10 questions: Emma Pusill, co-author of The Lido Guide

Straight to it today, so without any fanfare, here's Emma Pusill to tell us about her book The Lido Guide, coming soon from Unbound Publishing: 

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Emma Pusill, and together with Janet Wilkinson, I’m writing The Lido Guide. It’s just as well you asked what it’s about, because the title is a bit oblique. Maybe we need to work on that.

Anyway, in a nutshell, it’s a user guide to all the publicly accessible open-air pools in the UK and Channel Islands.

Emma Pusill

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because I’ll be massively offended if they don’t.

Aside from sparing my feelings, however, this book will appeal to:

·         Swimmers

·         Dippers

·         Bobbers

·         Non-swimmers who like to hang out in nice places

·         Tea drinkers

·         Cake fans

·         Architecture fans

·         People who need a pitstop during long journies but would rather chew their own left leg off than use service stations

·         Day trippers

·         Sun worshippers

·         Rain gods

·         People who like warm water

·         People who like cold water

·         Picnic lovers

·         Folk interested in community enterprise / volunteering

·         Photography fans

·         Relatives of any of the above who have run out of ideas for what to get said relative for birthday / Christmas gifts

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

Anybody who falls into any of the above categories will find the book invaluable because it will help them to find around 120 outdoor pools, where all of the above passions (and many more besides) can be indulged. It’ll give all the information needed to find and contact the pools, a description of what it’s like to swim there and advance warning of any quirks. You really don’t want to be finding out about coin-operated showers when you’ve already lathered up the shampoo and are frantically trying to make the water work. Yes. That’s bitter personal experience.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

The book is due out in Spring 2019. It’s fully funded, so if you preorder via https://unbound.com/books/lidoguide/ you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home – it’ll land right on the doormat. How cool is that? After launch, it’ll be available online and offline, and you can expect it to be stocked in some quirky places, including pools. Some of those pools won’t even be outdoor pools, which we hope will help bridge the indoor/outdoor divide. And if we can manage to resolve that thorny bit of tribalism bringing together both sides of the Brexit debate should be a doddle.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

My half of The Lido Guide was written, almost entirely, on a sun lounger in Tenerife. You have no idea how much I wish I could say that was typical.

Other writing is squashed in around single-parenting, two fairly demanding jobs and trying (mostly in vain of late) to do some actual swimming.

Because of that I often find I am writing in unusual places. To date these have included:

·         Swimming pool spectator galleries

·         Public libraries hundreds of miles from home

·         Cafes – tip: bacon fat and laptop keyboards will never be best friends

·         Pubs – tip: self-discipline required in even larger than usual quantities

·         Supermarket carparks

·         Atop tiny single beds in cheap B&Bs

·         A-road laybys

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

It’s the only book I’ve read that could even remotely be said to be ‘about writing’. Which makes why I have chosen it plain.

But isn’t it just about running, I hear you ask? Well, yes. Mostly. But it also sheds light on Murakami’s approach to writing, what he sees as good qualities for a novelist and writing’s place in his life alongside running.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Jenny Landreth’s Swimming London is everything a good guidebook should be. It captures all the dry, practical knowledge and coats it in personal experience.

Bella Bathurst’s The Lighthouse Stevensons was the first book I read that showed me how factual material could worked into a captivating story akin to a novel.

Dava Sobel’s Galileo’s Daughter deftly draws together what is known from historical evidence, and what can only be extrapolated from that evidence in a work that bridges the gap between fact and fiction. I write some fiction, although not as much as I’d like to, and I invariably find that what I write is part fact, part fiction. I don’t usually set out that way, but that’s what seems to want to come out of my fingers. The piece I had published in Watermarks, an anthology edited by Tanya Shadrick, is a perfect example of that. A story built on a foundation of fact, but nevertheless not factual.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

An etymological dictionary

Essential Sources In The Scientific Study Of Consciousness – Baars, Banks, Newman

Feminism and the Third Republic – Paul Smith

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Beyond extolling the virtues of sun-loungers and a warm climate I’d advocate peace, quiet and time. And drafting. And re-drafting. And cups of tea.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Two middle-aged women cover thousands of miles, driven by an inexplicable (to their loved ones) need to seek out outdoor pools. Along their way they experience adversity – pools that close because of a drop of rain, pools that are closed when the sign on the door very definitely says open (as does their website), picnics eaten in car parks thanks to said closed pools, traffic jams, flight diversions, testosterone fuelled triathletes having punch ups in the deep end, cafes that have run out of cake. But, ultimately, the adversity gives way to triumph; they swim in the rain, they swim in the sun, they talk to the thousands of humble volunteers who keep pools afloat, they learn about themselves, each other, and the richness of communities where not everything has to be about money.

Social media contacts: @lidoguide on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/lidoguide/