It’s a calm night on the water as the kayaks set off from the small pier at Lough Hyne. Most of our party are novices, some – like me and my husband and kids – absolute beginners. As we move away from shore, I gradually relax into the rhythm of paddling and listen to the guide’s stories of the history of the lake and the surrounding West Cork countryside.
He’s a born storyteller and we’re soon under his spell. Darkness falls, the moon rises, and my sense of anticipation grows. I’m here to see the bio-luminesence, the glow-in-the dark effect created by microalgae in the water called phytoplankton. It’s easily the most enjoyable part of my research for.
I reach over the side of the kayak and trail a hand in the water, setting in motion a flurry of sparkles. Think shoal upon shoal of microscopic underwater fireflies. Aquatic stardust. With the moonlight above us and the sea glittering below, our trip on the lake, already an immensely beautiful experience, acquires an other-worldly quality. The underwater light-show plays out against a soundtrack of sloshing paddles, punctuated by occasional exclamations of delight. One of the things I like best about the cover design forare the touches of silver that remind me of that glorious bioluminescence.
Nessa, the main character in the novel, visits Lough Hyne because an old friend from her college days has a holiday cabin there. Nessa’s marriage is coming back together after her husband’s affair. In her professional life, she’s enjoying the challenge of a new project, a retrospective art exhibition on the work of the sculptor Robert Locke.
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