Cath Crowley - author of Words in Deep Blue 

Author Q&As

Tell us about your book – what inspired you to write it?

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when the idea arrived. The first scene I wrote, discarded in the end, was of Henry’s dad sitting on the veranda. He was writing to Pablo Neruda about love without an address for his letter.  A while after that I opened a copy of A Streetcar Named Desire to see that a stranger had underlined the same phrases that I love. Of course you see this often – but the markings always feel like notes taken in a class, markings directed by a teacher. The underlines on Streetcar felt like a person marking them out of love, or need. I thought about a whole bookstore where people were allowed to write in books, but that seemed impracticable, and so it became a set of shelves in the store, a letter library: a place where people could write to strangers, to the poets, to people they’d lost.


Do you use your own experiences when writing?

I do in the sense that everything that happens to me informs my writing, but I don’t take event and make them into scenes in a novel. I might meet someone that gives me a idea for a character, or visit a place that inspires me. I know the grief I felt after my father’s death informed Rachel, but I didn’t use specific events, just feelings.


Which author/s living or dead would you like to have dinner with?

I’d love to have dinner with Anne Patchett, Jennifer Egan, Helen Garner and Rebecca Stead. I’d sit back and listen to them talk.


How and where do you write?

I wrote Words in Deep Blue full-time, 9 – 5. I went away for weeks at a time to write by the ocean. I’d write for as long as I could, and when I needed a break, I’d walk along the ocean.


Ideally, I’d write like that all the time.


But this time around I don’t have that time or space, so I’m writing my next book in a journal – by hand – on trains, in cafes, in quick grabs. At some stage I’ll go away, but for now, I’m just trying to be in the world for at least an hour every day.


What was your favourite book as a child?

I loved The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. Wolves, snow adventure, strong friendships, heroic girls. I re-read it every now and then and it’s still a wonderful book.

We know you are a talented writer, do you have any hidden talents?

I’m not sure that I do. I learnt to swim a few years back, and I was quite good at it. I’m an incredibly good daydreamer.

Can you tell us what you are working on now?

I’m working on a book with Fiona Wood and Simmone Howell called Take Three Girls. It’s out in September this year and explores themes of friendship, feminism, identity and belonging. I’ve loved collaborating with two brilliant writers on three rich, strong characters.