Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the Dark Water Blog Tour
I'm really thrilled to interview the author
Sara, a warm welcome to Jaffareadstoo ~ Tell us a little about yourself and what got you started as an author?
Reading. I read all the time as a child and have continued to read throughout my life, everything and anything. It’s a bit of a cliché these days to say I always wanted to write, but I did. My family were great storytellers and as the youngest I listened to them weave this magic around themselves. My brother and next sister up (there are six of us) in particular used to invent bedtime stories. I saw too how much books were admired and revered in our house. I still don’t feel I’ve really moved in somewhere until the books are unpacked. Something my husband understands as the first thing he did when we recently moved was build me a beautiful new bookcase.
Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for Dark Water?
Two things sparked Dark Water, one was a writing exercise I did as part of my MA that made me explore my memories of growing up in Orkney. The other was Helen Dunmore’s book Talking to the Dead. I loved the brittleness of her heroine and the unexpected ending.
Will you explain to us a little more about the plot without giving too much away?
It’s about returning to your teenage self and how the things that happen at that time form the adult you become. Helena has to face her past when she comes home to look after her Dad. She has to find a way of living with her actions. In that way the book is also about the different versions of events that we remember and which one we end up using so we can move on. It’s a book about growing up and a book about how we retell our past. I’m always fascinated by how the same event can be remembered in different ways by all the people there. It’s also about friendship, in particular girls’ friendships.
How do you plan your writing, are you a plotter, or a see where it goes kind of writer?
Oh, I so want to be a plotter and I do try, but I’m a ‘see where it goes’ kind of writer really. I believe the story is in there and I just have to untangle it - like a ball of wool, find the thread and follow it. At the moment I’m working on the next book and I have all these scenes and chapters written which I know hang together somehow, I’m just not sure yet where the beginning is - once I get that, and the voice - I know I’ll be off and away. I love that moment when it feels like you’re just taking dictation, but those moments are rare and precious.
What has been your favourite part of the writing/publishing process?
The good writing days. I love having the initial ideas and just getting them down on the page. Oddly too, I enjoyed the editing bit right at the end, finding just the right word, weeding out the ‘blips and farts’ as one of my writer friends calls them.
What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
That’s hard to say. I guess I want the reader to be taken back to their own teenage years and to recognise bits of themselves (obviously not all). Mainly though, I want them to feel that they’ve been told a good story. And of course I want them to fall in love with Orkney as I have done.
And finally - how can readers find out more about you and your writing?
Go to the Nightingale website
Feelings run like a silken thread throughout the whole of Dark Water, which is a very cleverly put together story which explores the dark and often unguarded side of ourselves that so often surfaces when we are forced to remember things in our past which perhaps we would prefer to forget.
When Helena Chambers returns to her Orkney childhood home, ostensibly to care for her sick father she is unprepared for the effect that the island and its people will have on her. Buried beneath the surface of Helena's memory are the shadowy areas she has tried so hard, in the intervening decade, to suppress. An adolescence spent with her best friend, Anastasia and the undeniable repercussions of a terrible tragedy have coloured Helena's adult life. What then follows is a clever mix of past and present which all combine to form a very cleverly contrived psychological mystery.
The story is wonderfully descriptive; time and pace move ever so slowly and, almost imperceptibly, the mystery at the heart of the novel starts to gradually unfold. There is much to take in, not just in terms of what is happening to Helena in the here and now, but also about the faults and feelings she needs to explore before she can hope to lay the turmoil of her past to rest.
I really enjoyed this story which is remarkably adept for a debut novel. There is a definite sense that the author understands her audience and writes not just to impress, but also to share a love of good storytelling. Some novels can merely be a collection of words on a page, Dark Water with its depth of feeling, it's awareness of the time and tides which ebb and flow amongst us, and the glorious Orkney setting is far more than just words on a page, it is story telling at its absolute best.
Best Read With ...Orange Barley Sugar, sticky and sweet, and an ice cream float...
Huge thanks to Sara for spending time with us today and for sharing her writing thoughts so eloquently. And also to Jacqui at Nightingale for the review copy of Dark water and also for the invitation to be part of this blog tour.
You can read more from the publisher Jacqui in The Writing Coach Newsletter by clicking here