How did you come up with the title? Initially, I couldn’t, so all my working file for The Storm Bottle are in a file simply called ‘Dolphin’. But as soon as the title came to me I knew it was the right one. However, I’m not sure exactly what it refers to. There is an object called a storm bottle in the story, but its largely incidental. Bottles in general do feature very prominently – the narrator, Bibi, collects antique bottles that she finds washed up on the shores of Bermuda (if you visit Bermuda, you can find them yourself, or buy some of the best ones in gift shops – the islands were an accident black spot for shipwrecks). But equally, ‘bottle’ could refer to the bottlenose dolphins that are major characters – and one in particular has a strong connection to storms. So is he the ‘storm bottle’? Or it may be that the term storm bottle is more figurative, and refers to an ancient secret that is discovered late in the story. Possibly it refers to all of these things. That’s why I like it: it’s a multi-tasking title.
How did you develop your plot and characters? The basic element of the plot was my initial idea: I knew that a boy would saved from drowning by a dolphin, but that in that near-death experience he and the dolphin would swap bodies. The rest of the story flowed from the demands of that set-up: how would you switch them back? How would you find the dolphin, out there in the ocean? How could you identify it? Who would be conducting this search? Bibi arose as a natural candidate, being obsessed with boats and the ocean, something of a loner and obsessive, but also indomitable and – shall we say – extremely open-minded. Her voice ended up shaping the story – she became the first-person narrator, the first and so far only time that I’ve written from that point of view.
The Storm Bottle Swimming with dolphins is said to be the number one thing to do before you die. For 12-year-old Michael, it very nearly is. A secret boat trip has gone tragically wrong, and now he lies unconscious in hospital. But when Michael finally wakes up, he seems different. His step sister Bibi is soon convinced that he is not who he appears to be. Meanwhile, in the ocean beyond Bermuda’s reefs, a group of bottlenose dolphins are astonished to discover a stranger in their midst – a boy lost and desperate to return home. Bermuda is a place of mysteries. Some believe its seas are enchanted, and the sun-drenched islands conceal a darker past, haunted with tales of lost ships. Now Bibi and Michael are finding themselves in the most extraordinary tale of all.
Praise 'I loved it... An absolute winner.' - LA Weatherly, author of the Angel Burn trilogy 'A writer who knows how to grip the imagination, make you sit on the edge of your chair, and make you laugh out loud.' - Michelle Lovric, author of The Undrowned Child, The Mourning Emporium and The Book of Human Skin 'If you only ever buy one Kindle book in your life (although that sounds a bit unlikely, now that I stop and think) this has to be it.' - The Bookwitch blog.