OMG hiiiiiii! Fancy meeting you here on my blog tour for Megan Goldin’s newest release, The Night Swim. If you’re just stumbling across this Q&A post, be sure to go back to read my mega-blog tour post with an excerpt from the novel. There’s also a review on the book coming soon! What can I say? It’s been a busy week.
If you’re here because I told you to be here, thank you. I like people who follow instructions. My instructions, specifically. You’ll be glad you did because there’s a puppy picture coming up. No one can resist a puppers!
The blog tour for The Night Swim is running until August 18th, so treat these next two-ish weeks like a bar crawl. Visit some other book bloggers’ posts, reviews and opinions. But always remember, I’m the most important.
Speaking of important, I suppose that’s enough about me and we should get on to the real star of the show: Megan Goldin! I really liked her debut thriller, The Escape Room, so I was totally jazzy-jazzed to be invited to read The Night Swim and participate in another blog tour for her. And that’s not me kissing ass. You know I always tell the truth, even the negative shit because I’m a terrible person.
So, trust me when I say that Goldin is a fantastic writer and an overall good human. With so many shitty humans taking up your newsfeeds, timelines and mental space, it’s nice to get to take a break and be around some positive energy. I’m here to remind you that not everyone is a murderous cop, racist dickbag, homophobic asswipe or moron Q conspiracy turdnugget who thinks that child rapists are talking in secret code out in the open about eating babies in a satanic cult with Oprah and Chrissy Teigen.
Goldin worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she is raising three sons and fosters puppies learning to be guide dogs.
YEAH. FOSTERING GUIDE DOGS. This sweet lady is just better than me and you in every way. If you feel like supporting a dope ass human being, then please buy this woman’s work so we can get more good stories like The Night Swim!
Why did Goldin set her sophomore novel in a seaside resort community? What does she really think of true-crime podcasts? What real-life cases did she draw from to write The Night Swim? I wish I had the answers for you…oh, wait I do…
HTFT: Your debut novel, The Escape Room, was set in the world of Wall Street high stakes investment banking. How did you decide to set your next book in a seaside resort community?
MG: For me, part of the pleasure of writing is to explore characters, places, issues and even writing styles. When I finished writing The Escape Room, I was interested in expanding my horizons as a writer rather than embarking on a new novel that would tread similar ground to The Escape Room. I’d been reading about several sexual assault cases going through the courts and I was interested in exploring some of the issues in my fiction. Not just about sexual assault itself but about the judicial process and the effects of it on families. As for my choice of location, my process is that I sit down and start writing, and let the story unravel in a very organic way. So when I started writing The Night Swim, the setting sort of chose itself!
HTFT: Rachel, the main character in The Night Swim, is the host of a hugely popular true-crime podcast. Are you a fan of those types of podcasts yourself? Why do you think they’re so popular these days?
MG: I love podcasts and I listen to them often, while exercising, cooking and driving. Of course among the podcasts that I enjoy most are true crime podcasts although I also enjoy history podcasts and current affairs podcasts as well. True crime podcasts are popular because people are fascinated by the dark side of human nature. Like many podcast listeners, I became a fan after listening to Serial. I quickly became addicted to other podcasts as well. The biggest problem right now with true crime podcasts, and podcasts in general, is that there are so many fantastic ones around. I wish I had more time to listen to them all.
HTFT: What made you decide to write the book from a dual point of view? Did that make it easier or more challenging to explore the parallel storylines?
MG: It’s actually quite challenging writing from multiple points-of-view as each narrative has its own ‘voice’ and style so it’s quite a complicated process. I often start my writing day by spending the first couple of hours just reading back on the previous chapters of that particular point-of-view so that I can get the ‘voice’ back of the character before I start writing.
HTFT: Are courtroom scenes difficult to write? How do you keep the energy or tension up?
MG: I’ve read novels and watched movies with terrific courtroom scenes over the years. When done well, powerful courtroom scenes are among the most memorable scenes in films and books. So I have to admit that I rubbed my hands with glee when I had the opportunity to write the courtroom chapters. It’s almost as if I’d been working towards writing those chapters my entire life!
HTFT: The tight-knit town in the story is torn apart over charges that the town’s “golden boy” brutally attacked a young woman. Were there any real-life cases you drew from to tell this story?
MG: There wasn’t any specific cases that I based the novel on but there were many sexual assault cases that had been in the news over the years that I had read about. Many of them left a deep impression. When I started writing The Night Swim, I went back and read courtroom transcripts from some of these cases as well as other cases that came up in my research. I also read, watched and spoke with as many people as I could in order to get an insider view of what happens when these cases are brought to court.
HTFT: The parallel storyline involves someone leaving mysterious notes for Rachel, begging her to investigate their sister’s decades-old death. Why was their approach so secretive and vaguely threatening?
MG: Hannah had a traumatic childhood because of what happened to her mother and sister. She never really recovered from those childhood traumas so she was understandably wary about whether her story would be taken seriously. She was a fan of Rachel’s podcast and she truly believed that Rachel would get justice for her sister if she only knew what had happened, but she also knew that she needed to find a way to connect with Rachel and get her attention. Following Rachel, and leaving messages for her was her way of connecting. Hannah was so focused on getting to the truth about what happened to her sister that she didn’t realize that it might be perceived as threatening.
HTFT: The Night Swim looks at how sexual assault victims who come forward often face an equally traumatic ordeal with the investigation and public opinion. How did you approach portraying this with sympathy and care, while still keeping the pages turning?
MG: I tend to put myself in my characters shoes when I write so I found it emotionally gruelling to write some of the chapters related to sexual assault in The Night Swim. I felt an enormous obligation to be as accurate as possible about what sexual assault survivors and their families go through. So I did as much research as possible and wrote, rewrote, edited and re-edited those scenes many times over. I did my very best to write it with the respect and sympathy that the subject matter deserves as it’s a truly harrowing trauma that affects people for the rest of their lives.
HTFT: A nightingale makes regular appearances throughout the book. What made you include that in the story?
MG: As part of my research, I’d read about the Greek myth of Philomela. She was raped and then silenced when her tongue was cut out and eventually turned into a nightingale. There are various interpretations of the story but some suggest that the silencing of Philomela symbolises the silencing of women over the centuries. So that’s how the nightingale found its way into the book. I’m living in Australia right now and we have magnificent wild parrots and rainbow lorikeets which are the most stunning rainbow colored birds that live in the trees by my house. We’re currently locked down due to coronavirus so it’s somewhat liberating watching the beautiful Australian birds fly around freely even if we are stuck at home.
HTFT: I hear you just got a new puppy to help you and your family get through the lockdown in Melbourne. Tell us about her!
MG: I jokingly call her our lockdown puppy but in truth we’d been thinking of getting a puppy for a long time. She is a Labrador puppy and we were lucky to get her because in Australia there is such a demand for dogs right now that there are few rescue dogs available and pedigree breeders have multi-year waiting lists. My beloved Lab cross died of cancer a few years ago and I’d been waiting until my kids were old enough to get a new puppy. I volunteer to care for guide dog puppies so our new puppy was always going to be a Lab of some description. They are beautifully-natured dogs although they spend the first year tearing the house apart as they chew everything in sight. My last Lab ate books from cover to cover. With the pressures of the lockdown and the effect it has on kids, it’s a welcome distraction for my kids to have a puppy to help raise.
Seriously, thanks so much for coming by my blog tour stop today! I appreciate it muchly. Getting these posts up in between a very busy week at work was not easy, but I got it done. And now I’m going to get high now, eat pretzels and watch Friends reruns. That’s self-care!
Until next time, Booknerds…