Back in Issue 3 Lucy Clarke told us about her new book, The Sea Sisters, and her love for travel and how it inspires her writing. We caught up with her again to see where life has taken her over the last couple of years and to find out about her new book which will be based in Tasmania.
“Where are you now?”
Since my first novel, The Sea Sisters, was released in 2013, I’ve now written two further novels, which have been published in more than a dozen countries, including America, Canada, Brazil, France, Holland, Germany and Norway.
My second novel, A Single Breath, is set on a remote and wildly beautiful island off the coast of Tasmania. It is the story of a recently widowed young woman, who travels to Tasmania to meet her late-husband’s estranged family. But, isolated on the shores of the island, she begins to uncover disturbing details about her husband.
I had a wonderful time researching the setting for A Single Breath. I spent a month doing a recce of the island, working out where specific events in the novel would take place, as well as interviewing locals, marine biologists and free-divers. I also learnt to scuba dive in Tasmania, which gave me a beautiful insight into the underwater world, and helped me write the free diving scenes within the novel. I also learnt how to how to shuck an oyster, hook a squid, and dive through a kelp forest!
My most recent novel, The Blue, is about best friends, Lana and Kitty, who are backpacking in the Philippines when they discover a beautiful yacht manned by a group of wanderers. They’re invited to join the crew and quickly slip into an idyllic routine of sailing and snorkelling around isolated islands. But, when one of the crew disappears overboard on a passage to Palau, paradise quickly turns sinister.
The inspiration for The Blue came from a trip I made a few years ago, when I spent a week on board a yacht with my best friend and her extended family. Having never sailed before, it was an incredible experience to spend day and night on the water, to eat our meals on deck, to anchor in deserted lagoons, to fall asleep to the sound of waves. But what stayed with me after the trip was how interesting dynamics can be when you’re confined to the small space of a yacht, as emotions become heightened and events can quickly escalate. By the end of that trip, I knew that one day I’d set a novel on board a yacht.
Alongside writing, I’ve also become a mummy! We now have a wonderful, wild-haired little sprite called Tommy, to share our adventures with. One of the very first things we did as new parents was to apply for his first passport. My husband, Tommy and I have just returned from a month in Sri Lanka – where I was researching for the next book.
What has been your favourite adventure since we last spoke to you?
I absolutely fell in love with Sri Lanka. I think for me the highlights included taking the rambling slow train through the hill country and tea plantations, and hiking through the rainforest in the Sinharaja Reserve.
What was the most challenging time of your travels?
In Sri Lanka I contracted a bacterial infection from the water, which meant I was laid up in bed for a week. There’s absolutely nothing fun about being sick when you’re away from home!
Are you still based near Bournemouth or are you mostly travelling?
Yes, we live on the coast near Bournemouth. We spend our winters travelling, and our summers at our family beach hut, which is a few minutes cycle from our family home.
It’s great to have your experience of spending the winters away for travelling and inspiration, what advice would you give GGI’s who want to do a similar time out?
Someone wise once said: ‘Write a date on your dream – and then it becomes a plan.’
What have you learnt as a GGI that has helped you in life, and your writing?
Through travelling I’ve learned that there are so many different ways to live your life. It’s so important to choose the path that suits you – not necessarily the one that everyone else is taking.
In terms of travelling inspiring my writing, my strongest influence when I approach a new novel is always place. I like to set my novels in a place – or places – that excite and inspire me. Being a lover of the coast, perhaps that’s why the sea plays such a large role in all of my novels to date.
Another element I’m also fascinated by is the shift in characters when they are removed from an environment they know intimately, and displaced somewhere foreign. I enjoy seeing how they react, whether they flourish or flounder in that new space – and ultimately, how the experience changes them.
Keep up-to-date with Lucy’s GGI life: