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April Book of the Month: The Lido by Libby Page. Ask Libby a question ahead of the author webchat on Tuesday 7 May at 9pm
33

SorchaMumsnet · 04/04/2019 12:27

Our bookclub read for April is Libby Page's debut novel, The Lido, a heart-warming and inspiring tale about an age-gap friendship and taking a stand for the important things in life.

Find out more about the book and read or listen to an extract. And then grab a copy and join us in reading The Lido ahead of the author webchat on Tuesday 7 May at 9pm.

Buy the paperback now for £5.75

Sponsored by Orion Books

April Book of the Month: The Lido by Libby Page. Ask Libby a question ahead of the author webchat on Tuesday 7 May at 9pm
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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 22:08

Thanks so much for having me and for all the interesting questions! Thanks to everyone who has read The Lido and to anyone currently reading it - I hope you enjoy the rest!

If you want to hear more from me I'm on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as @libbypagewrites

Bye for now! Libby xx

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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 22:07

@SorchaMumsnet

We'll let you answer the questions already here but before I forget, here are the ones we ask all our Book of the Month authors :)

What was your favourite childhood book?

What was the last book you gave to someone as a gift?

What was the last book you read?

Can you describe the room(s) where you wrote The Lido?


Before I sign off I will quickly answer these questions from earlier!

What was your favourite childhood book?

- I was / am a big Harry Potter fan! I not only loved the story, but I loved how living through Harry Potter mania made me feel less of a nerd for loving reading! Reading was suddenly cool, something I hadn't always felt before when I had my head in a book. I always wanted to be Hermione Granger!

What was the last book you gave to someone as a gift?

- Ooh good question! I love giving books as gifts. I can't quite remember which was the most recent but it was probably a medical-related book for my sister who will soon be starting a postgrad degree in medicine!

What was the last book you read?

- The last book I read was Britt-Marie was here by Fredrik Backman, the same author as A Man Called Ove which is one of my all-time favourite books. But I think I loved Britt-Marie nearly as much! I LOVED this book so much - funny but surprisingly moving too. And it even made me want to like football (and I hate football!).

Can you describe the room(s) where you wrote The Lido?

- I wrote The Lido all over the place! In cafés near my office on my lunchbreak, in the cramped room in my then flat and also in a lovely little room in Paris where I went for 6 weeks to get some head-down writing time when I was about half way through. That room was on the edge of Montmartre and had a pretty cat who would climb in through the window railings while I was writing. What more could you want?
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SuckingDieselFella · 07/05/2019 22:02

Thank you for such a detailed reply! It's really interesting to read how you went about it.

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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 22:02

@FernieB

Thanks for answering my questions Libby. I'm looking forward to reading your new book now.

Just one more question if I may? Your descriptions of 'The Panic' are vivid - is this something you've experienced?


Hi FernieB - thanks so much and hope you enjoy the second one!

No problem at all, I'm here to answer questions! I'm glad to hear you felt those descriptions were vivid because yes, they were largely based on my own experiences. I've experienced panic attacks on and off over the years - they were particularly bad when I was in my early 20s but I still get them very occasionally, now usually only when on very crowded trains!

One thing I've found through writing about them in my book is how many people have reached out to me to say they have / have had them too, be it people involved in the publishing process, readers and even close friends I've known for years. When they were particularly bad for me I didn't really talk about them, but since opening up with friends it's really surprised me to discover how many people I know have been through the same thing. I think people are starting to talk much more openly about mental health in general now which I think is such a great thing. I felt a responsibility when writing to put in some honest accounts of being a twenty-something woman - the loneliness and also the panic that I experienced at the time but didn't really discuss. I hope anyone reading who can relate to 'The Panic' will take some comfort in knowing they are not alone, but also that it's possible to get through it and to reach a much happier place. Swimming and exercise in general have been so helpful to me and my all-round mental health.
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SorchaMumsnet · 07/05/2019 22:01

And sadly that's about all we've got time for. Thanks for joining us Libby and for giving such thoughtful answers. All the best with the next novel!

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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 21:55

@SorchaMumsnet

I agree with *@MintyT* that The Lido would make a great film. Who would be your dream Rosemary and Kate?


Thanks SorchaMumsnet! I have actually sold the film rights to the book so hopefully there will be a film (although I know these things can take a long time)!

It's so hard for me to pick a dream Rosemary or Kate! When I'm writing, the most important thing about a character is their personality. So I don't necessarily have a picture-perfect image in my head of the two women, but more a sense of who they are as people. We have such a wonderful choice of great older British actresses who'd make wonderful Rosemarys (although I have heard that Dame Judi does love swimming - just saying!!) but for Kate perhaps it might be nice to see a fresh new face given her character is just starting out in the world. Either way, it would be so exciting to see the characters I invented in my head brought to life on film! Whoever played either character would just have to be prepared to do some swimming!
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FernieB · 07/05/2019 21:50

Thanks for answering my questions Libby. I'm looking forward to reading your new book now.

Just one more question if I may? Your descriptions of 'The Panic' are vivid - is this something you've experienced?

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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 21:50

@impostersyndrome

Hi just spotted this. I loved your book. It was so good on being lonely in a crowd. And your description of the streets around the lido just brought it to life even though I’ve never visited there. Have you lived in the district yourself?


Hi impostersyndrome, so pleased to hear you enjoyed my book - thank you. I lived in Brixton when I was a student so know the area quite well, although it's been a little while since I lived there so when I was writing I went back on regular visits and wrote some 'sketches' while I was there (for example sitting in a café and watching what went on around me, or visiting the market). A lot from those visits made it into the book - I wanted to try and make it feel as authentic as possible. I do use my creative licence somewhat - so some places are slightly altered for the purpose of the book - but the most important thing I wanted to capture was the spirit of the place.
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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 21:47

@HarrietMWelsch

Love the idea of a star chart! Have you got a second novel in the works? And how did you find the process of writing that in comparison?


Hi again HarrietMWelsch!

I'm glad you like the idea of a star chart! Some people might find a different reward system works (a biscuit every 1,000 words?!) but I found just stars was enough to feel I was progressing.

I have actually written my second book, yes, and it will be coming out next year! In some ways it was easier to write, because I was fortunate enough to be doing it full time (I was lucky enough to be able to quit my job in marketing when I got my book deal) - it made a big difference to have more time to dedicate to it.

But in other ways it was more difficult! When I wrote my first book, I didn't really think anyone would ever read it, apart from maybe my Mum! But with the second, I had real readers reaching out and saying they were looking forward to reading it. Hearing from happy readers is the best feeling in the world, but it also made me feel a sense of responsibility to try and deliver something they would enjoy. I also had a commitment to my publisher to deliver another book, something I didn't have the first time round. It really got to me for a while and I actually made a false start to begin with - I got quite a way into one idea before realising I was writing something I thought I should write, rather than something I actually wanted to write. I started again on a different story, one that came to me more organically, and it was much easier from there. But it certainly wasn't always easy! I had huge moments of self-doubt (I think anyone who does anything creative tackles this on a daily basis!) and at times it made it hard to write.

Now, I feel proud to have finished my second book and I can't wait to share the story with readers. I hope that it contains similar themes to The Lido so will not disappoint readers, but I also have to accept that it's never possible to please everyone. You can't let that stop you. I think that it's important that I keep writing from the heart - that's how I wrote The Lido and in the end it was how I wrote my second book too.
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SorchaMumsnet · 07/05/2019 21:38

I agree with @MintyT that The Lido would make a great film. Who would be your dream Rosemary and Kate?

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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 21:36

@FernieB

What was the inspiration for the book? The characters just leap off the page - they're so wonderful. Are any of them based on people you've met?


Thanks FernieB for another great question, and I'm so pleased to hear you enjoyed the characters in The Lido. The inspiration for my book came from lots of different places. I lived in Brixton for a while as a student, and it's while living there that I first came to feel a sense of community around me - something I'd struggled to experience when I first moved to London from a small town at 18. In Brixton I felt like there really was a strong sense of community, but that it was under threat by chains and developers moving into the area and threatening community spaces such as libraries and independent shops. I wanted to write a story about how much we have to lose when we lose those kinds of places from our towns and cities.

At the same time I was also coming to love outdoor swimming and I felt really inspired by the community I saw around the pool too. While Rosemary's character isn't based on any one particular woman, she was definitely inspired by seeing older women at lidos who jump fearlessly into cold water while teenagers are left shivering on the side. I found that attitude really inspiring so wanted to write a character like that.

Some of the secondary characters are inspired by people I saw at the lido too. For example when I write a small scene about a heavily pregnant woman swimming at the lido - I so often see pregnant women swimming at the pool and see how much relief they seem to experience as they enter the water and are suddenly weightless.

I suppose that Kate's character was partly inspired by my own experiences of moving to London and struggling to find my feet. The panic attacks she experiences are something I've gone through too. In many ways I'm quite different from Kate, but I definitely used a lot of my own experiences to build parts of her story.

I think that in general when I come up with characters they are a mix of my experiences, people I've come into contact with plus people I'd like to meet or who just come to me in a burst of imagination!
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impostersyndrome · 07/05/2019 21:35

Hi just spotted this. I loved your book. It was so good on being lonely in a crowd. And your description of the streets around the lido just brought it to life even though I’ve never visited there. Have you lived in the district yourself?

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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 21:27

@HarrietMWelsch

Hi Libby, am really enjoying the book. My question is: Do you have much experience of age-gap friendships?

I personally have only really experienced them through work (and also book clubs). Do you think society would be better if there were more opportunities for them to flourish - and indeed, more of a sense of community to be created, especially in places like London?


Hi HarrietMWelsch,

Lots of people ask me if Rosemary's character is based on someone in my own life, and I'd love to say she was! I'd love to have a friend like Rosemary! I think in some ways I wrote about a kind of friendship that I would have loved to experience when I first moved to London and really struggled to find my feet.

That said, since writing The Lido I have tried to broaden where I look to find friends, because I completely agree that friendship doesn't have to be limited by age or background. I really believe it's possible to share connections with people of all ages, and that just being human means we have more in common with others than we might think. I have recently made a new friend in my local area and it only really entered my mind recently that we are very different ages (I am about the same age as her daughter) - we just have so many shared interests that I don't really notice the age gap. I also spend quite a lot of time with my soon to be mother-in-law who again is from a different generation but who has lots of shared interests with me.

I think there's so much to be said for having friends of different ages, and just for encouraging people to think 'outside the box' when it comes to friendship - to realise we have much more in common with others than we might realise. I was heartened recently when an 18 year old reached out to me via social media and told me she'd read my book and has a really close friendship with her neighbour who is 90 years old. She said they have a great time together and make each other laugh - and isn't that what friendship is all about?
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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 21:20

@FernieB

I'm partway through the book and really enjoying it. It's reminding me of when I lived abroad for a few years and every town had a lido which was open 8 months a year. Like Rosemary I loved swimming in the rain - even heavy rain. It was so atmospheric. My favourite memory of it though was swimming watching birds and butterflies swoop down to drink from the pool just ahead of me.

Libby - what's your favourite thing about lidos? And do you like swimming in the rain?


Hi FernieB!

What a lovely description of your experience of lidos! I have never seen butterflies while swimming (that sounds wonderful!) but definitely agree that birds dipping into the water as well as flying overhead is a very special part of swimming at a lido.

I live in London, so for me, a big appeal of lidos are the fact they enable me to feel a connection with nature that I might otherwise lack. I love watching the seasons change in a lido, feeling the water temperature change, seeing leaves falling on the surface in autumn and blossom in spring. There is something magical and freeing about swimming beneath open sky - I now struggle to swim in indoor pools as I find them too claustrophobic!

I love how friendly lidos are. Although my novel is fictional, the sense of community I describe in the book is very real. Whenever I visit a lido I end up chatting with people, either in the changing room or in the pool. They are places where all sorts of people come together and share their love of the water, and I love that. Teenagers hanging out in the summer, 'serious' swimmers training for triathlons, families with young children... you get everyone at a lido.

Many lidos are also very special buildings too - there are some truly beautiful lidos across the UK. Brockwell Lido, where my book is set, is an amazing art deco style building. They are very unique and feel such an important part of our history.

And yes, I do enjoy swimming in the rain! When you're standing on the side whilst it's raining it can feel very unappealing to get in the water! But as soon as you're in your whole perspective changes. The rain is suddenly something beautiful - the way it falls on the water, the way you feel part of it. I can sometimes get quite low when the weather is rubbish, but swimming in the rain has helped me see the positives in bad weather! A useful lesson for life I think!
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HarrietMWelsch · 07/05/2019 21:17

Love the idea of a star chart! Have you got a second novel in the works? And how did you find the process of writing that in comparison?

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FernieB · 07/05/2019 21:11

What was the inspiration for the book? The characters just leap off the page - they're so wonderful. Are any of them based on people you've met?

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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 21:08

@SuckingDieselFella

Hi Libby, how long did it take you to write The Lido and you have any advice for someone trying to finish their first novel?


Hi and thanks for your question! The Lido took me about 6 months of planning - for me this didn't mean plotting out the whole book as such but more building the characters and story in my mind and feeling really confident that this was the story I wanted to tell before starting. It then took 1 year of actual writing to finish the first draft, which I then sent out to literary agents.

In terms of advice, firstly I'd say good for you for making a start! I know how hard it can be to fit in writing alongside other life commitments. I wrote The Lido whilst doing a full-time job in marketing which meant getting up early in the morning to write before work, writing during my lunchbreak and on weekends. If you're serious about wanting to write a novel I do think you need to be serious about planning out time to dedicate to it, as otherwise it just won't get done. I found setting a daily word target helped, but the actual amount of words will completely depend on you and what other things you're juggling. If you do a little bit regularly it will get done, however impossible it might seem at times!

I found monitoring my progress really helped me to stay motivated. I just used a simple star chart for every 1,000 words I wrote which might sound silly but did really help to make me feel like I was getting somewhere! A book can take a long time to write so I think it's important to acknowledge the small steps along the way.

Good luck and stick at it - I'm certainly so glad that I persevered with my book!
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SorchaMumsnet · 07/05/2019 21:07

We'll let you answer the questions already here but before I forget, here are the ones we ask all our Book of the Month authors :)

What was your favourite childhood book?

What was the last book you gave to someone as a gift?

What was the last book you read?

Can you describe the room(s) where you wrote The Lido?

OP's posts:
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LibbyPage · 07/05/2019 21:00

Hello everyone! Thanks so much for joining me and for all the great questions so far. I'm cosy on my sofa with a cup of tea and am ready to chat with you - looking forward to answering your questions.

April Book of the Month: The Lido by Libby Page. Ask Libby a question ahead of the author webchat on Tuesday 7 May at 9pm
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SorchaMumsnet · 07/05/2019 20:57

Good evening and welcome to Libby Page, debut author of heartwarming novel The Lido. Thanks so much for joining us Libby. Over to you... Brew

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HarrietMWelsch · 07/05/2019 20:24

Hi Libby, am really enjoying the book. My question is: Do you have much experience of age-gap friendships?

I personally have only really experienced them through work (and also book clubs). Do you think society would be better if there were more opportunities for them to flourish - and indeed, more of a sense of community to be created, especially in places like London?

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FernieB · 07/05/2019 19:56

I'm partway through the book and really enjoying it. It's reminding me of when I lived abroad for a few years and every town had a lido which was open 8 months a year. Like Rosemary I loved swimming in the rain - even heavy rain. It was so atmospheric. My favourite memory of it though was swimming watching birds and butterflies swoop down to drink from the pool just ahead of me.

Libby - what's your favourite thing about lidos? And do you like swimming in the rain?

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ShirleyAvenue · 07/05/2019 18:01

I enjoyed this book - especially the friendship between the older lady and the younger woman. I wish there were more opportunities for peoples' lives to cross in this way. Both sides have something to offer the other.

I also liked the way the story moved between past and present- like swimming from the shallow end to the deep end and back.

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SuckingDieselFella · 07/05/2019 17:15

That should say, do you have any advice!

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SuckingDieselFella · 07/05/2019 17:13

Hi Libby, how long did it take you to write The Lido and you have any advice for someone trying to finish their first novel?

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