Saturday, 10 August 2013

#MurderOnTheBeach Blog Tour! Turning Paradise Into Hell - Guest Post By Kate Harrison

Welcome to this stop on the #MurderOnTheBeach blog tour! The tour is bringing exclusive excerpts, interviews and guest posts from Cruel Summer By James Dawson and Soul Storm By Kate Harrison. Today I have a guest post from Kate Harrison in which she explains why she chose to turn paradise into hell. So without further ado here it is: 

Turning paradise into hell – why setting the darkest of stories on the beach is irresistible for Soul Beach author Kate Harrison... 

I’m a beach babe who doesn’t own a bikini. 

I love the sun, but I also love the shadier side of coastal life… and after five years living by the seaside, I see the flaws the tourists miss… 

It’s one of the biggest inspirations for Soul Beach – the reality behind the glamour of beach life. Because there’s always a dark side.

I moved to Barcelona when the idea for Soul Beach was beginning to form in my head. It wasn’t even a beach back then. I had seen the tribute pages on Facebook for young people who’d died unexpectedly, and began to imagine a kind of Facebook for the dead, where they could carry on living their lives and communicate with their loved ones left behind.

As me and my boyfriend took our first walks on Barcelona’s long, sandy beaches that summer, I was fascinated by the life there. Beautiful people were everywhere: hanging out, running, playing volleyball or football on the sand, doing martial arts, or simply eyeing up the talent. In contrast, the London we’d left behind seemed drab and ugly.

But gradually I noticed the other side: petty criminals ready to pounce when tourists take a dip. Drunks and addicts drawn to the shores by some elemental force. And then there were my own fears – could I go swimming when I felt self-conscious about my body? And what did those slim people have to go through to stay looking like that? 

Pretty soon, the idea of Soul Beach – a paradise on the surface, with trauma below –began to crystallise in my imagination. I thought it was the perfect place to explore the difference between what we see, and what’s really going on beneath. So, my dead ‘Guests’ could resume the lives that had been tragically cut short, but in Paradise. I gave them perfect bodies and non-stop fun – sunshine, beach games, a bar with food and drink on tap.

And yet, it’s never quite enough to make them forget their pasts.

The Spanish name for the coast surrounding Barcelona is the Costa Brava – literally, the wild coast. Now I think that all coasts are wild, and that’s their fascination – the way the weather can change in a moment, the craziness that makes people push themselves further, whether it’s swimming against the tide or chatting up someone you’d never dare approach any other time.

Now we’ve moved back to the UK, but to Brighton, where the beach is pebbly and sunshine is not guaranteed, but the contrast between light and shade is even sharper here. Seaside living brings out and best and the worst in people. And in winter, the strangeness is magnified even more, as the ghost of the burned out old pier emerges from the sea. But I could never go back to being land-locked. 

And I still don’t own a bikini… 

Thank you to Kate Harrison for the guest post! Also thank you to Indigo Fierce Fiction for having me as a host on the tour! Both Cruel Summer and Soul Storm are out now! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour! 

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