Author LUCY CLARKE on how her life by the sea inspires her writing. Interview: Alex Fisher Photographs: James Bowden
My family have owned a beach hut in Dorset since I was eight. We were incredibly lucky because between March and October we were allowed to sleep there, and so during these months we’d spend every weekend on the beach. It gave me a wonderful childhood. We’d have barbecues in the evenings and wake up with the sound of the waves. There was – and still is – a close-knit community of families around the huts and that was where I met my husband, when I was 11 years old.
I left the seaside to study English Literature in Cardiff, but returned to Dorset after completing my degree and travelling the world. I knew I wanted to be a novelist, but I had to support myself financially too, so I set up my own company called Bright Green Enterprise, which delivered social enterprise events to secondary schools. It allowed me to write in any free time I could find, and this is when I returned to our family beach hut: it was the perfect place to write.
The path to getting a publishing deal was a long and tricky one. I had to overcome the disappointment of many rejection letters and just keep going, but having the beach hut to work in kept me motivated and inspired. Even on a cold, drizzly day the sea was beautiful.
It took me two years to draft my first novel and I was lucky enough to pick up an agent fairly quickly. Judith Murray from Greene and Heaton said it was how I had written about the coast that had initially caught her eye. In 2011, I signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins. My debut novel, The Sea Sisters (HarperCollins, 2013), is a mystery inspired by my travel journals and love of the ocean. The sea is a theme that runs through all my work and I still write in the beach hut. I usually start at 6am and take a break to swim or go paddle-boarding. There is nowhere else I would rather be.
Lucy's latest novel, The Blue (HarperCollins, 2015), is available now. For more details visit lucy-clarke.com.