Guest blogger, Kate Brown: maggots

For my final post about Fish + Chocolate, let’s talk about the final story – ‘Matryoshka’. This story really went though the wringer. I usually draft and re-draft everything I work on to varying degrees, but this particular story was re-worked and re-worked… I mean, the initial draft, for instance, is completely unrecognisable and contains different characters, themes… I mean, almost everything is different to the final version you can see in the book. As the concluding story, it was a tough one to crack. I ended up making something that I considered straightforward, and something that contrasted and concluded the previous stories in its own way. I also wanted an uplifting ending. Or at least… as uplifting as one can be in the circumstances.


I will often start a story with a single scene or image in my mind. That’s the case for ‘Matryoshka’, with the final bath scene. I’d been doodling and experimenting around a scene like that for years… I’m glad it finally found a home in this story and I was able to put it to rest!

I want to mention something about the story itself, while we’re here. It is not directly autobiographical. None of the stories in F+C are. I would say, though, that the pervading themes of loss and anger (either sparked from loss, or otherwise), are things that many people face and witness. I certainly have, and I certainly drew on those.


Whilst on the subject of the story not being directly autobiographical… it’s actually something that concerned me deeply when creating the narrative. Because the situation Maria faces is not one I have faced, I was worried I was heading into territory that I should not touch… and I was worried I might deeply upset people who had faced such events. I was worried I’d made it too simple, or too trivial, or too dramatic…

It’s still something I worry about, of course.

There was a particular topic I wanted to touch on in ‘Matryoshka’. In the story – and I don’t feel this is terribly spoilery or influency – we see Maria’s friend come and visit her to try and cheer her up and give her some friendly advice. I’m sure it varies from person to person, and situation to situation, but in my experience I have not found being told there’s some kind of time-limit in sorting oneself out to be massively beneficial…

With all her good intentions, I think Ada unwittingly contributed to Maria’s sense of a lack of control over her own life and that’s why Maria has such an extreme reaction. I’m not for one minute trying to suggest that any kind of outside help is always useless – far from it. Maria understands that Ada and her other friends are there to support her, and that was definitely invaluable to her. But I believe she needed to choose when to lean on that support.


Actually, I’m not sure Maria’s name is mentioned at any point in the story. But there it is: her name is Maria. So that makes Marie, Mary, and Maria. I actually didn’t mean anything specific by this; it just… sorta ended up that way!

Trivia! This is the second story which actually does have something autobiographical in it! When we moved in to our current place, it had been unused for a while… I think something had laid eggs in the bath-tap, since the first bath I took involved some rather unwelcome maggot guests. Eww. (I would like to say that this is not the grossest thing that has happened to me whilst taking a bath. Perhaps that’s another story, though…)

So, that’s all! Thank you for reading!

Take care, everyone! ^_^/~

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You’ve been reading the behind-the-scenes story of Fish + Chocolate exclusively on the SelfMadeHero blog. Lucky you! This is the fourth and final guest post by Kate, but you can read the the earlier posts here:

CSI: Fish + Chocolate

The Piper Man

The Cherry Tree

Fish + Chocolate by Kate Brown is published by SelfMadeHero today! If you live somewhere remote or heaven forfend… abroad, you may like to consider purchasing it from our online store, powered by the mighty Amazon. But, if you live or work near a comicshop or bookshop, we ask that you consider supporting them first as it is widely stocked.

Alternatively you can catch Kate at MCM Expo London in October or Thought Bubble Festival, Leeds in November.

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