Cuppa and a cake on the beach – Lucy Clarke

Oh we are very lucky indeed to have the lovely Lucy Clarke on the blog today! She’s taken time out from travelling and has invited me to visit her on her lovely beach. So, we’ve actually taking the whole affair outside today – well its a bit hot inside and well when Lucy told me about her secret beach I jumped at the chance! So here we are….. it was a bit hard carrying the tray and cake on the sand but we’ve managed it. She’s just getting settled  – oh what’s that you’ve brought Lucy? Some shortbread for later? Why thank you very much indeed. That will go down well. There’s plenty of tea in the pot so, can you just flatten that rug out a bit please? Don’t want to spill the tea. Thanks

Oh this is  a lovely setting for a cuppa and a cake!
Oh this is a lovely setting for a cuppa and a cake!

Thanks for inviting me to this gorgeous beach Lucy, I know how busy you must be. Tell you what, I’m dying to chat to you about your travels. I can’t tell you how much I’d like to try freediving and really see those sea dragons for real. It must have been quite the experience. I am an avid traveller myself so your descriptions and the details you pick up on are definitely those of someone who is fascinated with surroundings! How do you feel the location of Tasmania enhanced your story?

Thank you! I spent two months in Tasmania researching for the novel, and I fell in love with the wild, frontier feel of the land. I thought it would be a wonderful place to send Eva on her journey as it’s so remote and rugged, and provides a contrast to her previous life in London and the person she’d become. 

A sea dragon!
A sea dragon!

I admit to never having heard of freediving or sea dragons and have since read more about both! How does it feel to be able to weave such fantastic experiences through your fiction?

That’s wonderful to hear! I often choose to include topics that I’m personally interested in – but know little about – so that I can enjoy learning something new myself. During my research in Tasmania I learnt to scuba dive, which gave me a beautiful insight into the underwater world, and helped me write the freediving scenes within the novel.

A Single Breath brings together so many things that can result from telling one lie or keeping one secret. Discovering them at the same time as Eva was effective as was your use of Jackson’s diary entries. What gave you the idea to use this plot device?

I wanted to give Jackson a ‘voice’, as without one I was concerned that readers would lack empathy with him. Through the Jackson’s interludes, I hope you start to understand the motivation behind his lies. It was actually something that I added in quite late into the novel, and now I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it before! 

The sand gets in the cake so we have move to a sea bench. Very nice it is too
The sand gets in the cake so we have to move to a sea bench. Very nice it is too

Do you think everyone needs their own shack like Saul? 

Yes, I do! We all need a special place we can escape to and recentre. My bolt hole is actually a beach hut on the south coast of England where I do much of my writing. I love being near the water when I write, and I also love that feeling of space and quiet: no emails, no phone calls, just the sea and my notebook. Heaven!

I believe you went travelling for two months for your research for this novel. Where did you go and what do you recommend people visit or see?

I travelled all over Tasmania, which is a relatively small island (you can drive from one end to the other in a day), but the highlight for me was Bruny Island, which inspired the setting of my novel. It’s beautiful, wild, empty and the beaches and underwater life are out of this world.

I believe travel, reading and writing go together and compliment each other really well. Which other country will you write about or go to next?

My third novel is set in the Philippines, so I spent part of this winter researching there. I’m not yet sure where my fourth novel will be set, but my wish list is ever-growing, and includes India, Africa, and Central America – so maybe one of those?!

We move into Lucy’s seaside shack at this point as she has a globe and some diaries to show me. I want to live here. Think I might try to hide behind the nearby sand dunes and then creep back in later tonight. A globe, a seaside shack, a bench,a rug, notebooks, books, the sea….I mean what is not to love?

Lucy becomes enthralled with the globe and I lose her deep in thought for some time.
Lucy becomes enthralled with the globe and I lose her deep in thought for some time.

I leave Lucy pondering the globe at this point as I wander into the little kitchen and start clearing away the tea things. Looking out of the window in a wistful way, I can’t help but feel a little bit envious of Lucy jetting off to Tasmania and all those other wonderful places. But isn’t that why travelling through novels is so much fun! I’d never seen a sea dragon until now nor did I know anything about Bruny Island and the idea of having a shack to escape from it all.

I am so excited about going to the Philippines. Can not wait. So then Lucy, can I come back and see more  photos of your travels I hope? Yes? Well then I’ll provide the tea and cake and the sandbreakers…

Thanks to Lucy Clarke for chatting over a cuppa and a cake today. Once we’ve finished nattering over this globe and plotting where we’d like to go next, she’ll be back on before you know it.

Thanks to Lucy too for allowing me to use these pictures today. And for talking about her travels.

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