was during my post-graduate degree. I might still be now, given the chance to try and recollect all my knowledge.

Yet, until I started reading this book, I hadn’t before connected my fascination with my study of the deceased and my own writing tendencies. But there certainly seems to be one there. At the very least it might go some way to explain why all my poor characters end up dead or dying.

Published by Cat Lumb

Writer, Writing Coach, and Writing Workshop Facilitator

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