Below is an interview with Louise Candlish, author of The Swimming Pool, by Wendy Moore, author and freelance journalist. The interview first appeared in SEnine Magazine.

  • Elthamread
  • You were born in Hexham, Northumberland, and later moved to Northampton. How long have you lived in London? And do you consider yourself a Londoner now?

    I've lived in London for exactly 30 years and certainly consider myself a Londoner. I think I did the day I arrived, to be honest. The only real dilemma has been whether I'm a North Londoner or a South Londoner (I lived in North London until 2000, when I moved to Battersea to be with my boyfriend, now my husband).

  • You live in Herne Hill. How do you think south and north London differ?

    For the first few years of living in South London I used to feel very emotional when I returned somewhere like Camden or Islington or Hampstead, because I knew I was back in my spiritual home. I felt that North London was Bohemian and intellectual and that South London was full of Philistine rugger-bugger types. But now I know South London for the exuberant melting pot it is and I see myself as a card-carrying South Londoner. Ultimately, where you raise your family is your home.

  • You worked in publishing previously but when did you start writing novels? How difficult was it to get your first novel published?

    My first novel The Island Hideaway was published in 2004, though the book was written and the deal done in 2002. This was a different era and, I didn't realise then, an easier one. The book was sold straight away to a big publisher and there were posters on the Tube and I thought that was simply the norm. I think it would be harder now to get the same commitment for what was essentially a simple, sweet story. Publishing is more concerned than ever with authors who bring with them a readymade celebrity or following. Having said that, the internet and self-publishing have made the industry more democratic. Now a book blogger with a passion for his or her genre is as powerful as an Oxbridge-educated critic on a national newspaper. I like that. Closed circles are, by definition, only useful to a very limited number of people.

  • Sorry – this is such a cliché – but where do you find inspiration for your plots?

    From current affairs and local news and anecdotes, or from my observations of people's behaviour. There's no doubt that fact is far more incredible than fiction. I'm also inspired by the mood a song might evoke, or a film or episode of TV, or a line I've liked in a magazine. Sometimes I'll be inspired directly by a classic work: The Second Husband was a sort of retelling of Lolita and The Disappearance of Emily Marr was inspired by a book by Heinrich Boll, The Lost Honour of Katarina BlumThe Swimming Pool was partly inspired by the classic French film La Piscine, starring Alain Delon and Romy Schneider.

  • Which authors do you admire/inspire you?

    I love Tom Wolfe, both for his writing and his writerly persona: dapper, glamorous, wry. Jonathan Franzen, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler and Anita Shreve are other favourites. I really enjoy the new generation of US writers like Maggie Shipstead: Seating Arrangements is my idea of the perfect weekend read. In the UK I'm a fan of Rachel Cusk and Maggie O'Farrell. Most recently, my brother has got me into Somerset Maugham. In terms of direct inspiration, I would have to look at early favourites like Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie and Evelyn Waugh.

  • On the Swimming Pool – what made you choose a lido? Is it based on an actual lido? (Interestingly we had an Eltham Lido which closed down about 20 years ago but the campaign to reopen it failed).

    It's based on Brockwell Lido in Brixton/Herne Hill, which is at the end of my road. I've been eyeing it for years as a likely location and have been waiting for the right plot to land. I love the otherness of a walled kingdom, be it a pool or a garden. With a pool there is such potential for disaster, for the worst-case scenario five minutes that devastate a life, maybe even end it.

  • You describe the book as a ‘cautionary tale’. Why is that?

    It's cautionary in the sense that the main character Natalie disregards what she knows and loves in favour of a completely unknown quantity, her new friend Lara. Appreciate what you've already got is the message. Love those who have demonstrated their loyalty and worth. You might have a yearning for glamour or wealth or sexual adventure but, be warned, it may come at a price.

  • The book has been described as having a ‘noir’ feel. Were you inspired by films? Hitchcock?

    La Piscine was a big influence, as was Plein Soleil (the French film of The Talented Mr Ripley), another Alain Delon classic. I thought a lot about old Hollywood when I was writing the novel, the very melancholy contrast between the dream and the reality. Of course I love Hitchcock, all suspense writers do. My favourite is Vertigo. But in the end, I'm English and this is a very English book. It's a suburban-London book.