NIGHT SWIMMING publication day!

Monday, April 3, 2017

I'm incredibly thrilled that my third YA novel, NIGHT SWIMMING, is published in Australia and New Zealand today! It's a novel I'm really proud of, and that I really enjoyed writing - and I hope you enjoy it, too.

If you're in Brisbane on April 4 (tomorrow!) or in Melbourne on April 20, I'd love to see you at one of my launches! Details at the links.

Want to read it?
You can find it at ReadingsDymocksAngus & RobertsonQBDBooktopia, and wherever else books are sold! (You can also order it through my publisher, Text Publishing, who offer free shipping in Australia.)

The ebook is available on AmazoniTunesBooktopiaeBooks.comGooglePlay, and Kobo.

And if you post photos of NIGHT SWIMMING, I would love to see and share them! Feel free to tag me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. (I'm also on Tumblr. And Snapchat, as stephmbowe. But I'm sort of confused by Snapchat. If you want to explain to me how to Snapchat, that would be helpful.)

You can add NIGHT SWIMMING to your shelves on Goodreads, too.

Here's the blurb:
Steph Bowe is back. Night Swimming is a love story with a twist, and a whole lot of heart.

Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…

And here are some of the nice things people have said about it so far:
‘A funny, diverse, authentic story of family, love, musicals, crop-circles and goats.’ - Lili Wilkinson

‘Night Swimming is at once sweet and serious; a love-letter to outsiders, the kooky and complex—it’s an ode to first times and best friends…but above all else, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have a writer like Steph Bowe in our midst.’ - Danielle Binks, Alpha Reader

‘Steph Bowe’s latest novel is the utterly charming story of two best friends, the small town they live in and the girl they both fall for. It is a tender and humorous tale of family ties, friendship and first love.’ - Erin Gough

‘This bittersweet comedy of romantic misunderstanding, life management and family relations is poised at the emotional intersection between forgiveness and self-acceptance. Despite its whimsical tone, Night Swimming tackles serious themes of mental health, family upheaval and sexual coming-out with commendable delicacy and humanity.’ - Readings

‘Night Swimming is a sweet story of coming of age, family and first requited love. There is a genuine-feeling desire in the story to see the good intentions in lightly sketched but complex characters, which gives the book a lot of heart. It will appeal to fans of realistic Australian YA and to readers searching for sweet and hopeful queer love stories.’ - Books + Publishing

Melbourne Book Launch for NIGHT SWIMMING!

Monday, March 27, 2017


Hey, Melbournites!

I'll be having a Melbourne launch for my new novel, NIGHT SWIMMING, on Thursday April 20 at 6.30pm!

It's on at Readings Kids (315 Lygon St, Carlton) and I'll be in conversation with the amazingly talented Lili Wilkinson!

It's free, and there's no need to book - everyone is welcome and it would be wonderful to see you there!

Details are on the Readings website.

Brisbane Book Launch for NIGHT SWIMMING!!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Brisbane and Gold Coast friends!

I am having a book launch for NIGHT SWIMMING (my first ever book launch!) in Brisbane on Tuesday April 4.

It's at Where The Wild Things Are (191 Boundary St, West End - the kids' bookshop next door to Avid Reader) and it's on from 6pm to 8pm.

I'm thrilled to have the amazing Paula Weston, author of the Rephaim series, helping launch it - there will be a Q&A! There will be wine! There will be speeches!

It would mean the world to me if you came along. Just register with the bookshop at the link below! I hope to see you there!

Register at the Where the Wild Things Are website. Everyone is welcome! Please come along!

The cover of NIGHT SWIMMING!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am super excited (and nervous!) that NIGHT SWIMMING is only six weeks away from being published! Here is the immensely gorgeous cover. I can't wait to see it in the real world!

Here are some of the really lovely things some writers I admire have said about it:

‘A funny, diverse, authentic story of family, love, musicals, crop-circles and goats.’ - Lili Wilkinson

‘Night Swimming is at once sweet and serious; a love-letter to outsiders, the kooky and complex—it’s an ode to first times and best friends…but above all else, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have a writer like Steph Bowe in our midst.’ - Danielle Binks, Alpha Reader

‘Steph Bowe’s latest novel is the utterly charming story of two best friends, the small town they live in and the girl they both fall for. It is a tender and humorous tale of family ties, friendship and first love.’ - Erin Gough

All the info about NIGHT SWIMMING can be found on my publisher's website, where you can also preorder!

Hexenhaus by Nikki McWatters

Friday, December 2, 2016

A powerful novel about three young women caught in the hysteria of their own times.

In 1628, Veronica and her brother flee for their lives into the German woods after their father is burned at the stake.

At the dawn of the eighteenth century, Scottish maid Katherine is lured into political dissent after her parents are butchered for their beliefs.

In present-day Australia, Paisley navigates her way through the burning torches of small-town gossip after her mother’s new-age shop comes under scrutiny.

While I'm not a big reader of historical fiction, Hexenhaus intrigued me. Hysteria! Witchcraft! Three interconnected stories! It's dark and compelling, and once I started reading, I had trouble putting it down. Knowing its basis in real events made this novel especially disturbing - Veronica, Katherine and some of their family members and other characters are based on real historical figures, and the horrifying 'hexenhaus' (a witch prison, where Veronica's parents are killed in the novel) is based on a place in Bamberg where witch trials were conducted and about a thousand people died. It's awful.

The strongest parts of Hexenhaus are Veronica's and Katherine's stories; the historical fiction seems well-researched, reads easily, and has a strong sense of time and place. While Paisley was a likeable protagonist and her town felt well-drawn, I never quite bought her story; the townspeople's horror about witchcraft isn't something I could imagine in present-day Australia. If their loathing of Paisley's mother was instead motivated by some other social difference (cultural or socioeconomic, perhaps) or financial goal (like some other businessperson wanting the prime real estate of the new-age shop), then it would have been easier to understand. I still enjoyed Paisley's story, but it didn't gel quite as well as the other two. Veronica was my favourite character, and I found her story the most compelling, though Katherine's voice was engaging.

I love the narrative through-line that connects Veronica's, Katherine's and Paisley's stories, and felt that the three worked well together. I think this novel will appeal most to readers of historical fiction. And it is straight-up historical fiction - those put to trial as witches are mostly politically inconvenient, or killed for the economic gain of the witch finder, as it was in reality. No witchcraft here. It merges the historical well with the contemporary, though I would've been more intrigued to read Paisley's story had it been set at a different point in Australian history - perhaps during the early 20th century, when a fear of witches in a rural town might be more realistic. Paisley's story adds a certain lightness - while Veronica's and Katherine's stories are full of death and suffering and tragedy and injustice, ultimately there is hope, through Paisley (it'll make sense when you read the novel). This is a bit of a spoiler alert, but if you're worried Hexenhaus ends too tragically for you to want to read it, rest assured the ending is uplifting. For at least one character.

Hexenhaus is a dark but enjoyable novel which really shines in the historical sections. Well worth a read if you're particularly interested in witch trials, and a nuanced exploration of mass hysteria.

Hexenhaus on the publisher's website.

My new YA novel: NIGHT SWIMMING!

Friday, November 25, 2016

I am so excited to tell you that my new YA novel, NIGHT SWIMMING, is being published by Text Publishing on April 3 2017!

I loved writing this novel, and I love so many of the characters in this novel - the awkward and adorable Kirby, and her hilarious best friend, Clancy, and their glamorous love interest, Iris - and I am so excited for other people to read it and I hope they love them as much as I do. It's weird and it's funny and it's silly but hopefully it's also got a lot of heart.

Here's what it's about!

Steph Bowe is back. Night Swimming is a love story with a twist, and a whole lot of heart.

Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…

You can find out more about it on my publisher's website. You'll be hearing a whole lot more about it over the next few months in the lead up to publication!

Everything Is Changed by Nova Weetman

Monday, November 21, 2016


If only we could all go back to the way it was before…

Jake and Alex. Best mates. One terrible mistake. Two lives that will never be the same.

Told in reverse, this powerful and gritty novel moves through the wreckage of a broken friendship, back to the moment when everything changed.

I love a story told out of chronological order, and once I found out Everything Is Changed was told in reverse, I was really curious to see how that was executed. What's awesome about Everything Is Changed is that, even though it's told backwards, it somehow seems totally natural and effortless. Which surely it wasn't; this would be a complicated novel to write. Enough information is divulged to keep the reader engaged, but suspense is still maintained throughout.


Something I really love about Nova Weetman's work (particularly her previous YA novel, Frankie and Joely) is that while there are romantic storylines, they tend to be subplots; really, these are novels about the complexities of friendship. While Frankie and Joely ultimately ends with the central characters resolving their issues and strengthening their friendship, Everything Is Changed ends with Jake and Alex apart, their friendship well and truly over. That's not a spoiler because it happens at the start. While there is a slight moral message, it's really more about the friendship between the characters breaking down (and their respective personal crises as a result of what happens) than about either of the boys learning a lesson.

I think one weakness of back-the-front storytelling is that certain details are repeated in order to orient the reader in time; for example, if this story were told traditionally, we would not have to be told about characters who we have already met at an earlier (later) point. Am I confusing you? I'm confusing me, too. Basically, there's a little repetition so that we don't get confused. The protagonist and his dad play golf with Tony and his dad; at a later point (earlier in time) we're told the protagonist's dad admires Tony's dad. We already know that, from when they played golf, which hasn't happened yet. Make sense?

Apart from that minor gripe, the novel flows well. It's easy to follow, enjoyable and everything being told in reverse gives the events a sort of tragic inevitability while still being engaging. I wanted things to work out differently for the characters, even though they clearly couldn't. I don't like saying that particular novels are for girls or boys based on the gender of the characters - any reader of any gender should be able to enjoy reading about any character of any gender (if the only way a reader can relate to a character is through being the same gender, that's weak writing) - however for readers who want to read about boy characters, Everything Is Changed is terrific. It's about the friendship between two boys going horribly awry, after a terrible thing happens, and it's realistic enough for young readers to feel as if it could happen to them. It's dark, but it's not without hope. An enjoyable and immersive read.

Everything is Changed on the publisher's website.
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