Thursday, 26 May 2016

Q&A with Louise Candlish for Greek Week

Louise Candlish explains why she chose the Cyclades island of Santorini for the setting of her bestseller Since I Don’t Have You

What led you to Santorini?

I had developed an obsession with the island from seeing photographs of it, often in the context of romantic getaways. But actually I responded more to the summertime sadness feel of the place: the high cliffs, the lonely white paths, the blue sea and sky all around, it’s so cut off and otherly. So when I was thinking about places where the grieving Rachel might flee, I knew it would be perfect. I went there on my own for a week or two and lived as I thought she might, in one of the secret houses cut into the rock, emerging every so often into the dazzling light, hardly speaking to anyone.

What is it that makes the Greek islands so special?

For me, it’s the light, especially in the evening. I have not seen that light anywhere else. It’s almost heart-breakingly soft and pure.

What impact did Since I Don’t Have You have on your career?

The book was a big hit and so put my writing on the map. It did well in other territories too, though was never published in Greece, which seems a shame. It began a run of novels set on islands, including The Disappearance of Emily Marr, set on the Ile de Ré in France. In each case, I’ve put a despairing individual among carefree holidaymakers; but the carefree are never truly so (that’s my cheerful message…).

Have you returned to Greece?

I have, and in fact got involved in a medical drama that could easily be a plotline in one of my books. I’d gone with my husband and young daughter to Skopelos (known as the Mamma Mia island) for a two-week break, when, on day three, I lost my sight in one eye. We had to make an emergency dash to the mainland and then Athens and then, finally, Moorfields Hospital in London, for me to have surgery. It turned out to be a detached retina. Far scarier than the blindness or the surgery was the taxi journey into Athens. The driver was the most reckless motorist I’ve ever encountered – I genuinely thought we were going to die. At Athens Hospital, the surgeon told me I’d have to wait, because their policy was to prioritize victims of car accidents. I thought, well, I’ll never get to the top of that list, so we caught the next plane to London.

Will you set another book in Greece?

I have no plans to, though I do enjoy reading other novels set there. I have Isabelle Broom’s My Map of You on my TBR pile right now and just looking at the cover is stirring my Greece-loving blood. One of my all-time favourite novels is The Magus by John Fowles, set on a remote Greek island, and I’m due a re-read of that.

Where next?

My two most recent books have been set in the London suburbs, hotbeds of adultery and unease. I’ve sort of settled there for now.

Since I Don’t Have You is published by Little, Brown

Louise’s new release The Swimming Pool is published by Penguin


© Heather McCarry
Louise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and now lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband and daughter. She is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Swimming Pool, and of the short story The Intruder at Number 40.

Find out more at or follow Louise on Twitter @louise_candlish

Thank you so much Louise for appearing on Rachel's Random Reads, I read Since I Don't Have you years ago when it came out and thoroughly enjoyed it. Good luck with your new book The Swimming Pool which is also fabulous! 

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