Libby Page is the author of The Lido. A perfect summer read when you're sitting by the pool and catching some rays.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Libby Page, an author and keen outdoor swimmer living in London, England. My debut novel The Lido is published in the US in July 2018.
What made you want to write this story?
The book is set in Brixton, a neighborhood in South London where I lived as a student. Although it is a busy, somewhat hectic area, I was also really struck by the strong sense of community there. But I noticed that it is a community under threat with big chains moving in and rising rental prices pushing out small business owners who have lived and worked there for generations and threatening spaces like libraries and independent shops. It made me think about what we lose when these special community places disappear from our towns and cities, and the importance of protecting the places we love. As I’m a keen swimmer myself the lido (or outdoor pool) seemed a great place to discuss these themes of community. At lidos people of all backgrounds come together and share special moments – they aren’t just pools, there are real hubs of the community. The idea grew from there.
Which character do you think you are most like?
When I first moved to London as an eighteen-year-old I shared similarities with Kate: I came from a small town and found the city overwhelming at first. Now I’d like to think I’m more like Rosemary. My local community is really important to me: I like to shop at my local greengrocers and have become friendly with the owners of the nearby café where I often go to write. I also swim regularly and it has made me much more comfortable in my body than I was when I was younger. Like Rosemary, I now don’t hesitate about getting undressed in the communal changing room. It’s where the best chat is!
How long did it take to write?
I spent about six months planning the book, then a year writing it. After that came another year of trying to get a literary agent in order to get published.
Do you have any stories about being a kid and going to a public pool?
I went swimming a lot as a child, particularly when my sister and I went to stay with my grandparents – they always took us to the local pool. Near my hometown there was also a small outdoor pool in a local village that we had lessons in when I was very little: I remember the water being freezing but there being a lovely view of the countryside beyond the walls. But as much as I enjoyed it, I was never a very confident swimmer – I was more of a splasher than anything else. It’s only over recent years that I’ve become much more seriously interested in swimming and have learned to be more confident in the water.
What has it been like seeing your book blow up in the media and have it acquired for film rights? Did you ever picture this book being turned into a movie?
This has all been very surreal for me as I really wrote The Lido because it was a story I wanted to tell and because I love writing. I didn’t have any real expectations of it getting published – I just wrote it because I wanted to. But now that it is out there in the world it is such a joy for me to hear people responding positively to it. And selling the film rights was very exciting! I never expected it to be made into a film but I certainly did picture certain scenes very visually when I was writing. A lido is just such a beautiful setting that I can certainly picture it very clearly: the light on the turquoise water, people jumping in and splashing, the sky blue above it all… They are very cinematic places!
What do you love about Kate and Rosemary's relationship?
I love that Kate and Rosemary’s friendship prove that age doesn’t need to be a barrier to friendship. The emotions we feel are universal, regardless of our age and background. Kate and Rosemary are united in some ways by their loneliness: they experience it for very different reasons but the feelings are the same. But they also come to share a love of outdoor swimming, and I think interests like this can be a great way to meet people from all walks of life. Both Kate and Rosemary learn so much from each other and grow as women because of their friendship, which is what I think good friends do for us – regardless of what age they are.
Fun Facts about Libby Page the author of The Lido
Libby Page went to The London College of Fashion with a BA in fashion journalism and then went onto work at The Guardian. At 23 she quit her job and traveled around the U.K. swimming, and figuring out how to write this novel. Her hard work paid off with a published book and film rights sold. Find her book in the U.S. wherever it's sold out July 10, 2018, by Simon and Schuster UK. Follow her on Twitter @LibbyPageWrites and Instagram @TheSwimmingSisters.
If you were stuck on an abandoned island what five items would you want with you?
My luxury items would be an enormous notebook, my fountain pen and an endless supply of ink cartridges (I don’t know if that counts as one item!) so I could write. Practical items would be a penknife and a water filtration system!
If you could meet any author living or dead and have a croquet match with them who would you play against?
As a child I was a huge fan of the Harry Potter books, so the child in me would have to say JK Rowling! I just love how she inspired a whole generation of children to really love reading and I find her a very inspiring individual.
If you could go back in time where would you travel to?
Difficult question! My best friend lives in Paris, in Montmartre, and I try to visit her a couple of times a year. I’m really interested in the history of the area – the old cabaret clubs where famous bohemian artists and writers hung out together in the late 19th / early 20th century. So I’d say I’d love to go back to Paris during that era just to witness it all and see the area I know so well when it was alive with artists and creative people. It would make walking around the area today with my friend even more special.