Spotlight: The Art of Not Breathing, Plus Giveaway

Today we're putting a spotlight on Sarah Alexander's soon-to-be released novel, The Art of Not Breathing. Read on for more about Sarah, her novel, an excerpt from the book, plus a giveaway!



Meet Sarah Alexander!

Sarah Alexander completed an MA in creative writing at Birkbeck College with distinction. She currently works in publishing in London.



Meet The Art of Not Breathing!

Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. One minute Eddie was there, and the next he was gone. Seventeen-year-old Tay McKenzie is a cute and mysterious boy that Elsie meets in her favorite boathouse hangout. When Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea.


Novel Excerpt:

We swim out a bit farther. I’m starting to get cold, but I don’t want to leave.

“What’s the deepest you’ve gone?”

Tay tilts his head back into the water. “I don’t know. Why is everyone so obsessed with how deep?”

“Isn’t that what it’s about?”

He lifts his head and flicks water in my face on purpose.

“No. Not at all. Come on—let’s dive.” He grabs my shoulder.

“How deep is it here?”

Tay sighs. “About twelve meters, but we’re not going to the bottom.”

From here I can see the lighthouse on the Point. I can just about make out small dots on the beach. Dolphin watchers.

“What about out there?” I ask, pointing toward the bit of water just away from the lighthouse, where Dillon used to swim, where the dolphins show off.

I feel Tay’s fingers tighten around my shoulder.

“Deeper,” he says. “There’s a drop­off. It goes to about forty­three meters.”

I shiver. “Ever been?”

“Nah, nothing to see down there. Right—enough talking. Let’s go under.”

The drop­off. The very bottom of the bay. That’s where Eddie would have gone. That’s where I need to go.

“Elsie, come on.”

I tear my eyes away from the Point and focus my attention on Tay. It’s not that hard. I could look at him all day.

I take two deep breaths, like Tay does, then dive down. I kick and kick, but I seem to move only horizontally. I give up. I have to wait on the surface for Tay. I watch his shadow dart about and count three minutes, and I don’t even know how long he was down before I started counting. When he surfaces, he looks like he’s been on some kind of magical experience. His eyes are glazed and shiny. He puts his arms around me and kisses me on the mouth. He tastes of salt.

“Come on, El,” he says into my neck. “Let’s go to the boathouse and warm up.”

I love how he just called me El—I feel so much older.

On the way back to Fortrose, I try to ask Tay for diving tips, but he ignores my questions and tells me about all the different rocks that can be found on the Black Isle.

“Did you see all the layers of different­colored rock?” he says, pointing to the shoreline. “There’s sandstone, black shale, limestone. Sandstone is what the Pictish people used to carve their sculptures. If you look carefully on the beach, you can sometimes find bits of their artwork. You can find fossils, too.”

“Why are there so many layers?” I ask, feigning interest.

Tay kicks a pebble. “The passing of time, I guess. Earthquakes causing the land to shift. Do you ever think about all the people who’ve walked along this beach before you?”

“Not really,” I say. “Isn’t that a bit morbid?”

“No. It’s history. It’s amazing what you can find on the beach if you look hard enough.”

“And under the water?”

“Yes, but most of the interesting stuff ends up on the beach.”

He bends down to pick up a small flat black rock. “See? It’s a fossil.”

“Why don’t you like talking about diving?” I ask him. “Especially when you’re so good at it.”

Immediately I feel annoyed at myself for giving him a compliment, but at the same time I want to know.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Tay says. “I don’t need to talk about it. It’s just something I do, like breathing.”

I grin. “You mean it’s like not breathing.”
He smiles slowly at me, like he’s just realizing something. “You’re right. And I’m glad I get to not breathe with you.” 



The Art of Not Breathing

By: Sarah Alexander

Release Date: April 26, 2016 



Five winners will receive a copy of this new book (US only).


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