The Sea Devil by Natalia Bieniek
About the Book:
The owner of the lighthouse was found dead on a concrete terrace of the lighthouse. The cause of death was probably an unfortunate accident. A careless woman, after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, was dancing on the upper terrace of the tower (88.5 m high) during a night storm. There was no one nearby who could prevent her from falling. The husband of the deceased was then on board of the ship “Sea Devil” some 200 nautical miles away. Their son was out at the student camp and the teenage daughter was returning from a nearby town on a bicycle. Was it really an accident? Similar tragedy happens in the same location years later. Is there a curse on this lighthouse? Read The Sea Devil to find out.
About the Author:
Natalia Agata Bieniek graduated from the University of Lodz with the Degree in English Philology.
After graduation she moved to Warsaw. She worked as a translator and English teacher.
She is the author of the novel “UśpioneMarzenia” published in Polish in 2014, and the story “The Sea Devil”, which was first published in the magazine “Esensja” in 2002.
Her favourite writers include Edgar Allan Poe, James Patterson, Tess Gerritsen and Gillian Flynn.
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Can you tell us more about your book “The Sea Devil”, what is it about?
It is a thriller or a mystery story that takes place in the lighthouse and it ends in the death of one of the characters. Its main themes include revenge, punishment and evil. All these things lie deep within each of us, although we may not realise it, and they can lead people to crime when the circumstances are favourable. What makes people evil? This question interests me most in everything I write.
Further interpretation belongs to the reader. I wouldn’t like to limit his or her understanding of the story.
Who do you think would be interested in this book, is it directed at any particular market?
The story was published for the first time many years ago in a Polish magazine, and throughout the years I have received many signs of interest from the readers, both men and women. I think ‘The Sea Devil’ is directed to all lovers of thrillers and action books, and all those who like suspense and mysteries. Rather younger readers, regardless of sex. The scenes are not very brutal in a physical sense.
“The Sea Devil” tells the mysterious tale of a woman who falls to her death from the upper terrace of the lighthouse where she lives. Her family is away, so no one would think anything other than a horrid accident. What was your inspiration for this story?
I wrote it in 2002 during holidays at the Polish seaside. I remember I rented a room close to the lighthouse. The building looked totally different from the imaginary one in the story – it was in the middle of the town, surrounded by shops and traffic. As opposed to this, the lighthouse in the story is located on a cliff in a secluded place, with no people around and far away from the town. But the very idea was there.
I remember it was raining heavily, so I stayed in my room and was bored. Those were the days with no mobile internet around and I had no laptop, which is now hardly believable, but this is how it was almost fifteen years ago. So, I bought a copybook and a ball pen and just started writing, without any particular plan. Next week the weather got better, the sun came out, so I went with my copybook to the beach to finish the story. I still have these old pieces of paper, although they’ve become slightly yellowish with time. It makes me feel nostalgic when I think it’s almost fifteen years back. I should celebrate the 15th anniversary of my dear Sea Devil soon, cherish these old pieces of paper. They are part of my life. I guess no one writes like this anymore. In the copybook on the beach.
This is not the only tragedy to happen, years later something similar takes place, leaving the reader intrigued as to what actually is happening at the lighthouse. What tools have you used throughout “The Sea Devil” to entrap the reader, make them believe one story and then turn this around to make them doubt?
I’m afraid I cannot answer this question precisely because if I did, I could take away fun from my future readers. So, you have to read yourself to find out!
I generally like mysteries and the sense of the unknown. That is why my narrator often plays cat and mouse with the reader. My characters unveil the truth about themselves gradually into the story. There is always a riddle to solve.
Alongside “The Sea Devil” do you have any other books, or plans to write more?
Yes, I published a novel ‘Uśpione Marzenia’ in the Polish language version in 2014, so there is no English title, but it could be literally translated as ‘Hidden Dreams’. It is about two women who struggle to live their lives according to their own needs and dreams, but what they constantly do instead is fulfil the needs of other people. There’s a tough lesson to learn: You can follow your own path, but it costs so much that you can almost go mad.
In the future, I plan to write a thriller about a couple who go on a summer time trip and experience a nightmare when their relationship gradually changes from supposed love to open hatred. The nightmare gets even worse when they realize that the real danger comes from the outside. Someone wishes them death. They have their own sins from the past that shall never be forgotten. And they will have to fight against their common enemy.
I would also like to write humorous crime fiction books. One of them I have almost finished. It is about an extremely rich woman who resigns from luxury to save the life of a small girl. There is humour, action and suspense, as well as a criminal investigation in the centre of Warsaw. Bad guys, beautiful girls and big money. It’s a tongue-in-cheek version of a modern Superwoman.
Tell us more about you? You are originally from Poland, what was it like there, do you miss anything?
In the past I spent some time in England. I have warm memories of Newcastle, Sunderland, York and Durham. I also travelled to Scotland a few times and flew to Ireland. I worked in a shop, studied literature and lived in a flat with wonderful young people. That was a great time of my life and I will never forget it.
For the last ten years I’ve been living with my family in the capital of Poland, Warsaw.
If you were not able to write, is there any other creative medium that you would use, and why?
Maybe I would go for architecture, although I cannot draw and wasn’t too good at maths. But I pay attention to buildings around me. I admire them and try to learn as much as I can about their history. I like browsing through albums on architecture, especially about my hometown Łódź, where I was born.
I think buildings have their own unique stories and can be a wonderful source of inspiration. I am now working on a novel in which an old building plays a vital part. There is a corpse and a treasure; an old lady and a young girl; plus quite a few other intriguing tenants who have their secrets and their sins. First, they get involved in some funny situations, but then the action becomes also tragic. I hope I manage to finish it, because I am curious myself which character will finally survive and which one I will decide to sacrifice for the sake of my story. Will I be cruel at the end or maybe I will save somebody? It’s great that as the author I have powers to kill or to save somebody’s life. This is what I love in writing.
Out of all the books in the world, and all the authors to choose from, which book and author would you suggest to be your favourite and why?
I could elaborate on this topic for ages because I love reading books probably even more than writing them. I often have a dilemma how to spend my free time, whether to choose writing or reading and the latter usually wins. So, I have a long list of my favourite authors and it changes with time. Right now I am fascinated by the French writer Pierre Lemaitre, who creates absolutely astounding thrillers, with great suspense and breathtaking cliffhangers. This is the kind of writing I particularly adore. I discovered his books last year and I am still under huge impression of his brilliant talent.
What guidance would you offer to someone new to the writing work, or who was trying to enhance their craft?
I think everybody should choose his or her own way and there is no single, universal recipe you should follow. I learn a lot while reading books of other writers. That’s the best way for me and I suppose it will do good for anybody who wants to write.
You could also show your writing to people interested in literature and ask for feedback. Reactions of readers are precious. I seldom do it myself although I realize it would probably be beneficial. But I need to complete the whole piece before I show it to anybody.
Another way to enhance creativity is reading stories for children. Fairytales are an endless source of inspiration. I spend quite a lot of time inventing bed time stories for my older daughter and I’ve noticed that each day I become more and more creative.
What I can also say is that you shouldn’t resign too early. You need to be very patient. For me, writing is the art of patience.
Where can our readers find out more about you, do you have a website, or a way to be contacted?
I have a website. You can find it here:
You can also contact my American publisher, Royal Hawaiian Press.
I have my facebook fan page, but it is mainly in Polish.