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Interview: Marc Laidlaw on “A Swim and a Crawl”

Marc LaidlawWhat was the inspiration for “A Swim and a Crawl,” or what prompted you to write it?

For the last few years I have spent increasing amounts of time on the north shore of Kauai, and finally moved here. One of my good friends is well-known for swimming the miles and miles of the Na Pali coast, and I had wanted to join her for at least a few miles of the swim, but I had a lot of trepidation about it. I had no idea what to expect, and it took me quite a while to build up the courage to make the attempt. This story was written well before I made that first attempt, when I was able to just indulge the fantasy of being afraid and of trying to imagine what the journey might be like.

One thing that is good to write when you are working through fears is…a horror story. I love swimming, and I love the sea, but I believe just about anyone can give themselves chills if they imagine being aswim in the ocean…and to tap into even more fear, to be afloat in the ocean at night. (To swim at night in a prehistoric sea, full of hungry leviathans, is where my thoughts naturally tend…but I didn’t attempt that story this time. It is one of my oldest fear-fantasies though.)


What inspired the imagery you used in the story’s conclusion, and could you elaborate on ending at all?

I’d rather not elaborate on the ending. I will just say that this is a story for anyone who has committed completely to something, and then changed their mind when it was too late. The final image came to me as I was writing, so the story itself, and the main character’s particular predicament, inspired it. But it’s not too different from certain images in, for instance, the Tibetan Book of the Dead.


Anything else you’d like to add?

In a much lighter vein, the Frankenstein book I mentioned the last time I did one of these has now been self-published for Kindle. (Perhaps I’ll get it together to put out a print version eventually, but for now it’s Kindle only.) You can find it here:

And fans of the Gorlen Vizenfirthe stories, eight out of nine of which have appeared in F&SF, may be interested to know that I am at work on a novel that picks up some time after what I thought was the final story, “Stillborne.” It’s going well, but I do not have an ETA or a prospective publisher or anything else to dangle.


“A Swim and a Crawl” appears in the March/April 2018 issue of F&SF.

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Clicking on Mr. Laidlaw’s photo will take you to his website.


One Response to “Interview: Marc Laidlaw on “A Swim and a Crawl””

  1. A Swim and A Crawl and A Interview - Marc Laidlaw on March 14th, 2018

    […] I answered a few questions about my latest short story, “A Swim and a Crawl,” over at The F&SF Blog. […]

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