A Dip into Lorraine Kelly’s New Novel & a Wee Gossip

National treasure and TV host Lorraine Kelly was the guest author at a Henley Literary Festival pop-up event to promote her first novel, The Island Swimmer on Wednesday night at the Christ Church Centre.

The story based in Orkney follows the main character Evie arriving on the spring tide to the wild landscape she left as a teenager, the one to which she swore she’d never return, in an emotional story of family, community and facing the past.  Lorraine explained that she first went to Orkney as a GMTV reporter and loved it and goes back every year.  Lorraine thinks everyone can relate to Evie’s character of overcoming fear and anxiety relating this with her own story when she was asked to go to London from Scotland to cover a holiday and ended up staying. She quipped, “I only brought 5 pairs of pants!”

Interviewed by co-author and F1 TV Presenter Steve Jones asking why she had decided to write her first novel now.  Lorraine replied, “I wanted to do it for ages, I thought as it was a big year; I’m 65, my daughter is going to be 30 and I’ve been on TV for 45 years,  I thought if I don’t do it now I’m not going to do it. I turned into a hermit, did my TV job and then wrote. My daughter and husband took up some of slack by doing some of the boring jobs to allow me to do it.”

Lorraine explained that she needs complete silence to write and wrote the book in the kitchen on her iPad.  She commented, “As I’m a rooky writer I wrote too many words with too many characters,” some of which didn’t make the final cut.  Lorraine confirmed that the book is fairly PG but does have some foul language in.  She told the audience she didn’t put any sex in the book as she couldn’t write that sort of stuff and joked that she didn’t want to end up like Alan Titchmarsh who won the award for the worst sex scene in a book.  She explained that Angus her dog helped by being non-judgemental on walks when she needed help as she’d “gone down a cul-de-sac”.  Her Mum however who loves to give advice on everything including what she should have asked her TV guests Lorraine said “My mother always tells me what she really thinks. Thank the Lord she liked it.”  Asked whether she has a ‘wee dram’ when she writes.  Lorraine recounted to the audience a lesson she had learnt after going out with John Hannah to celebrate him getting the part in Four Weddings and ended up in a drag club at 3am and went to work the next day with a hangover.

The book which came out last Thursday is already number 2 in the Sunday Times bestseller, Lorraine exclaimed “I can’t believe it.”  Steve and Lorraine then went to talk about if the book was made into a film, who should play the characters include George Clooney and Benedict Cumberbatch.  Although Lorraine thought it should be unknown people so the characters from the book would shine through.  Talking of celebrities, Lorraine revealed that Lady Gaga Gaga never turned up for her interview and Robert Downey Junior kept her waiting because the hotel room where she was due to interview him was too hot!

Lorraine herself enjoys open water swimming; she took her first cold water swim in Antarctica.  She said, “I remember getting out of the water I couldn’t feel any part of my body so I couldn’t put my clothes back on!”  She has swum in the Thames but she would advise against it as she said “It can be quite brown!”

Lorraine’s favourite author is Maeve Binchy and she has thank you note she sent to her after she appeared on her TV show framed and on her wall at home.

The audience got the chance to ask Lorraine questions.  One asked about going on The Masked Singer and whether she would do any other shows.  Lorraine said, “I loved doing The Masked Singer, it was absolutely bonkers.” She said she wouldn’t do Strictly as she’d had Anton du Beke on her show and in the break they had tried to have a dance with Anton remarking “it was like dancing with a wardrobe.”

Another asked about whether she had any royal encounters.  Lorraine exclaimed, “I once sat next to Prince Charles at a charity event and ended up just babbling.  I can tell you though that he finishes his meal at the end with a glass of rose champagne.”


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