Interviewing Lucy Van Smit, Author of The Hurting

The Hurting

I am so pleased to welcome Lucy Van Smit, author of The Hurting, to Linda’s Book Bag today. We have been ‘virtual’ friends for a while so it’s good to get to know one another a bit better. In a change from my usual staying in posts, we are having a more extended chat so let’s get started!

Staying in with Lucy Van Smit

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Lucy.

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Hurrah! Such a delight to be invited – I am in awe how you spend 4-5 hours a day blogging; helping readers and authors to find each other, thank you, Linda.

It’s been my pleasure to feature so many authors here Lucy – though I have to confess I am ready to take a short break and will be cutting back in 2019. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me before I do though!

There’s nothing better than a chat about life and books with a glass of wine.  I love this book section of yours so much and it’s great to take a moment to reflect on life.

I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the posts. I’ve loved doing them.

What books did you bring with you?

The Hurting

I wanted to talk to you about my debut, so I brought The Hurting –  I’m very excited to have the German edition too. They’ve pitched it as Nordic Noir Wuthering Heights – an epic love story set in the Norwegian Fjords between Nell, a British girl and Lukas, a damaged boy, raised by wolves who persuades Nell to steal a baby.

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Sounds brilliant. And I see you’ve brought Michele Obama’s autobiography. Why is that?

Well, they might seem strange bedfellows, but ‘Becoming’ is a key theme for both our books. They are about the choices we make and how those choices shape us. My protagonist Nell realised she “binned her life like toilet paper and never noticed” and I was fascinated how Michelle Obama also came late to reflecting about her choices and had to stop ticking her ‘boxes’ of success. I was raised to value cleverness and success over feelings, and I wanted to write ‘big’ about emotions; the unbearable, overwhelming, obsession of first love and inner conflict.

I think those are themes we can all relate to Lucy. How does they manifest themselves in The Hurting?

Nell wants to be a songwriter but can’t find her voice to tell her father. Her sister has cancer and their unfaithful mother abandoned them, so Nell doesn’t believe in love; until she meets Lukas. She has to choose what matters more, being with the love of her life… or being herself and saving the baby she stole for him.

I think I’m going to have to add The Hurting to my towering TBR Lucy. This sounds my kind of read.

I see you brought in a photograph from your book launch in Trafalgar Square. 

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Yes, it was a big day, I was fifty before I listened to that small voice that told me I was a writer. I wasn’t interested in getting published and wanted to learn to write well. The Hurting was written on my MA course and won The Bath Children’s Novel Award. The legendary Barry Cunningham published it – he discovered J. K. Rowling and my 93-year-old mum and teenage son were mesmerised by him at my launch.

How exciting. And congratulations on that award. It looks like you got some great reviews too.

Thanks!  Here are a few of them. I have to keep pinching myself. All I wanted to do was write a book that blew people away and one they really loved.

“A writer to watch” The Irish Times

“Compelling, dark, enthralling – read it now! Don’t you just hate it when you fall in love and steal a baby? Seriously, Lucy Van Smit takes an ‘out there’ premise and draws the reader in, via layered plotting and nuanced characterisation. The Nordic backdrop is fabulous, and Nell is an enigmatic lead, complex and flawed and absolutely compelling. I can see this as a movie, for sure. Loved it and very, very much recommended.”  L.V. Hay, script consultant, author, script editor.

“Have I said how much I really love The Hurting? I have read it twice now – just a gorgeous, gorgeous piece of writing. My niece (who’s at Rugby) has completely flipped for it and made all her friends buy it – it’s totally intense and cool is her review.” Cat Muir, screenwriter, children’s novelist.

“And the WRITING.  Oh, my goodness your writing.  You don’t miss a space for punch and power.  No fluff.  Some absolutely beautiful ways of saying things that make you almost breathless with description, followed by another and another – all in the same paragraph.  Till you’re overcome with the intensity of your feelings and how you can put them across.” Pamela Townley, author, screenwriter.

These are fabulous Lucy. They make me want to read The Hurting even more. Adults clearly love the book, but I thought it was what we call YA or Young Adult?

Yes. It’s written for Year 8 upwards, but 80% of the YA readership is over 18. Many young people today experience toxic relationships, mistaking control and emotional coercion for love. I go into schools to talk to pupils and they love hearing stories how I messed up at their age, and it inspires them to listen to themselves more. I need to do more of that!

Oh I totally agree. I also love YA fiction and think that the intended audience is such a tough one that frequently YA fiction has to be some of the best there is.


I love these reader responses. You must be so proud of The Hurting. Thanks so much, Lucy, for staying in with me to tell me all about it.

Thanks for having me, Linda. And I hope you listen to your instincts to cut back a bit.

Ha. I’ll have put out almost 600 posts by the end of 2018 and I have agreed to only 9 in 2019. I think I’d call that cutting back!

The Hurting

The Hurting

Nell’s family arrives in Norway in financial disgrace. She is dominated by her family – her religious father and her sister, whose cancer stops Nell from embracing her dreams of a musical career. She doesn’t believe in love, either, until she falls for Lukas. But Lukas has his own dark agenda, and in this tale of hidden secrets and shocking twists, he manipulates Nell closer to the point of no return. How far is she willing to go for love?

The Hurting is published by Chicken House Press and is available for purchase through the links here.

About Lucy Van Smit


Lucy van Smit is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and a TV producer who travelled worldwide for NBC News, flew on Air Force One with President Reagan, got surrounded by tanks at Manila airport in a coup, before she chilled and made documentaries for Canadian Broadcasting on John Le Carré, Martin Amis and Ian MacEwan. The Hurting is being translated into Russian, German and Polish.

You can find out more by visiting Lucy’s website, following her on Twitter @Lucyvansmit and finding her on Facebook and Instagram.

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