Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Oxford Brookes creative writing student debuts her first novel on innovative publishing platform

Monday, 23 November 2015

death of poppy

Klara Piechocki-Brown, an MA Creative Writing student at Brookes, is crowdfunding her debut novel, The Death of Poppy Kusch, on innovative publishing platform Unbound.

Klara has been working as a writer and illustrator for 10 years. From gathering a large online following as a teenage author, to working as a screenwriter in the US and writing a weekly column for LA Cityzine, she is now halfway through a Creative Writing MA at Oxford Brookes University.

Her writing and art is preoccupied with how deliciously diverse we all are, while celebrating what makes us the same. Playful, thoughtful and sometimes dark, she shines light into murkier places with a reassuring tone. Klara identifies as both genderqueer and bisexual and is passionate about LGBT activism, especially encouraging accurate portrayals of bisexual and transgender characters in the media. Endlessly curious, Klara loves to know how things work; she particularly loves non-fiction science, psychology and history books.

It was at the start of second year of her MA when she decided to pitch her novel about a broody time traveller to Unbound. Now she’s sharing a platform with authors such as Julie Burchill, Stephen Fry, Steven Gerard and Tamsin Day-Lewis. Klara’s writing has often been compared to Angela Carter and David Lynch; rich with imagery and sometimes unsettling.

Poppy Kusch, a time travelling immigrant from the 1920s escaping scandal, lives quietly in modern day Oxford as a neonatal nurse with her family; three lovers who are also time travellers. After watching her future self die childless, Poppy pays to take part in a controversial study to artificially raise her luck in order to conceive a baby. When her family die as a result she must evade the Corporation as they try to stop her rewriting history to save them.

Unbound is both a funding platform and a publisher: the author pitches an idea and if enough readers support it, the book goes ahead. The reader helps great ideas get published, and in return receives an insight into the writing process and has their name printed as a patron in that and every subsequent edition.

“I’m equally thrilled and terrified to be doing this", says Klara. "It feels incredibly vulnerable putting my writing out there, especially campaigning to get it funded! I designed a character who is very unlike me, but you still worry that you’ll accidentally show people too much of yourself, like not realising that your skirt is tucked into your knickers. My book explores themes of grief, nostalgia and faith. It’s a look at how irresistible the past can be- especially if you had the power to step back into it instead of moving on. In my novel’s world, time travellers apply for visas to stay in the modern day, so my protagonist Poppy is a time travelling immigrant. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from current events in the UK, and I’ve really had fun mimicking the headlines that a certain newspaper would write if time travellers really were landing here!”

“While planning the book I was worried that with the state of the publishing industry these days that my book might be too high a risk (as it features an LGBT ethically non-monogamous heroine) but Unbound is enabling me to reach potential readers who want to read books that feature less traditional plots. The celebrity authors on the site have come to it for the same reason, to write the books they want to write.”

Klara also works as an illustrator, and her writing shed (her blog only available to patrons of the book) promises to be full of drawings of her characters and settings.

To become a patron of Klara’s book and help it become fully published, you can head to the book’s funding page.