Thank you for having me! I’m Lucy Clarke, a 33-year-old novelist, traveller, mother, and beach lover. I live on the coast in Dorset, and spend most of my time writing in a beach hut. I’ve published three novels; my first was the Richard & Judy Book Club pick, The Sea Sisters. Last year my second novel, A Single Breath, was released. This summer sees the launch of book number three: The Blue.
I am really excited about reading your new novel, The Blue (released 30th July 2015 by Harper) Can you tell us a bit more about it?
The novel is about best friends, Lana and Kitty, who escape their lives in England and journey to the Philippines. There they discover The Blue – a beautiful yacht manned by a group of wanderers. When they’re invited to join the crew they slip into an idyllic routine of sailing and snorkelling around the isolated islands of the Philippines. But as they set sail for open water, one of their crew mates disappear at sea, and the dark secrets that brought each of them aboard start to unravel.
I love the premise of story – it sounds like it’s going to be a fantastic read! What gave you the idea for the storyline?
A few years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to spend 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.
How did you go about doing the relevant research for the novel?
Firstly, I had to learn to sail. Despite having grown up by the coast, I’d never sailed. My husband and I took the RYA Competent Crew course, which covered the basics. From there I interviewed many local sailors, read plenty of books, and became addicted to reading blogs written by young women crewing on yachts. I was mindful that I didn’t want the novel to become too technical and ostracize readers who’ve never stepped foot on a yacht, so I tried to keep the sailing terminology to a minimum by describing the experiences through Lana’s point of view as a non-sailor.
The second part of my research involved spending a month in the Philippines. My husband joined me and we had great fun exploring remote islands, swimming over pristine reef, and drinking palm wine with the locals!
How long did The Blue take you to write?
It took me eighteen months, including researching and editing. In that time, I fell pregnant and had a baby – Thomas Oak – who is now eight months old 🙂
Your previous two novels have both been a huge success (I loved both!) What does it feel like to read positive reviews and hear that readers have enjoyed your books?
It’s an incredible feeling to read positive reviews – and also to hear how the book affects readers in different ways. I read every review posted on Amazon and Goodreads – even the bad ones (youch)! – and it helps connect me to my readers and give me the motivation to work harder with the next novel.
The Sea Sisters was chosen as a Richard and Judy Summer Book Club Read in 2013. How did it feel to have your debut novel chosen as one of their recommended reads?
My editor at HarperCollins FaceTime-ed me to break the news. I was actually in the Philippines at the time. My husband and I celebrated at a beach bar called Sea Slugs, drinking local rum and coke and listening to a band play. I had to keep the news confidential until Richard and Judy made their official announcement. It’s lucky I was abroad as I was grinning so much that everyone back home would’ve guessed!
No, I thought I’d have a career in business. But when I was 24, I went away travelling for six months and it gave me the space to work out what I really wanted from life. I came back knowing I wanted to be a novelist – but it took me until I was 30 to sign my first book deal. I could paper a wall with the rejection letters I received along the way, but eventually good news landed. When my agent called to say, ‘You’ve had an offer for your novel,’ my knees literally went weak with the shock.
Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
My favourite authors include Maggie O’Farrell, Tim Winton, Anita Shreve and Anne Tyler. I’ve read some absolutely brilliant books over the past year or so, and some of my favourites are: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, and The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
I’m working on my fourth novel at the moment – and am hugely excited about it! I’m at the very early stages, so I’m loathe to reveal too much at this point in case it all changes. All I’ll say for now is, this novel is set in one of my favourite places in the world…
A huge thank you to Lucy and Jamie at Harper.