Katie Z., Goodreads
Published: February 8th, 2022
As Freddy gazes at the majestic river gushing past him in the depths of a Scottish winter, he's ready to jump in and end his life. But what happens next is not what Freddy expects. From the moment he enters the river, Freddy starts a journey which is more beautiful, funny, and mysterious than he could have imagined. And through this journey, Freddy's story becomes interweaved with a cast of unforgettable characters who are equally lost and in search of answers. Eventually, they all unite in their quest for an answer to the biggest question of them all: will the river take them where they want to go?
In the tradition of inspirational works of fiction like The Alchemist and Life of Pi, Secrets of a River Swimmer is at once a profound exploration into living with meaning and an affecting story of people on the cusp of change.
As an author, what scares me the most.
In my experience, being a writer means getting to know yourself well. Regardless of what your story is about, your writing always reflects you at a deeper level. I remember the first time I read my novel Secrets of a River Swimmer as a reader rather than the writer. It was like sitting next to myself at a dinner party for the first time. Each and every word on the page reflected elements of my character back at me. And amidst the story, it wasn’t hard to see what scares me the most as a writer. In fact, it’s a key theme within the novel and builds towards a powerful climax at the end. What I’m most scared of is not doing the best I can with my time, not living a meaningful life, not achieving fulfilment. Translation: being an average writer is a terrifying idea for me.
Maybe that’s why I’m focused on the literary fiction genre where resides the more unique and eccentric writing of the writing world. It’s not like the murder mystery genre which shares a common blueprint. Literary fiction is about seeing the world from unique and different perspectives. It’s about pushing the boat out and seeing where it goes as opposed to knowing where it goes before it leaves. It’s the perfect genre for authors like me who want to push the envelope rather than follow the more trodden writing career footpaths. It’s no surprise I’m loving writing in this genre. And it won’t be a shock to my readers to hear I’ll do my best to write unique novels which readers remember for their uniqueness and their lack of averageness.
My thoughts drift to picture what life as a gillie must be like. I imagine you start the day by carrying all the fishing equipment your fat and wealthy clients will need for a day of luxurious and fully-catered fishing. You carry everything while they take it easy, and you locate the best spot to fish for the largest possible salmon. Your local knowledge about fishing spots has to be extraordinary. You then set up the fishing rod, position your client in the right spot, and talk them through what they need to do to catch that magic fish they’re all searching for. Of course, your clients are always searching for the largest catch of the season, so they can go home and brag to their friends and family about what skilled fishermen they are. It’s obvious to you, if not to them, that the subtext is being able to sing to the world that they have massive willies, bigger than everyone else’s.
Beyond fishing, you’re forced to listen to whatever the hell it is your clients want to talk about for the eight long hours you’re on the river. Your clients are all obscenely wealthy, so it’s more than likely you’ll hear a lot of moaning about all the small things in life they’d like changed. Many of them will complain about local wind farm developments, council plans to develop their neighborhood, and, of course, the big one: immigration. They all believe immigrants are responsible for all the problems in the world. These people are your quintessential NIMBYs, and will always complain about progress if it affects them in any way, no matter how minor. You do whatever you can to bring the conversation back to fishing because it’s an easier conversation for you, and less productive grounds for their complaining. They’re slowly sucking the life out of you with their negativity, so you carefully select your words to bring the conversation onto a more positive pathway. And, of course, your ultimate back-up plan, as it is for many British people, is to pull out the ultimate conversation filler when you’re at rock bottom: the weather. Yes, it’s a desperate move and the equivalent of holding up a white flag, but needs must.
About the author:
S.S. Turner has been an avid reader, writer, and explorer of the natural world throughout his life which has been spent in England, Scotland and Australia. Just like Freddy in his first novel, Secrets of a River Swimmer, he worked in the global fund management sector for many years but realized it didn't align with his values. In recent years, he's been focused on inspiring positive change through his writing as well as trying not to laugh in unfortunate situations. He now lives in Australia with his wife, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and ten chickens.
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