Sunday, March 10, 2013

Blog Tour: Swimming at Night + Q&A

Have you ever a novel that just floors you at the end of it? Swimming at Night by Lucy Clarke was one of those books for me. And I mean this in the best possible way. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it.

Here's the synopsis:
A young woman travels the globe to retrace the final months of her sister's life in search of answers about her death in this dark, gripping debut novel of family, secrets, and loss.
Katie's world is shattered by the news that her headstrong and bohemian younger sister, Mia, has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff in Bali. The authorities say that Mia had jumped—that her death was a suicide.
Although they hadn't spoken to one another since Mia suddenly left on an around-the-world trip six months earlier, Katie refuses to accept that her sister would have taken her own life. Distraught that they never made peace, Katie leaves behind her orderly, sheltered life in London and embarks on a journey to find out the truth. With only the entries of Mia's tattered travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister's life, and—page by page, country by country—begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death…
This novel ripped by heart out. I know that's not usually a positive thing but it was when it came to this book. I was so invested in Katie and Mia's world and wished for a way for everything to work out well. It couldn't, of course, because we know right from the get go that Mia is dead. Nothing can change that. What could change is what we know about the circumstances surrounding her death. Thinking back, I'm not sure if any answer would have made things better. There were really only three options - it was suicide, an accident, or a murder. Not very positive, is it? I wish I had someone to talk to after finishing this book because the end had me reeling. I actually finished it on the train ride home and I'm fairly certain I said, "Woah," out loud! It was a fitting ending for such a powerful and emotional story.

What made this story hit even harder was that we read both sister's perspectives. I think this was done well as it would have been hard to know things about Mia before Katie did. There weren't any duplications of stories, just details filled in.

The other thing I loved about this book was reading about Katie's journey. She needed to find the part of herself that was like Mia. I think, if she hadn't, her life would have carried on as it was and she would have been immensely unhappy. While the ending is a bit ambiguous, I like to think that Katie got her happily ever after, man and all.

I think Swimming at Night by Lucy Clarke is a must read novel for fiction lovers. I don't always read novels that are this heavy but I am so so so glad I gave this one a try. I suspect that you'll relate to (and therefore be more affected by) this story if you have a sister, like I do. Check this one out - and then let me know what you think of the ending! I'm here to help you through the "Oh my god" moments!

I hope you enjoyed the review. Onto the Q&A!

Dear Kaley,
Thanks so much for your interesting questions – and please find below my responses. Books Etc. is a fresh and exciting blog and I really look forward to being included within it.
All best wishes
Lucy Clarke

Books Etc. - How did you come up with the idea for Swimming at Night?
Lucy Clarke - The idea that sparked Swimming At Night came from my fascination with travel journals. I love the colourful places they’ve been written, the pages thick with smears of sunscreen and grains of sand. Whenever I travel, I keep a journal and I’ve often thought how intriguing and tempting it must be to read someone else’s travel journal. What an insight it would give you into who they are. With this in mind, I asked myself two questions that were to be the fuel for the story:Who could the travel journal belong to? And, who finds it and why? From there, the relationship between sisters Katie and Mia was born.

BE - What is your writing process like?
Lucy Clarke
Credit: James Bowden
LC - A typical writing day for me means getting up early. I’m a morning person, so I set my alarm at 6 am and get straight to my desk. I’m hopeless by evening – it’s as if my creativity fades with the day. I generally write Monday to Friday, so that I have evenings and weekends free to spend with friends and family. Being a full-time novelist is a luxury I’m still getting used to because, until recently, writing had to be fitted around running a business.
I prefer to write by hand – there’s something about the simplicity of a pencil and a blank page that appeals to the romantic in me. I always have a notebook stuffed in my handbag so it means I can jot down ideas wherever I am. I love to write to music, too. There are certain albums I play to help me step into a character’s mindset, or to inspire a particular atmosphere in a scene.
I also take lots of tea and chocolate breaks, and usually a longer break in the middle of the day where I try and get outdoors, whatever the weather.
My biggest distraction is sunshine – I can’t focus if I’m indoors and the sun is shining, so I often decamp to the beach on my bike and then I’m focused once again!

BE - What made you want to write a novel?
LC - It wasn’t so much a case of something or someone inspiring me to write a novel, rather it was a desire within me that took time to find. I always assumed I’d have a career in business and I pushed aside all the signals that I’d perhaps make a good writer: I’ve always kept diaries and journals; I read voraciously; I studied English Literature at university; I’m at my happiest with a notebook and pen in my hand. 
I was about 24 when I realized that I’d love to be a novelist. Then there was the small matter of actually doing it. Like most people, I had to work to support myself whilst trying to make it happen, so I set up a small business delivering events in schools, which afforded me both an income, but also a flexible schedule so I could always make time to write. It took me until I was 30 to sign my first book deal. I sold my business and am grateful daily for the luxury of now being a full-time novelist.

BE - What do you like to do when you're not writing?
LC - Travelling, windsurfing, paddleboarding, hiking, camping, reading, hanging out with friends, dancing, and eating good food.

BE - What can we expect from you in the future?
LC - I’m just finishing my second book, which is set on a beautiful, rugged island off the coast of Tasmania. The story is based around a young woman who has been recently widowed. She travels to meet her late-husband’s family, but begins to discover that the man she married wasn’t who she thought he was. I can’t say too much more just yet, other than expect plenty of twists and turns!

One final thing: Lucy will also be taking part in an online book club Twitter chat about Swimming at Night on April 10th at 6:30pm. You can find out all the details of the chat by following @BookaliciousCA or on Wanda’s blog This is a great opportunity to discuss the book with the author!

About the Author
Lucy Clarke has a degree in English Literature. She and her husband, a professional windsurfer, spend their winters traveling and their summers at their home on the south coast of England. Visit

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Canada, in exchange for an honest review.*

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I was sitting on the fence about reading this one, but you've convinced me to give it a go. Thanks.


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