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Katy Hays Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Cloisters (2022)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Katy Hays
Katy Hays is an adjunct art history professor and writer in California, where she teaches rural students from Tecopa to Truckee. She holds an MA in art history from Williams College and pursued her PhD at UC Berkeley.

Since she previously worked at major art institutions, which includes SF MoMA and The Clark Art Institute, she lives with her husband and Queso (her dog) in Olympic Valley, California.

Like a lot of academics, a research rabbit hole is her happy place. However surprisingly, she found rather little existing scholarship on the subject of Renaissance tarot. And when such a thing like that happens, as a researcher, you need to just begin looking at topics that may surround or intersect the lacuna in some way shape or form, in order for you to properly set the scene. In the case of tarot, that meant turning to questions of chance (especially as they relate to card play), as well as things such as fortune, fate, and free will. Renaissance Europe, and Italy, especially, were completely obsessed with these issues, and this literature offered her more than enough material for her to work with.

Through her research, she read this wonderful book written by Mary Quinlan-McGrath, called “Influences: Art, Optics, and Astrology in the Italian Renaissance”. And in it, Mary argues that anybody with just a little power during the Renaissance (people like aristocrats, Popes, philosophers, and so on) believed that painted representations of celestial bodies could impact somebody’s horoscope.

She remembers reading Mary’s book and thinking it was the strangest book she’d ever read in her life. Since, for example, if Katy’s Mercury is in Scorpio and she’s standing under this constellation of Taurus, only standing under this painting is going to make her communication sluggish? Didn’t make sense to her, but she did wish that more of this type of content could have made its way into the novel.

Katy was aided in writing “The Cloisters” in an atmospheric way by three things. She was working on the book during COVID so while she’d visited “The Cloisters” many years prior, it was not possible for her to go and travel there as she was actually writing the novel. So to fill in the gaps a bit more, Katy relied rather heavily on Google street view, which allowed her to “walk” through Fort Tryon Park, to see the outside of the museum, and “walk” around other streets in New York.

Through her teaching work, she also knew that The Met had some incredible digital resources to support their collections. This access was critical to her actually finishing the novel. Having a playlist of Gregorian Chants helped her write the novel and make it a bit more sensory.

Katy has always been fascinated by the idea of luck. She feels that luck is a spark, a scrap of magic, and something that we cannot control, however that seems essential. In that sense, she has always considered fate and luck to be like twins, or at a bare minimum, to be like kissing cousins.

She believes, like many other people do, that free will and choice are going to remain our primary source of power, and give life the necessary meaning and shape it needs. However there is no denying that something that is outside of our control, luck, fate, and chance, even fortuna, also plays a crucial and sometimes outsized role in all of our lives.

Her favorite Tarot Card is the Wheel of Fortune, which will come as no surprise. Because it is a very lucky card. With that said, she primarily uses a classic Rider-Waite deck, and is always happy to see just about any card come up, unless it’s a sword card. It must be the suit, she figures. It just makes her too nervous.

“The Cloisters” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2022. “Ninth House” meets “The Secret History” in this sinister and atmospheric novel that follows a circle of researchers while they uncover this mysterious deck of tarot cards and some stunning secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters.

Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, and she had expected to spend her whole summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But instead she finds herself being assigned to The Cloisters, this gothic garden and museum renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.

Ann, who is desperate to escape from her painful past, is happy just to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories on the history of fortune telling. However what starts as mere academic curiosity soon turns into obsession when she finds a hidden 15th century deck of tarot cards which may just hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of seduction, power, and ambition at The Cloisters gets deadly, she gets locked in this race for answers while the line between the modern and arcane blurs.

A haunting and magical blend of different genres, “The Cloisters” is a captivating debut novel that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Readers loved this one and it took their lives over for the two whole days that it took them to read it. It’s a fish out of water story that soon turns into something a whole lot darker, and it is also nuanced in rather fascinating ways. Katy gives her readers a rich sensory experience with this atmospheric and intriguing novel by setting the novel in The Cloisters. She tells a wonderfully dark novel that is rich in characterization.

The novel starts with this overwhelming sense of dark foreboding. You can tell that bad things have happened to Ann and you can also tell that more things will happen to her.

The vibes are pretty immaculate with this novel. It’s one for the tarot girls, the hot girls, and the artsy girls. Katy’s world and her characters are so well built and combined makes for an insanely amazing debut novel.

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