Big Ideas From Small Boats

Kathy Sharp’s Isle of Larus is one of my favourite books – brimming with atmosphere and charm – and now she’s produced another one! I am delighted to host her on a very special day.


A big thank you to Jane Bwye for giving me this blogging opportunity on the launch day of my new novel, Sea of Clouds.

A question I am frequently asked, especially by other writers, is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

I’d like to give one of the answers to that question by telling you a story. Once upon a time in the very long ago (Oh, all right, it was in the sixties), I went with my family one day to look at a boat. We owned the smallest cabin cruiser you ever saw, and we were looking for something a little more spacious. But not expensive. You get the idea. And that was how we came to be inspecting the Imp with a view to possible purchase. She was a big, old converted lifeboat – roomy, broad-beamed, clumsy and heavy. She also had an unfortunate tendency to sink. Indeed, she had sunk the previous week and been laboriously pumped dry.

We climbed aboard and opened the cabin door. After a day or two underwater in the soupy river, and another day or two on the surface in sticky July warmth, the smell wafting out was so strong that we slammed the door and never ventured into the cabin at all. Needless to say, we quickly decided she was not the boat for us. Within days she had sunk again, was dried out again, and soon vanished from the moorings.

I have no idea what happened to the poor old Imp after that. But I never forgot her. Boats feature quite heavily in my Isle of Larus stories, and when I needed a new one, one with distinct character, for Sea of Clouds, I thought of the Imp. And so there she is, having undergone a few changes in my imagination, but essentially the same, in all her chaotic glory; still bearing her original name, still heavy and clumsy, still smelly, and still inclined to sink without warning.

I shall never know what adventures the real Imp had, but her fictional counterpart is renamed and lives through some exciting times in my story. She has a glorious future ahead of her in my next book, too. I’d quite like to be immortalised like that myself!

So the answer to the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” in this instance is “from an odd memory of looking at a battered old boat one summer’s day in Kent.”


Sea of Clouds is published by Crooked Cat on 11 November

Isle of Larus

Flash fiction with Kathy, my Monday blog

Twitter: @KathySharp19


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