Tuesday, July 19, 2022

"The Swell"

British-born Allie Reynolds is a former freestyle snowboarder who swapped her snowboard for a surfboard and moved to the Gold Coast in Australia, where she taught English as a foreign language for fifteen years. She still lives in Australia with her family. Reynolds’s short fiction has been published in women’s magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden, and South Africa. Shiver is her debut novel.

Reynolds applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Swell, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Mikki starts climbing. Victor dances from foot to foot, poised to launch himself at the cliff the moment Ryan hits the water…

Mikki is partway up by now. I feel another burst of pride. She’s clearly been practicing because she’s better than she used to be but she’s gasping for breath and toeing everything…

Mikki raises her foot to waist height, without noticing a lower and easier foothold and uses all her strength to haul herself upward. By the time she reaches her marker, her arms are visibly shaking. Sky lets out a small cheer, but Mikki still has a long way to go before she’s safely back at my side.

I glance at the rocks below her. If she fell, what sound would it make?

A sting of a mosquito on my ankle. I slap it without taking my eyes off Mikki. She’s climbing left now. The waves are licking the bottom of the cliff below her but she’s not far enough over yet. The water’s too shallow…
On page 69, the characters are on Sorrow Bay as dusk falls. Kenna, the female protagonist, stands amongst The Tribe – the reclusive group of surfers she has just met – watching her best friend Mikki free climb a dangerous cliff face, racing against another Tribe member – one of The Tribe’s many dangerous challenges. It’s an action scene, one of many in the book, and I think it gives a fairly good idea of my work. Kenna and Mikki have been friends for years. As kids, Kenna was the fearless one and Mikki was the worrier, but the tragic drowning of Kenna’s boyfriend changed Kenna’s attitude to danger and now she’s the cautious one. She watches her friend Mikki climb the cliff with a mix of pride and terror.

Major themes in The Swell are fear and addiction, and how sports can make us stronger, but they can also destroy us. As a former athlete, I’m fascinated by top athletes, especially extreme sports athletes. As part of the research for The Swell, I looked into the reasons why people are drawn to dangerous sports. For some, it’s an outlet: an escape from a boring or high pressure job, or an unhappy family life. Some people are adrenalin junkies, addicted to danger, others feel guilt or a death wish. People who suffer from anxiety or ADHD sometimes say it’s the only time they feel calm.

I hope The Swell gives an insight into the minds of thrill-seekers and lets readers experience the thrill and tension of dangerous sports such as rock climbing and surfing from the safety of their armchair.
Visit Allie Reynolds's website.

Q&A with Allie Reynolds.

Writers Read: Allie Reynolds.

--Marshal Zeringue