1) In 2019 I got engaged on a remote Scottish island, and the setting inspired my new book
I’ve always been fascinated by small islands. I love the sea so the idea of living surrounded by it appeals, and I’m also interested in how small communities survive and thrive away from the mainland. That’s why I headed to the Isle of Eigg in the Inner Hebrides with my partner to research an idea for a new book. I just didn’t realise that I’d come back both with a book idea and a fiancé! My new book The Island Home is set on a fictional island inspired by Eigg and eagle-eyed readers will spot that I gave my now husband and I a little cameo in it!
2) I love outdoor swimming – last year I even swam on Christmas morning
My first book The Lido was about a community of outdoor swimmers and very much inspired by my own love of swimming. There’s something so exhilarating about swimming outside and there’s a great sense of comradery among swimmers. I try to swim all year round, usually just in a swimsuit and rash vest, and last year had a very bracing dip on Christmas Day. It really is the best way to start the day – you feel totally alert and alive.
3) I lived in London for 10 years but recently moved back to the countryside where I grew up
My first two books are set in London and I found the city a really inspiring place to live. As a writer I’m fascinated by people and their stories so living somewhere where I could do plenty of people-watching was great (people-watching in cafés inspired my second book The 24-Hour Café). But over time I came to feel ready for a quieter pace of life and felt the tug of my roots back in the south west where I grew up. In April I moved to Somerset and am loving life back in the countryside. The idea of home and what it means to you is a big theme in my new book and that’s no coincidence; when I was writing it, I was thinking hard about what home meant to me. When London stopped feeling like home I knew it was time to leave.
4) My first baby is due a week after the publication of my third book
It’s set to be a busy summer! I’m very excited about becoming a mum, even if there are daunting aspects too. Right now, it’s hard to imagine juggling motherhood and my career but I know so many writers who do it and I also think that becoming a parent will provide me with so much inspiration for future books.
5) I’m a real optimist, but that doesn’t mean life is always sunshine and rainbows
My books are often described as ‘up-lit’ (uplifting literature) and it means so much to me when readers say they’ve found my books uplifting. But that doesn’t mean I shy away from heavier topics, either in my writing or in real life. I’ve struggled with anxiety and panic attacks in the past (something I wrote about in The Lido) and found lockdown life during the pandemic really challenging. I try to talk openly about my feelings – good and bad – and in my books like to explore both light and shade. But to me being an optimist means working hard to see the good in people and to think hopefully. I like to think this attitude comes across in my books – there might be dark moments but ultimately, I want to leave you feeling like you’ve had a nice big hug after reading one of my books.
6) My friendships are extremely important to me – and I borrowed the name of my best friend for one of the main characters in The Island Home
Friendship is a theme that comes up in each of my books because it’s something close to my heart. I might have a husband I love to bits but I still couldn’t manage without my female friends. They bring so much to my life and I think they are relationships that are sometimes undervalued; in my opinion they can be just as meaningful, strong and complex as romantic relationships. That’s why I’m so drawn to writing about friendships. In The Lido I wrote about an inter-generational friendship, in The 24-Hour Café I looked at two best friends and how they navigate a rift in their relationship, and now in The Island Home I deal with friendship again, between two sisters-in-law but also a colourful cast of island women. For one of the main characters I needed a name that had only positive associations for me, as I wanted the character to be one of those really good, solid women. So I borrowed the name of my best friend – because everyone needs and Alice in their life.
7) Being an author is the best job in the world
I’ve wanted to be an author ever since I can remember. I’ve always loved reading and writing and knew from a very young age that there was nothing I wanted more than to write stories. I didn’t become an author straight away though; I trained first as a journalist, then worked in marketing where I wrote The Lido around my full-time job. Now I’m lucky enough to call writing my job and feel so privileged to do the thing I love every day, to share my stories with people and to hear from readers. I always feel incredibly grateful to anyone who reads or recommends one of my books!
THE ISLAND HOME by Libby Page is published by Orion Fiction on 24 June in hardback, eBook and audio download, https://smarturl.it/TheIslandHB