Hi friends! I’m so excited to welcome back Beth Kery! Her most recent release is Swim Deep, which I even reviewed (a rarity!) We also had an exclusive excerpt of the book which you can check out if you missed it earlier. I think this post really helps sum up how I felt about the book upon reading it. I really do hope you read it because I need to talk to someone about it. You guys!!! Anyway, without further ado…. Beth!
By Beth Kery
For almost everyone who did an early read of my new novel, Swim Deep, I heard a similar theme: What would you call it in regard to genre? Was it a suspense? A thriller? A romance? Maybe a contemporary suspense/thriller with romantic and paranormal elements? That’s too much of a mouthful . . . plus it leaves way too many possibilities. When it comes to Swim Deep, I have a feeling that every reader will have a different idea of how to label this novel. No matter what the reader calls it, my hope is that it takes her on an entertaining, thrilling ride for a few hours.
I get the idea of wanting to pin down a genre before I read a book. It helps you to choose a book based on your mood. Do I feel curling up with a cozy mystery, or freaking myself out a little bit with a horror or a thriller? Usually, a writer starts out knowing before she ever places the first word on the page what it is she’s writing, be it a romance with a happily-ever-after, a suspense, or a paranormal tale. That knowledge guides the way the story begins, unfolds and ends, and tells her the expectations for the hero and heroine. When it came to Swim Deep, though, it was the story that came to me first. It was the plot and certain vivid scenes in my mind that guided me more than any rigid rules in regard to genre.
Another thing I heard from my agent and editor (and even Limecello herself!) when they began reading Swim Deep was: Is it like Rebecca? As a huge and enduring fan of the Daphne Du Maurier classic, I was pleased that they noticed my homage to the popular gothic novel. That brings me to the genre gothic, of which Rebecca is often labeled.
I found a description online of gothic fiction: a style of writing that is characterized by elements of fear, horror, and death, as well as romantic elements, such as nature, individuality, and very high emotion. Does this describe Swim Deep? Maybe it is a Contemporary Gothic, to some extent. There are departures, though. The heroine, Anna, may be be naïve at first, but she’s no typical damsel in distress. She is the heroine of her story, and Swim Deep is definitely her story.
It might be the setting that makes Swim Deep a Contemporary Gothic more than anything. In Swim Deep, newlyweds Anna and Evan go to Les Jumeaux, a beautiful, haunting mansion set on the shore of dramatic and stunning Lake Tahoe. Les Jumeaux is a captivating, magical place . . . but it’s also a home of secrets and shadows.
My inspiration for Swim Deep came from many sources aside from Rebecca, however. There are notes from the film Chinatown in it, and of course my own knowledge of mental illness and brainwashing that comes from my background in clinical psychology. Maybe one of my biggest inspirations originated from visiting the lakeside mansion the Thunderbird Lodge and learning about its owner. https://thunderbirdtahoe.org. I don’t want to include any spoilers for Swim Deep here, but for me, I sensed many secrets in that stunning home that weren’t the kind of thing that a tour guide can elaborate on in a family-friendly tour. That isn’t to say that the Thunderbird or its owner’s secrets were anything akin to Les Jumeaux’s eerie enigmas—those came strictly from my imagination! But that mansion on the rocky shore of Lake Tahoe definitely held some mysteries.
Maybe that is the best description of a gothic novel, even if it has a modern feel, like Swim Deep does.
It’s all about the secrets.
She’d made a career out of studying light, but now she’s entered a seductive, dangerous world of shadow and lies . . .
Anna Solas, poor artist working two jobs, is swept away by Evan Halifax, his charm and his good looks, and marries too quickly for her family’s comfort. Evan takes Anna to his stunning lakeside mansion the North Twin on the Les Jumeaux estate, where she discovers he lived with his first wife Elizabeth until her disappearance and presumed death. He says they can live anywhere Anna wants to, but his explanations unravel bit by bit. Anna is increasingly uneasy, wondering what really went on in the decadent home theatre, who is watching her from the South Twin—the matching home on Lake Tahoe’s shore, and the identity of the nightmare woman who appears to her at night, whispering a message she dreads hearing. She becomes determined to uncover the truth behind Elizabeth’s life in order to save her own sanity.