I think all writers start first and foremost as readers, which is why it’s so exciting for me to be writing to you lovely fellow booklovers. I’m so thrilled that my debut novel The Lido has been chosen to share with #mybookmoment subscribers and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

As you might guess from the title and cover of my book, I am a keen swimmer and the idea for my book came to me on the poolside. The book is set at Brockwell Lido in Brixton, south London (if you’ve never been I’d highly recommend visiting) and centres around the unlikely friendship between Rosemary, an 86-year-old lifelong swimmer and Kate, a 26-year-old local journalist who is struggling to find her feet in life. The two characters are brought together when the local lido is threatened with closure.

I have lived in London for nearly ten years, but when I first moved from my small town in Dorset I found it really overwhelming. I found it hard to find my place and to deal with the anxiety of living in a big city and starting out in my career. But it was when living in Brixton that I started to see that a sense of community did exist in the big city, I just had to get out of my house and engage with it. I saw it at the local market, at the library, at the local independent bookshop, and at the lido. Lidos are places where people of all backgrounds come together. There is something very freeing and unifying about stripping down to your swimwear. It makes you feel connected to those around you, somehow.

Another thing that struck me when swimming at the lido were the amazing older women I saw – and still see every time I go for a swim, regardless of where I am swimming. Older women, often in nothing but a floral swimming costume, jumping into cold water while teenagers huddle on the side, shivering. I loved the idea of creating an older female character who is headstrong and feisty.

My book contains many themes, all things I really care about – friendship, mental health, loneliness and the importance of community. My main hope is that as you read you come to root for the characters and the community. And perhaps you might also feel inspired to seek out your local lido and go for a swim. I promise you won’t regret it.