It was meant to be the trip of a lifetime…
Johnny and his new bride Clem have arrived in Turkey for a year’s honeymoon. Young, blissfully happy but poor, they are surviving on love, luck and a spirit of adventure.
So when a boat appears out of a raging storm, crewed by a bohemian couple who represent everything Johnny and Clem want to be, they do not think twice about stepping on board. But all is not as it seems. And when they finally open their eyes to the truth, the boat is in the middle of the vast open sea…
This is a hypnotic, emotionally charged novel about two sweet young lovers who lose their innocence in paradise.
I’d like to thank Becci Sharpe from Head of Zeus for providing me with a review copy of this book. I was immediately intrigued by this book and I knew I’d like it from the first chapter. Based on some of the authors real-life experiences, The Boat is about newly weds Johnny and Clem who find themselves in some trouble whilst travelling in Turkey for their year long honeymoon. They have no money and no place to stay and when all hope seems to be lost, a boat appears out of a raging storm housing a bohemian couple, Frank and Annie, and their daughter and they welcome Johnny and Clem on-board with open arms. Johnny and Clem settle into life on the boat and begin to think of Frank and Annie as the kind of couple that they long to be but as days turn into weeks they start to realise that this couple aren’t as perfect as they’d originally thought and when secrets gets unravelled and tension begins to rise, Johnny and Clem realise that the boat is now way out in the open sea and there’s absolutely nowhere to run.
I was so unbelievably drawn into the unfamiliar world of this book – from the very first page. Head of Zeus had said that if you’re a fan of The Beach then you’ll love this and they are absolutely right. It starts with a quite intense chapter about a man who is in the process of committing suicide. I won’t state who the man is and initially you have no idea of the reasons behind his actions and 3/4 of the way through the book I still had no idea of the meaning behind that first chapter. I think that’s one of the main reasons I read the book so fast because I was so curious to find out what could have possibly gone so wrong to make a man contemplate suicide. After the initial chapter, the story focuses on Johnny and Clem’s journey. I have the upmost respect for Johnny and Clem – their passion and spirit of adventure. They live to travel, they want to see the world and not conform to the norms of society. Live life on their own terms and I think they stand for everything that most of us can only dream of. They were so likeable and I so hoped everything was going to turn out alright for the both of them. The emotions of the characters are described so well you somehow begin to feel how they must be feeling – well I did anyway. My mind was a bit all over the place at times, as must theirs have been and I literately had no idea what to expect. The tone of the book changed so dramatically throughout and it was like you didn’t finish the same book that you started. This compelling and completely shocking novel is anything but predictable and the author managed to shock me over and over again, right up until the very last page.
I found some parts of this book very wise and philosophical and some of the conversations Johnny and Clem have with Frank and Annie on the boat really did open my eyes and leave me contemplating what they just said. Having said that, this book also covers some dark ground. It’s intense, disturbing and unsettling and the author definitely wasn’t afraid to be open and honest about some truly uncomfortable topics. The way this book is written focuses mainly on the emotions and feelings of the characters rather than the situation itself. The author did this fantastically and instead of just telling us the story she really makes you feel like you’re a part of it which, given the nature of this book, is both thrilling and scary. This tale of young love, adventure and excitement slowly grows into one of hatred, jealousy, and deceit. It was gripping, haunting and chilling and I had to keep reminding myself that it was based on true events. I know I’m probably never going to find out exactly what bits were true and what bits weren’t but I think there’s a part of me that would prefer not to know and leave it as a mystery – just like the deepest and darkest depths of the ocean.
“He was an adventurer and adventurer’s went on adventures”.
Hi Clara, thanks for answering my questions. Can you tell us what your book, ‘The Boat’ is about?
Two young lovers hitch a ride on a yacht and are then becalmed in the Mediterranean Sean with their hosts. Things go horribly wrong. The underlying theme of the book is the loss of innocence.
Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
From my life, as always.
As some of it is based on true events, was it difficult to get them down in writing in a way that people would want to read? Was there any part of you that was hesitant in sharing your experiences?
Yes, it was difficult to weave reality into fiction, to create a shape out of the mess of human experience. But I enjoyed the challenge. Of course I was hesitant about sharing my life and in some ways I wish it could remain private knowledge that the book is based on my life, but I have only myself to blame for that. I have been persuaded that a book is more interesting to the reader when they know it’s based on truth. So I sell my soul….
Some aspects of the book were quite difficult to read about, how did you feel writing these scenes?
I knew that the story hung on those scenes and therefore I approached them with some excitement. What you read is the result of years of rewrites. I had to get the tone just right.
The parts of the book that were based on real life events, were they exaggerated or changed in any way or did you write them exactly how they happened?
I had to change things, to mold events into a cohesive plot. Nothing was exaggerated though; if anything I underplayed certain elements.
If ‘The Boat’ was made into a film, who would be your dream cast?
Dream casting: brilliant unknowns. But Hollywood casting: George Clooney for Frank. Carey Mulligan for Clem. A young Paul Newman for Johnny! Any suggestions?
If the book had a soundtrack what 3 perfect songs would you use to express it?
Aztec Camera: Oblivious.
Cat Stevens: Wild world.
Jimmy Cliff: Many Rivers to Cross.
Was it difficult to get traditionally published and were you happy with your decision to go with Head of Zeus?
My last book was published by Penguin and I had assumed they would publish this one. But I was wrong. It’s a fickle world – slings and arrows and all that jazz. From the moment I met Laura Palmer (Hof Z), I wanted to go with her. She is incisive, perceptive and responsive. She is brilliant, so lucky me.
What is your favourite place you’ve visited in the world?
Sri Lanka, even though one of the hotels we arrived at had been blown up.
What words of wisdom would you give to aspiring writers out there?
Have a story that you just have to tell.
Which 4 famous people (dead or alive) would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Joseph (Jesus’s non -biological dad, I’d love to hear his version of events)
Mary Magdalene (and hers of course)
Robert Downey Junior (just for fun)
And Germaine Greer (so it all kicks off)
Do you prefer writing or acting? What is the most rewarding?
Ultimately I prefer writing because acting is an interpretation of a creation, whereas writing is the giving birth. I like to be at the very beginning of things.
For you, is social media an important part of the process when writing a book?
What are some of your personal favourite books/authors?
I know it sounds pretentious but War and Peace has to be the greatest book ever written (except for the last fifty pages).
Recently I read ‘The Given Day’ by Dennis Lehane. So very good.
Do you have any other books lined up that you’re able to tell us about?
I have ideas cooking away but at the moment I am writing for television.
Clara Salaman is a novelist, screenwriter and actress. She is best known for her role as DS Clare Stanton in ITV’s The Bill for which she was nominated for Best Actress at the Notional Television Awards. She lives in South London with her partner and two children. The Boat is her second novel.
You can find The Boat on the following links