Wednesday 12 July 2017


Interview with Lucy Clarke about Last Seen [blog tour]

If you've been on my blog or social channels before you know that British author Lucy Clarke writes some of my all-time favourite books. I've been journeying across the world with her novels ever since The Sea Sisters back in 2013, and in Last Seen she brings her beautifully descriptive and atmospheric writing to British shores in a gripping missing person's read. I'm delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Lucy's brand-new book today as it gave me the opportunity to ask her about her story settings, writing tips, the highlight of her publishing career to date, and much more.

Hi Lucy, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some of my burning questions as part of the blog tour for Last Seen! I’ve been a fan of your novels ever since the release of your debut The Sea Sisters and was completely gripped by your latest book.

Thank you SO much 😊

After many exotic locations, Last Seen is your first novel set on British shores. How did this affect your writing process?

I’ve grown up spending my summers in a beach hut on the south coast of England, so it felt like a very natural step to use the setting for Last Seen. Although not exotic, I loved writing about a place that feels a little off-grid, where characters are free to be themselves outside of their everyday routines. I also liked the idea of exploring how this idyllic, peaceful setting could hold a darker edge. There’s an intensity to summers when you’re living in such close quarters – particularly as most beach hutters have owned their huts for years so there are layers of history locked within the community.

One of the biggest reasons I love your books so much is because the settings are always beautifully descriptive, making me want to pack my bags and explore the wonderful locations within the pages. Which books or authors make you feel this way?

Thank you, Zarina 😊 I like to set my novels in places that excite and inspire me. I’ve always lived by the coast and perhaps that’s why the sea plays such a large role in my books. I love stories that transport me – armchair style – to another place. One of my all-time favourite authors is Tim Winton. His novels are mesmerizing and describe the landscapes and seascapes of Australia with rugged clarity and passion. I’ve also just read Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan, which movingly describes the author’s search for the perfect wave.

And what dream destination(s) would you like to incorporate in a future novel? 

Oh, good question! Last winter we spent a month in Sri Lanka, and I kept extensive notes about all that we were seeing and doing. I feel certain that a future book will be set there! Another country that beguiles me is New Zealand. My husband and I spent a winter there in our twenties, and we both fell in love with the place. We’re planning to visit again soon, so I’m hoping to somehow weave a tale around the trip.

Looking back on your career as a published author, what has been the highlight for you to date?

There have been some wonderful moments, but I think the phone call from my agent telling me I’d been offered a book deal, is still the best one of all. It took me several years to get published – and there were plenty of rejection letters along the way – so to finally get that call was truly magical.

Do you have any top tips for aspiring authors reading this blog to help them achieve that dream of getting published? 

Yes, if any aspiring authors have the time, I’ve recorded a 12-part series of FacebookLive Writing Masterclasses. The videos can be played back on my Facebook page and they cover key topics, like characterisation, how to write twists, creating realistic dialogue etc. I think each one is about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, here are my top 5 writing tips.
  1. Write. Try and write as often as you can, even if it’s only ten minutes snatched at the end of each day. Don’t be afraid to write badly.
  2. Read. Voraciously. I always read with a pen in my hand so that I can scribble notes in the margins about interesting techniques the author may have used.
  3. Write for yourself. Don’t try and write for a market trend, or on a hot topic. Just write the type of book you love reading, or on a subject you’re passionate about. That honesty will feed through your work.
  4. Get feedback. Ask people to critique your work. Feedback is so valuable, but only chose people who will respond to you with honesty.
  5. Be open to inspiration. It’s all around us. Start keeping a notepad and pen on your person and make yourself write one thing in it every day, whether it’s a snippet of conversation overheard, an interesting sight, or something you watched on TV that caught your imagination. Inspiration is out there; you just need to tune in.

Even though Last Seen has only just been released, I am already looking forward to discovering what you’ll be writing about next. Is there anything you can share about your next project?

I’m being annoyingly tight-lipped about my next book because it’s at such a fledgling stage. It’ll be published by HarperCollins again, and all I can tell you is that the story centres on an author who lives in an isolated clifftop home in Cornwall. I get the feeling that it’s going to be darker than anything I’ve ever written…

Thanks so much Lucy for sharing your great insights about your books and writing with my blog and readers! You can find out more about Lucy on her website and Twittter.

Last Seen is out now and you can buy a copy here. Also make sure you pop by the other stops on the blog tour for more Q&As, reviews and Last Seen insights!

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