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Mid-July Author Stalker with Leah Swann!

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

The lovely Leah surrounded by copies of her breaktaking novel, Sheerwater.

I have long called Hannah Richell's novel The Shadow Year the best book I have ever read. It now shares that honour with Leah Swann's breathtaking novel, Sheerwater.

From the moment Leah's publisher, the fabulous Catherine Milne, raved about it at Fiona McIntosh's national conference in Adelaide last October, it has been on my 'must-read' list. And the moment it landed on my Kindle back in March of this year, I started reading and just couldn't stop.

OH MY GOD! This book will rip your heart into a million tiny pieces but it tells a story that must be told. It has been etched into my soul and will stay with me forever. Even now, almost four months later, I remember it all so clearly. And I think I have recommended it to more people than any other book I have read.

The characters will embed themselves in your heart, especially beautiful Max and his baby brother Teddy. It is a story of love and of pain, of incredible strength and resilience. It is also a story of domestic violence and the irrevocable impact it has on the lives of those who suffer at the hands of those who claim to love them the most.

Read it. Share it. It is a story full of voices that people need to hear.

Without further ado, I will hand you over to the gorgeous Leah.xx

Q1: What piece of advice do you wish you'd been given when working on your very first manuscript?

A: The first draft is really the raw clay that you’ll shape the book from -- it’s not the book yet! You can’t just fix up the typos and send it out to publishers.

Q2: If you could have written ANY book besides your own, what would it be?

A: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Q3: What is the first book that made you cry?

A: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Q4: Coffee, tea, wine or ? (what is your favourite drink?)

A: Coffee is my favourite, but I drink gallons of tea, especially when I’m writing!

Q5: What is the next book on your TBR (to be read) pile?

A: The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel

Hard at work. Leah in her light-filled writing space.

Q6: Choose one male & one female character from your novel. In a film adaptation, who would you love to see play them?

A: I think Simon Baker has the charm to play Lawrence. And I’d love Leah Purcell to play the Detective Ballard, although she’s more attractive than how Ballard is described. She has that quality of mental toughness and sharp intelligence.

Q7: Name one thing you couldn't live without?

A: Love.

Q8: What is your dream holiday destination?

A: Spain. Great art and architecture during the day, a flamenco bar at night.

Q9: If you had to choose a career besides writer, what would it be?

A: I’d work for ASIO as a spy. Or a painter. Can’t decide!

Q10: What's the hardest scene you have ever written and why was it so hard?

A: The final scenes of Sheerwater. I rewrote them so many times. It was hard because I wanted the story to end one way but the story itself insisted on a different direction. I’d spent so long on the book and knew the ending had to be got right and found myself learning that stories have a hidden form that you’re uncovering as you go along. I’ve had this experience with short stories too. When the symbols become coherent – that’s when you’re onto something.

'A powerful new voice in Australian literary fiction'

'Emotional, powerful, unforgettable. From a stunning new Australian literary talent, Sheerwater is an un-putdownable novel.

Ava and her two young sons, Max and Teddy, are driving to their new home in Sheerwater, hopeful of making a fresh start in a new town, although Ava can't stop looking over her shoulder. They're almost at their destination when they witness a shocking accident - a light plane crashing in the field next to the road. Ava stops to help, but when she gets back to the car, she realizes that somewhere, amongst the smoke, fire and confusion, her sons have gone missing...

Beautifully written, propulsive, emotional and gut-wrenching, Sheerwater is an achingly powerful story of the heroic acts we are capable of in the name of love – perfect for readers of Mark Brandi's Wimmera, Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident and Stephanie Bishop's The Other Side of the World.'

'Sheerwater is that rare gift of a book that balances gorgeous, glittering language with breathless pace. Leah Swann writes with devastating honesty ... This is an extraordinary novel - I tore through it, captivated by the imagery and the setting, desperately hoping for a happy ending.' – Rebecca Starford, author of Bad Behavior, co-founder and publishing director of Kill Your Darlings.

Thank you Leah for being my July 15th Author Stalker victim. xx

Sheerwater is available through all leading bookstores and online.

If you would like to find out more about Leah, you can find her here:

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Shelley Gardner
Shelley Gardner
16 jul. 2020

I lost my heart to him too Catherine. Thanks for your lovely comment too.xx


Yes, this novel is totally heart-wrenching, I’m so glad you also feel under its spell. And Max! I so lost my heart to that beautiful boy. Thank you for your insightful reading!

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