Q&A with Cath Crowley – author of Words in Deep Blue

Sometimes in life you have the good fortune to read a book which takes your breath away for all the right reasons. The last book which did this for me was Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley. It’s a beautiful story and an emotional read set in Howling Books – a bookstore which was almost a character of the novel itself.

I feel very lucky today to be sharing with you all a Q&A with Cath Crowley as part of the Pan Macmillian blog tour.

Words in Deep Blue

Q&A with Cath Crowley

  • What inspired you to write Words in Deep Blue?

The idea for this book came from a lot of different places. One part of it arrived about six years ago, around my birthday. I received an anonymous text telling me to check my letterbox. I checked it straight away – I was between book ideas – and found a snap lock sandwich bag full of cut up Pablo Neruda poetry. The sender had included an instruction – I was to use the lines of poetry to make a new poem and post it within twenty-four hours.  Other messages came over the following weeks. One sent me to the State Library, where my sender had hidden messages in books that were shelved in the permanent collection. I had forty-eight hours to find them. I located all but one. Even though it took a while for Words in Deep Blue to become a fully developed plot, the idea of mysteries in books was planted.

  • Howling Books, the bookstore in Words in Deep Blue, is a prominent setting for the book. What is your favourite bookstore?

I have so many favourite bookstores. I love The Sun Bookshop and The Younger Sun in Yarraville. Alice’s Bookshop in Rathdowne Street Carton and The Known World in Ballarat are two of my favourite second-hand bookstores.

  • Do you write to music? Did you have a Words in Deep Blue soundtrack?

I wrote Graffiti Moon to music, and Chasing Charlie Duskin (A Little Wanting Song. But with Words in Deep Blue I had books scattered around me, quotes on scraps of paper. So books were the backing track to this one – David Mitchell, Pablo Neruda, e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot, Charles Dickens, Junot Diaz, Fiona Wood, Simmone Howell, Kirsty Eagar, Borges.

  • Did you always want to be a writer?

Looking back, I’d say yes. Because I always loved telling stories and I always loved reading. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was thirty, though. And then I knew it was what I wanted to do.

  • Has writing your books ever lead you into interesting situations in the name of research?

It always leads to interesting situations, I think. Whether I’m in bed reading an article another author’s process, or in second-hand bookshops sneaking letters into books to see if a stranger will write back to me, I’m learning something new, experiencing something new, getting ideas. For me, the highlight of researching Words in Deep Blue was talking to the owner of Alice’s Bookshop. She told me about all the hidden stories in old books, all the things she’d found. I had this great feeling that there’s even more to a story than the words in the page. There are stories within stories everywhere.

  • Some of your books revolve around sport, art and music. Are these things you’re passionate about? Outside of writing, what are some of your favourite hobbies?

I love films and art and books and music. For me, these are the things that make life worthwhile. And friends. And conversation. And writing. My novels are about those things, partly, because I’m preoccupied with how art, in all its forms, makes life better. It’s commentary, it’s therapy, it’s beauty, it’s humanity.

  • Which Aussie YA would you recommend to anyone who loves reading local fiction?
    What is the last book you read?

I’d recommend Emily Gale’s The Other Side of Summer – a gorgeous read. The last book I read wasn’t Aussie YA but I loved it – We Were Liars by E.Lockahrt.  Claire Zorn is on my wish list though – The Sky so Heavy.

  • What are some of your favourite things about being an author?

I love the start of an idea – when I’m dreaming and writing and not worrying so much about structure because it’s too early. I like when things are new. I love the rearranging and fine-tuning of sentences, and that’s really the thing that gets me up in the morning. I love reading author’s I love and thinking – this is possible. If I get better as a writer, strive hard; this might be possible.

  • Can you tell us a little about what we can expect to see next from you?

My next project is a novel that I’m working on with the very talented writers Fiona Wood and Simmone Howell. It’s out next year. It’s the most fun I’ve had writing for a while.


About Cath Crowley

Cath Crowley’s last novel, Graffiti Moon, won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2011 and the NSW Premier’s Award Ethel Turner Prize. It was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Award for Older Readers, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Writing for Young Adults and the Queensland Premier’s Young Adult Book Award. Cath’s other books include Chasing Charlie Duskin, Gracie Faltrain Takes Control, Gracie Faltrain Gets It Right (Finally), The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain and Rosie Staples’ Minor Magical Misunderstanding. Cath is based in Melbourne.

Thank you so much Cath for taking the time to answer my questions. I loved reading your responses and can’t wait to read your collaboration with Simmone and Fiona!

For those of you who enjoyed this guest post, there are many other stops on the Words in Deep Blue blog tour for you to find out more about the novel and Cath.


Words in Deep Blue tour schedule

August 15: The YA Chronicles
August 30: Words Read and Written
August 30: Picnic Reads
August 30: Bookish Friends
September 2: Angel Reads
September 2: Happy Indulgence
September 5: Nice Girls Read Books
September 6: Fictional Thoughts
September 8: 1 Girl 2 Many Books
September 8: Tea & Titles
September 11: Angel Reads
September 13: Tien’s Blurb
September 15: Fiction in Fiction in Fiction
September 15: YA Reads
September 16: Diva Book Nerd
September 20: Written Word Worlds
September 27: Hey Teenager of the Year

One Comment

  1. BUT WHO WAS THE STRANGER WHO WROTE THOSE TEXTS??? That’s what I want to know. The most mysterious thing that’s happened to me was finding a post-it note in my suitcase that said “bring hat and aircraft carrier.” I was sufficiently confused, but Cath’s story certainly beats mine.

    Also, this book is incredible.

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