greetings from st helena shona kaye

Greetings from the other side of the world!


I’m writing this from St Helena: a beautiful little dust-speck of an island in the South Atlantic, my birthplace and (not coincidentally) the setting for my first book, Blood’s Veil


Ain’t it pretty?


shona moyce st helena
Image © Shona Kaye


Epic views aside, when I said back in February 2018 that posts would ‘be sporadic‘, I’m fairly certain a year-long absence—from this blog and from UK life—was not what I had in mind at the time. Yet, I find myself still here on the island—back at home after fourteen years—in a new job and a new relationship… I won’t bore anyone with the details—you’re welcome!—but let’s just say if that last post in 2018 was a cliffhanger at the end of a book or movie, the (slightly dodgy) sequel features an all-new cast of characters, a completely different setting, and a haphazard mishmash of inexplicable (and let’s be real, at times, downright crazy) events. Quite frankly, even I have no real clue what’s been happening half the time.


Life sure knows how to knock you on your ass when you’re already confused about which way is up.


At the time, if a single person had so much as whispered the words ‘silver lining’ or ‘everything happens for a reason’ or [insert irritatingly optimistic outlook here], I’d have likely bopped them on the nose—and then some.


Honestly, though… they’d have been right.


As annoying as it is for a cynic like myself to admit, sometimes, things really must get worse before they get better, and enduring the first few months of hell back here on St Helena has proven to be more than worth it. It isn’t always ideal, it’s never perfect, and there are still days when life is nothing but a big confuddling mess. 


But… right now, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.


It brings this quote to mind from Irish novelist, George Moore:


A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.


Until next time, here are a few photos from the last year on St Helena, including a couple of snapshots from the signing at St Helena’s public library last year. 



shona moyce st helena author


shona moyce st helena

shona moyce st helena





shona moyce st helena
Image © Shona Kaye


shona moyce st helena
Image © Shona Kaye


shona moyce st helena
Image © Shona Kaye



Up next…



  • A whole heap of book reviews for the hefty chunk of my TBR list, including Stardust and American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Half Bad and Half Wild by Sally Green, Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, and The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.


  • All-new blog posts, the first of which will include topics such as the link between creativity and mental illness, BS facts about writing, and on a more lighthearted note, more listicles (yay!) including the top ten polarising books and best-loved (and most hated) tropes. 

If you’re new to the blog, you can check out the archives here:


Tips, tricks, resources, sob stories… battles with procrastination… intriguing, right?


Everything bookish from characters and tropes to book faves, raves, and rants.



Embrace the world of fiction as much as you like, but sooner or later pesky real life beckons. More’s the pity, sometimes.


you can't go home again


‘You can’t go home again.’

Of course, he meant that time and change doesn’t allow for such nostalgia… but nevertheless, Mr Wolfe (you bloody know-it-all) we ARE going home… again. We are moving back to St Helena. In just a few days we will have (hopefully) packed up and will be boarding a flight to leave England for an unknown amount of time and let it be known that I’ve bounced back and forth between sorrow and excitement and sheer bloody panic more times than either Gary or I can count.

But we ARE doing this. Together.

Some days I still find it hard to believe I’m married. Like any relationship, you stumble through the mundanity of daily life, you ride out the drama, and you continue hoping that the good will always outweigh the bad. It’s give-and-take, and not always in equal measure but you know that if there’s anyone that will get you from one day to the next, it’s this person. (Or Damon Salvatore.) Ups and downs are inevitable but somehow you stay committed and with every struggle you overcome, that once-delicate, rosy love between the two of you, solidifies into the very foundation you find yourself standing upon.

And yet, nothing tests the tether between two people more than grief. If you’ve ever lost someone you love, know this: watching someone you love slowly lose their loved one is, at least in my experience, fifty times harder.

Your gut instinct is to try and fix whatever’s broken but sometimes, like now, it’s all completely out of your control, and all you can do is watch and wait and try not to say anything too stupid.

I’ll admit: I struggled with my decision. It should have been a no-brainer. Of course, I should support my husband. But honestly, if this was a human decency test, I’ll admit that I was initially heading for failure. I was reluctant to leave this place. I’ve been here for fourteen years, my immediate family are here, my fur baby is here, and both my writing ventures and studies are linked to here. I miss St Helena all the time and when we visited last year, there were aspects of that trip I could never replace—seeing old friends, reuniting with family, beholding those epic fucking views I’ve yet to find anywhere else—but holidays are entirely different from uprooting and relocating, and the last time I lived and worked on St Helena, I was eighteen. EIGHTEEN!

You’d be surprised what kind of dilemmas your brain will conjure up mid-panic.

What if we don’t like it? What if we can’t adjust? Cockroaches have it in for me. Unlimited broadband doesn’t exist! What if I miss the British weather too much? (Lol JK.)

When all was said and done though, the one and only real question I had to ask myself was this: is all of that more important than what my husband needs right now? And the answer, obviously, is no.


It will begin with sorrow and grief but maybe it won’t have to end that way. Maybe we will settle on St Helena or maybe, we’ll return. Either way, sometimes life isn’t about knowing which choice is right or wrong but rather, knowing which choice you are able to live with. And whilst we get our shit together and overcome whatever lemons life throws in our faces, we can take comfort in the fact that as always, we have each other… and this view…

st helena view

Image by Shona Kaye (2017)

P.S. Blog updates will remain sporadic until we’re settled. But my fingers are still firmly crossed for a 2018 release of Immisceo: Undone.

Wishful thinking, perhaps? We’ll see…

letter to my younger self shona kaye


Hello, Past Me.

It’s hard, isn’t it?

Life. Growing up. Discovering so many versions of yourself that you cannot fathom who you actually are.

So, you took the easy route and have begun to reflect what you believe people want to see in you but these versions conflict with one another. They rub up against each other like pieces of flint and we all know what happens then.

You want—so badly—to fit in, to measure up, to be loved and like a chameleon, you change your outer self to suit your present environment, your present company, your present need.

Stop it.

If you sit still long enough, if you pause for just a moment and take a time-out from the chaos of your next romantic adventure or the next dose of peer pressure or this week’s round of rebellion, you’ll figure it out. Amidst all the many masks and guises you’ve fashioned, you’ll find you in there somewhere.

But you’re not in the business of listening, are you? So bent are you on independence and free will, that you feel if something isn’t your idea, then it isn’t worth doing.

You’re wrong. 

But you’ll have plenty of time to realise this and you will.

You’ll wake up one day and not recognise yourself. And everything you perceive as hard will get that much harder, become that much more difficult to make sense of. You’ll begin to fear what’s ahead of you.

Don’t be afraid.

Face it. Charge headlong into what scares you.

Except I don’t really need to tell you that because this is what you’ll do. You’ll spend so long in what seems to be a perpetual state of confusion, that by the time fear beckons at your door, the certainty of it will be the very thing that beguiles you. And when you face it, when you finally discover what drives you, what matters to you above all else—and you will, as unbelievable as it seems now—everything will fall into place.

That’s not to say it will be easy. When we say things fall into place, it isn’t meant to be taken literally. ‘Nothing worth having is ever easy.’  The things you desire will not land in your lap but finding out what you desire and owning that desire is the first step to building it for yourself.

Have patience and be strong.

Every hardship you are yet to face—heartbreak, abuse, loss, mental illness—will build the very person you’re to become. It will feel as though the opposite is happening, of course. As if with every ounce of adversity, you’re being chipped away, one piece at a time. But know this:

You’ll get through it.

Despite feeling weak, you will somehow find the strength to keep standing, and the pain you feel will give you insight and understanding. It sounds like a steep price—and it is—but without it, you would not have half as much self-awareness or empathy or compassion. You would never know the breadth of what you’re truly capable of; maybe you never will.

Maybe we all spend our lives thinking we know how far we can be pushed while underestimating our resilience. When things get rough—and they will because that’s the way things are—remember this:


You are resilient. You can withstand the storm. The sun will shine again.


letter to my younger self shona kaye
Photo by Lori M. Sousa on Unsplash
seven things I wish I'd known when I was younger shona kaye

Life is full of lessons. Unfortunately, there’s no handbook. And let’s be real: even if there was one, we probably wouldn’t read it. We’d struggle along anyway, convinced that we know the ins and outs without the need for instructions, setting up our lives like it’s nothing more than a bookshelf from IKEA. Still, there are a few lessons I wish I’d been privy to. It would have saved me time. It would have saved me all those years ‘in the trenches’ with nothing but my self-doubt for company. 

Here are seven things I wish I’d known when I was younger.


1. Take Chances

There are a million reasons not to try. You could fill a stadium with those reasons: What if it’s the wrong decision? What if you’re not good enough? What if you fail? If you never try, that’s the same as failure. Success is rooted in taking chances. Don’t wait for permission. You may not get it—nor do you need it.


2. Don’t Wait

It’s easy to put off doing the things you want to do simply out of complacency. Don’t wait until you’re ready. You’ll never be ready. Ready is a perpetually mythical state of being, much like the notion of ‘One day…’ It simply doesn’t exist. There’s only now.


3. Do the Work

How many times have you told yourself ‘I really want to XYZ, if only I had the time/skills/money/[insert excuse here]’? It’s a hard lesson to learn but despite the reasons we concoct for ourselves—often so legitimately constructed that we start to believe them—the only thing holding us back is ourselves. If you’ve got something you want to do, do it. Don’t invent obstacles. Instead, take steps to get to where you want to be. Inspiration won’t show up unless you do. Dreams won’t work unless you do. Do the work.


4. Don’t Live According to Someone Else

Family, friends, and society in general, all have an ideal when it comes to how we should be living. There is no shortage of expectations—and if/when you go against the grain, be prepared for some major backlash and guilt. But do it anyway. If you want something that is seen to be outside of the norms, this response is inevitable. Just remember: no one else can or should determine what you do with your time or your life. Live according to your wants and needs and let other people’s opinions take a backseat.


5. Don’t Let Fear Dictate

Fear of failure or even (mind-blowingly) fear of success can cripple you. Don’t let it. Acknowledge the fact that fear is an absolutely routine factor when undertaking something new. Be afraid—but don’t let it stop you; let it challenge you.


6. Embrace Change

Changes are inevitable. Don’t fight them. Changes—be it changes within yourself or someone close to you, or even changes in your circumstances—can leave you feeling lost or have you hankering for the past like a nostalgic dreamer. The past is gone. It’s okay to open yourself to new interests and new people. Treasure your old memories but allow yourself to make new ones.


7. Acknowledge Your Differences

It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be the odd one out. From an early age, we’re programmed with the need to ‘fit in’. With adulthood comes a liberating sense of self that can override that need. Embrace who you are and nurture your individuality. Carve your own path.

just write shona kaye

This post was written around the time I decided to take writing seriously. Before that, blogging to me was nothing more than journaling. Writing was no more than a hobby and a pipe-dream. I continue to keep this post as a reminder to myself to keep going. I should also clarify that the title ‘don’t dream, just write’ is merely emphasising the need for action.  By no means should you or I ever give up the dream, whatever that dream may be.

Hello, Internet Diary of sorts… you trusty, patient fool, you! 

I only just went and broke the record for the longest waiting time ever between the first date and the ever-elusive callback—and you’re still bloody here! Brownie points for you, my friend. In total, it’s been about seven years now, since I first met you, and told you my name. Hell, I still had the name of my youth then… come to think of it, I still had youth itself back then and all. 2008… *looks wistfully into space* 

So—did you bloody miss me?

No, no you didn’t, did you? 

Ah, well. Let’s not hold grudges. I didn’t exactly keep my end of the deal, did I? See—the thing is: I had really good intentions and a really well-nursed dream, and I thought to myself: all I need to do is set this shit up, whack a few bells on this baby, and just like that, things will fall into place. It’s the perfect plan, I thought to myself like a smug twit. 

So… I sit myself down in front of my lovely white page, on my lovely standard template, and I sit and sit, and think and think, and my head is suddenly filled with sand—and the blank page looks a brighter shade of white the more I stare at it, and slowly, I start to realise:

I have no fucking idea what I’m doing!

Obviously, you can see just how well-adjusted I am, since it took me about six years to recover my writing mojo after that.

Of course, as you well know, Internet, I came back last October—and did little more than copy and paste pretty much every single book review I’ve ever done on Goodreads in those last six years. If I’m being honest—in the dating world, that would equate to what?—a few late-night booty calls maybe… at best… *sigh*

It’s not so much that the idea of an audience scared me since as an aspiring author I fantasise about this on a regular, if not daily basis—it’s just that everything I’ve written has been gathering virtual dust for years—yes, even MORE years than these last six slash seven—and when that dusty, old crap does see the light of day it’s usually so I can wrangle with it, draft some more—edit and revise until my eyes start to bleed and my sanity is at breaking point. 

THIS jiggery-bloggery on the other hand… this is different. This is odd. For the love of all that is good and chocolatey, I haven’t got a clue what I’m MEANT to be doing, let alone actually getting started on doing it!

What do I write about?—do I stick to my ‘field’, or do I be more personal? How should I write it? Should I be myself, and be open and engaging—or should I edit it to death, and try for professionalism? [Pah! Perish the thought!]

I don’t know where to draw the line on the bloodied-eyes scenario, and I struggle with the concept of that fine line between being myself and trying to keep it professional. Obviously, I should probably keep SOME cans of worms firmly shut, because quite frankly, some of that shit is just plain scary; yet, that which scares us is usually the very thing worth writing about. I guess I just need to find some balance, and sheer nerve… and I need to start thinking less about the ‘correct’ way to do this, and just bloody DO IT. 

So here I am. I’m here and I’m staying and I’m writing. 

Sometimes I’ll post serious topics because I do actually have a brain, contrary to everything this post suggests; and sometimes I’ll post crap, and if you don’t like it, people of Internet Land, I’ll just have to suck it up, won’t I? Because I’m a writer. And writers edit, and then they edit, and edit, and edit some more, until they suck a bit less, and dammit, if nothing else, this will be good development for that thick writerly skin everyone is always talking about.  

All of this, of course, is really only relevant on the off-chance that this blog ever generates interest in which case, if it doesn’t, the only real concern here is the fact that I’m about to cut a large chunk out of my time each week to ‘talk’ to myself.

Ah well, what’s one more step on the path to glorious insanity?

Overall, I would just like to say, Internet: I am sorry to have been a plonker and a chicken-shit of the highest order, but I am back now, and I’m about to be a brilliantly delightful, UNSMUG twit (yep, still a twit), and my dream: now pulled out from under the bed—watered, fed, dusted, given an enema, etc—we are doing this thing! IN REAL LIFE this time, dammit!

Incidentally, prepare yourself—

Cans… opening…



depression shona kaye


I’m at the edge again. That place you find yourself after battling with something larger than life to the point of giving in, lying back, and thinking: Do your worst, fucker. I’ve been there before—several times—more often than any of my closest friends may know, more than the busy-bodies from a small community can begin to fathom; hell—more than I can even admit to myself most days.

I hide from it; run from it. Running is my middle name. Always has been. (Not really, my middle name is Kaye with an ‘e’, and the only time you’d see me run is if I was on fire, which is the exact opposite of what someone who is on fire should actually do.)

At times like this, it’s so easy to feel like you have no one. In the middle of the night when you can’t stop crying, and can’t stop thinking and rehashing and obsessing, and you can’t sleep, and can’t relax—or by chance, you can sleep, but the nightmares come—everything else is so quiet that you want to scream just to make sure you didn’t go deaf, then, it feels like you’re alone.

At times like this, I feel like I’m losing it, (Yes, I said it, and I don’t care!) It truly feels like you’re losing the actual plot, and there’s no one left who can help you any more than they have done already. It doesn’t really get better, and it doesn’t go away. It merely hides for a while, and then jumps out and takes you hostage when you least expect it. 


Except now I know to expect it. Which is (almost) worse. Every good day I have is tinged with the threat of a bursting overhead cloud-of-crap. Like Grumpy Bear—only more suicidal—and a lot messier.

‘There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to it. Some days you’re floating along quite happily, being really good at doing this living thing, when apropos of nothing you’re picked up like a rag doll and shaken, and you don’t know who’s picked you up and you don’t know why they’re shaking you or when they’re going to put you down or even if they’re going to put you down. You just know that you’re being shaken, and it’s awful, and you would do anything for it to stop but it just won’t stop. You wonder to yourself whether maybe this is it, this is the time it doesn’t stop and you keep being shaken about until it’s too much and you make yourself a little rag doll noose and end your little rag doll life. It feels like it’s never going to stop, they’re never going to put you down again, and you can’t think or feel anything but pain, and it hurts all over and you’re stuck in bed and immobile but on the inside, it’s like your entire mind is made of barbed wire and every single mental move you make rips open another gash in your already torn-up body.  And then it stops. You’re dropped bodily onto the ground, and you feel like maybe living life is tenable again. It’s such a wonderful relief that it merits opening an entire paragraph with a connective, and you look back on that whole period you were being shaken and wonder what on earth all the fuss was about. Surely it can’t have been that bad? Five minutes into living again, you can’t remember why you were sad, and you can’t imagine it happening again any time soon. You go on your merry way, your myopia for the past the only thing preventing you from looking back and going truly insane.  Then, when you least expect it (because it’s always when you least expect it), it happens again, maybe for a reason this time. But it’s never completely gone. Even when you’re living a normal life, pretending to be a functioning human being who can Deal With Things, there’s this sheen over everything which takes away all of the world’s gloss.’

 Tim Squirrell on Depression

 Huffington Post

This is what it’s like on the edge. 

The Edge has almost become an actual place for me. A low, seedy little dive bar that no-one really likes to admit they’ve been to. I’m a regular. I’m the one in the corner, replaying the same pitiful song on a battered, old jukebox, between knocking back cheap whiskey and staggering off to pee. 

“There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

Hunter S. Thompson

The sad reality of it all, during these times, is that I make myself a prisoner in my own house, trying and failing to distract myself, occupy myself… something, anything, to shake the fluctuating tides of numbness and pain. Sleeping is too difficult, yet getting out of bed is equally as difficult. Talking is too difficult, and the mere sound of someone else’s voice on top of the cacophony in my head is enough to make me cry and squirm like a cowering animal. Sometimes, I cry endlessly. Sometimes, I zone out. Sometimes I lock myself away with books, despite knowing that when it’s really bad, it’s too difficult to even read; the words on the page are nothing more than shapes and squiggles, and I give up after re-reading the same paragraph seventeen times over. Other times, I’m able to use books and movies and games to escape—so I do—and I ask not to be disturbed. Or I freak out when I am disturbed. 

Needless to say: my partner is a saint—an actual fucking saint—which is a good bloody thing, since both life at The Edge, and living with someone who frequently visits The Edge, is no picnic. 

Sometimes, when I visit, I don’t want to leave; I have to be dragged out kicking and screaming, and on very bad benders, I’m brought back slumped like a sack of potatoes over an unfortunate shoulder. When I’m there, it is as though the Real Me has truly gone to die along with three buckets of over-medicated sweat, and eighteen badly-sung choruses of ‘Things Can Only Get Better‘. When I come back to the real world, the land of the living, I can almost pretend it didn’t happen. It’s written off like a blip. I apologise as necessary, I bundle my guilt into a creaking, overstuffed closet, and everybody tries to move on.

No-one wants to talk about The Edge… and that’s where it all goes wrong. It really is. There should be a fucking rule:

Everyone should talk about it. 

I have depression.


I don’t expect sympathy. Hell, I don’t even expect understanding. What I’d really like, though, is acceptance, and tolerance. 

Not just for me—hell, no. I want this for every sufferer, for every family member and friend of every sufferer; the feeling of being able to talk about exactly how you feel without judgement, and without having had to make a bloody appointment with a health professional to do so. To be able to discuss it as freely as people discuss the common cold—wouldn’t that be bloody fantastic. Not that I’m in the habit of harping on about common colds, just so you know. It’s more about the misconceptions of mental illness. It’s almost taboo… Mental health has come a long way, sure, but that god-awful stigma is still there. The whispers, the derisory comments… the blatant disrespect, even disbelief:

‘Maybe she’s making it up?’

‘Maybe he’s just lazy…’

‘There’s no such thing as depression…’

‘Pull yourself together!’

‘I get depressed all the time—I still ‘get on with it’.’

These things, small as they may seem to an outsider, a bystander—a non-sufferer—can become very crippling. It makes you feel small and ashamed, even more so than the depression itself has made you feel. It makes you want to do one of two things: hide away from the world, or put on that ‘brave face’, and pretend that it’s all okay

Depression - Black Dog
Illustration from ‘I Had a Black Dog’ by Matthew Johnstone

The trouble is, with depression, isolation is the enemy, and quite frankly, putting on the brave face is quite likely the very thing that escalated the illness in the first place. Whatever your trigger—whether this was a physical trigger or a traumatic event, a bereavement, an overwhelmingly stressful situation, all of the above, none of the above—an altogether different experience that became the catalyst for the downward spiral of depression and anxiety—putting a brave face on it, and smiling through the pain, and striving on, forward-march, hoping that if you cover it up with that mask long enough, it’ll fuck off on its own…. exactly that, is what doesn’t help.

I know this because it’s exactly what I did. It’s what I went through; it’s what I’m going through, still. Yet, instead of being able to talk about it in the same way others can discuss their illnesses with no fear of judgement, I bottled it up. I have yet to meet someone with similar struggles as those I have, who hasn’t felt this way.

Depression is a very real thing, a very real illness, and yet in some form or another, there’s a wall of idiots prepared to tell you otherwise. Imagine a person with a broken leg being told to ‘pull himself together’: ‘Don’t be a moron! You’re making that up! Your leg isn’t broken. Now—WALK.’

Nope. Never happened, and not likely to happen. 

So, this is my stand. Right here, on my public blog (with a readership of two… sister; cat; (and I’m pretty sure the cat pretends to read it)), I am making a stand.

I am standing on my fucking soapbox like an imbecile, and saying it aloud: 

I have depression. It is an illness. I will not be ashamed.

Sure, it won’t solve the problem, and it won’t change the world’s opinion, but just maybe, it might change my outlook. Affirmations can be powerful. So I’m doing this for me, and maybe the next person who reads this (other than the aforementioned sister/cat), will feel inclined to make the same personal commitment and—

To everyone who has a similar battle, be proud.

Yes, proud. We have just made it through another day, and we’re still fucking here. Still fucking miserable… but hey, tomorrow is another day.

So here’s to tomorrow—bright and breezy, full of partially fake smiles and occasional sarcasm. And if you’re lucky… a small handful of wonderful people at your side who love you exactly as you are. Black dog‘, and all. 🙂


Welcome to the Thirties Club. Here are a few pointers.

I’m turning 31 in a few weeks. After nearly a year of this ‘Flirty Thirty’ charade, here are my two cents pence.  


3 Things you’ll miss when you’re 30

1. Your 20s

Obviously. You’ll look at those ‘crazy kids’ with (mature, dignified, adult) annoyance, yet secretly, you’ll yearn, with something akin to nostalgia, for those reckless, carefree days. You’ll know you’ve reached this point when several conversations start with sentences such as: ‘When I was young…’, and ‘Back in my day…’


2. Getting ID’d

Okay, so for the blessed amongst us, this may or may not be true. Perhaps you’re still having to flash your ID at bouncers or the nice lady at the Co-Op. For us regular folk, this occurrence has dwindled at an alarming rate since the age of 24, and whilst I hate to be the bringer of bad news and whatnot, it is highly unlikely that it will ever happen again, now that you’ve reached your third decade. Never mind—in three more decades, you’ll get to flash your very own bus pass.


3. Freedom

You’ve been free all your life, I’m sure—not necessarily free from the restraints of modern society perhaps, but let’s be glad that you’re not (one assumes) in prison. That said, when you turn 30, you will, without knowing why, feel those social restraints tighten a little more. It’s not that you can’t do the things you did in your 20s, but if and when you do behave like a devil-may-care, brazen-faced flirt on a Saturday night (or a Tuesday night for that matter), you feel as though everyone in the room ‘expected more’ of you because you’re neither a) a teenager in ‘discovery mode’, nor b) a twenty-something fun-freak making the most of your youth. You’re 30. It’s a slap in the face with the cold, wet fish of reality. Ah well, at least you’re prepared, and just in case your restraints become a little snug in the future too, it’d do well to note: they loosen up nicely with the right amount of alcohol.


Besides, it’s not all doom and gloom ahead… 

3 Things to look forward to when you’re 30

1. Cake

It’s your birthday! Of course you’ll have cake. That’s a rule, it might even be the law.


2. Hangovers

I’m not talking about the kind you’re used to; the kind you get pre-30. No, this hangover is the mother of all head-popping, projectile-vomiting, liver-shrivelling, oh-lord-I-think-I-might-be-dying morning-after experiences. Pre-30, you boast the coveted talent of drinking ’til you drop, only to resume partying in a few hours, with a full day’s work thrown in the mix. You handle your drink—you’re no lightweight, you’ve got stamina—a right little party animal. Post-30, you’re lucky if, after a full-on night out, you can haul yourself out of your bed of pain without doing yourself a mischief—and two days later you’re still recovering. If you’re really lucky, like me, this post-30 hangover will hit when you’re 27, cos I’m über-advanced and clever like that.


3. Wisdom

It is common knowledge that all humans are supposed to become wiser with age. If thirty years worth of mistakes and trials have brought you no reward thus far, fear not; reaching the grand milestone of 30 will have you reaping benefits. The amount of wisdom will however depend quite a bit on how much of the stuff you had to begin with, and how well you apply it. I can’t help you there—I’ve had the majority of my wisdom removed via excruciating dental treatment. What’s everyone else’s excuse? Still, this gives me, and anyone else who missed out on this batch, something to look forward to when we reach 40, since you get a wisdom top-up then, too, apparently.


What things do you miss the most, now that you’re 30 or over? Or if you’re under 30 (you jammy bastard!), what do you think you will eventually miss the most?

On a happier note, what’s the best thing about it?

bucket list shona kaye

Alternative title: All the crap I want to do before I kick the bucket. 

Updated May 2020

Personal goals 

  • Accept all aspects of myself; be open to change.
  • Establish healthy boundaries and respect the boundaries of others.
  • Be a better version of myself.
  • Kick depression‘s ass.
  • Make a difference somehow.
  • Keep on making a difference. See things through. Be fearless.
  • Moderation.
  • Identify 100 things that make me happy.
  • Learn to forgive.
  • Stop following the ideals and plans of others if they don’t work for me
  • Find out more about my ancestors/heritage/family tree 
  • Build some savings 
  • Pay off my loan 
  • Clear credit card debt
  • Set up a home 
  • Write a letter to my past self about all the lessons I’m still learning.
  • Write a letter to my younger self
  • Set aside time for the things that matter to me: reading, writing, relationships, introverting. 🙂

bucket list shona kaye

Discover & Learn

bucket list shona kaye

  • Visit the British Museum.
  • Take an art class.
  • Learn to play chess.
  • Learn sign language.
  • See a tiger up close.
  • Swim with dolphins.
  • Learn to play a new instrument.
  • Learn a second language.
  • Learn to say ‘hello’ in 50 different languages.
  • See a legendary musician.
  • Explore past life regression. Not kidding.
  • Get a palm reading.
  • Take a salsa class.
  • Attend a rock concert. Or ten.
  • Read the complete works of Shakespeare. Only a handful to go. LOL.
  • See a Shakespeare play at The Globe.
  • See Phantom of the Opera.
  • Volunteer or campaign. 
  • Get involved with safeguarding and awareness for victims of abuse/rape.

Professional goals 

bucket list shona kaye

  • Finish writing a novel.
  • Publish a novel. 
  • Keep writing.
  • Keep learning. Complete a degree. Don’t. My choice.
  • Make art.
  • Find a job I love.
  • Be my own boss. 
  • Own a studio for writing/art. 
  • Start a club/group (online).
  • Be part of a writing community. 
  • Try NaNoWriMo. 
  • Do an activity for charity
  • Make a living from writing. PA!
  • NYT bestseller list. Double PA!

Fun goals 

bucket list shona kaye

  • Jump into the ocean fully clothed.
  • Kiss a girl.
  • Own a herb garden.
  • Drink from a coconut.
  • Fly a kite.
  • Learn to juggle.
  • Sing at a karaoke.
  • Have a threesome.
  • Go to a drive-in movie.
  • Sleep under the stars.
  • Shower under a waterfall.
  • Ride in a hot air balloon.
  • Go paintballing.
  • Drive a quad bike.
  • Ride a motorbike.
  • Love someone I shouldn’t.
  • Ride a roller coaster.
  • Skinnydip.
  • Have sex on a beach.
  • Watch the sunrise.
  • Donate used books.
  • Quit a job I hate.
  • Fly a plane.
  • Scuba dive.
  • Plant a tree.
  • Fast for 3 days.
  • Start a collection.
  • Sew something.
  • Get a tattoo.
  • Have a spa weekend.
  • Donate blood.
  • Solve a Rubiks Cube.

Travel goals 

bucket list shona kaye

  • See the Northern Lights.
  • Go to Disney World, Florida.
  • Visit Cuba.
  • Sip Sangria in a Spanish courtyard.
  • Visit San Francisco.
  • Visit London.
  • Visit the Caribbean.
  • Set foot on all seven continents — Antarctica, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, South America, North America.
  • Live in a foreign country.
  • Go travelling for a month.
  • See the Great Barrier Reef.
  • See the Grand Canyon.
  • See the Pyramids.
  • See the Colosseum.
  • See the Taj Mahal.
  • Smoke a joint in Holland.
  • Ride a gondola in Venice.
  • Visit Stonehenge.
  • Stay on a remote island. 
  • Take a ‘love photo’ with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
  • Have an adventure — throw a dart at a map or spin a globe and point, and travel to the place marked!


bucket list shona kaye

What’s on your bucket list?





toy balloon shona kaye


There was no fall. 
Only the breaking,
Only the mess;
The shards
like glass, like ice.
Fractured pieces,
that once was whole.
Not Easter eggs,
or toy balloons,
or spinning globes —

Complete like
ripened oranges,
as round, as bright 
as Sun.

The break was slow —
so quiet,
like sock-sheathed feet,
tip-toes on sand.
No invite, no notice;
unannounced entry —
familiar stranger,
an unknown foe —
darkening doorways,
slipping in.

He gave no bow,
offered no name.
Once, I thought I knew it.
He was soundless, intent.
Path well-cut,
goal just set:
Seek and destroy,
Seek and destroy.
He left a seed.
I watered; it grew.

In full form, it towered
like Jack’s beanstalk.
Then there were two of us;
that thing and me.
I named it Doubt. Misery.
Two voices, one mind.
My mind — a shell;
that Easter egg,
Or toy balloon, 
or spinning globe.

The voices:
Mine? His?
One thin, and weak;
The other? Like hell,
like fee-fi-fo.
Clear and sharp,
slicing the hum.
You can’t, it says.
And I listen;
I stop.

That voice? The power…
It is big as air.
More certain than
the rise-fall 
at my breast.
As constant as
the blood-beat 
at my temple.
Unyielding as night;
obstinate as death. 

July 2011

lifespan of sunflowers shona kaye


The pain courses through me.
Fresh, intense,
Like the sharp edge of broken glass
taut against soft flesh.

I close my eyes and for a second,
You’re there—we’re there;
Together, happy, unknowing. 
The sunflowers you bought are still upright.

Smiling, like we are,
They sit in their vase.
Among us, a part of us—
a part of what we’ve made home.

another wave.
Reality, the ache.

And you’re gone.
We’re gone.

Not dead, but wilted;
Like your love for me.
Like those sunflowers.

May 2011