Today I’m excited to bring you a guest post from Rebecca Muddiman herself on the inspiration behind her new novel No Place Like Home!
Title: No Place Like Home by Rebecca Muddiman
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Date Published: 6th August 2018
What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house?
This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home.The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her.
What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly?
The Inspiration for No Place Like Home by Rebecca Muddiman:
The inspiration for a book can come from many places. For me, especially with my crime novels, it often comes from real life – e.g. domestic abuse or child abduction. I keep several folders of cuttings from newspapers and magazines, things that caught my eye or my imagination; as well as dozens of notebooks with ideas ranging from a single word, to a what if? sentence, to a longer sketch of the idea. These are both really useful in coming up with and developing ideas, though if anyone who was unaware of my job came across them, they’d probably think I was a lunatic.
When I’m starting a new book, sometimes I know exactly what I’m going to write about without having to consult the notebooks. Some ideas come forward, announcing themselves, and refuse to leave you alone until you’ve given them attention. Other ideas, you have to go looking for. After writing four books in a series, I knew I wanted to try a standalone. I just didn’t know what I wanted to write about at that point. So I headed for the notebooks and folders, flicking through, looking for the ideas that grabbed me the most. Some ideas can sit there for years without jumping out at me and then suddenly they seem like the most urgent thing in the world.
When coming up with what would eventually become No Place Like Home, there were three ideas I shortlisted. I wrote the three ideas down on one piece of paper, staring at it, trying to decide which one I would focus on. And as I stared, I realised they weren’t three ideas at all. Without realising it, I’d picked three ideas that were actually one idea.
The first came from an idle thought I’d had one day, soon after I’d moved in to my own house. Walking the dog on the field behind it, I looked back at my house. It was still new enough that I had to count the houses to work out which was mine. Once I’d found it, I looked at the bedroom window, and the first thing that came to mind was what would I do if I saw someone in the house? Someone who shouldn’t be there? Maybe everyone thinks like this, maybe it’s just crime writers. But either way, when I got home (where there was no intruder in the house) I wrote the thought down in a notebook and then forgot about it.
The second part of the idea came from something that happened to me about fifteen years earlier. My brother got a temporary job in another part of the country, but as it was temporary he didn’t want to give up his flat. So I volunteered to move in while he was away. The flat was on the second floor of a small block, located in a small square otherwise occupied by a pub, a fish and chip shop, and a handful of mostly closed down places. I was really excited by the idea of having my own place (even if it was temporary) but one day the buzzer went and when I answered it there was a man’s voice I didn’t recognise. I couldn’t make out what he was saying so I went to the bedroom window and peered down to the street below. I recognised the man. He was one of those semi-famous people in small towns, someone everyone knows, or at least knows of. He was obviously a man with troubles, the kind that kids cruelly shout at on their way home from school, running off as soon as their victim responds. I knew he was harmless, but it was still a little unnerving that he was standing outside, staring up at my window, wanting to be in. I found out later he was the previous occupant of the flat and had been evicted for trashing the place. Clearly he wasn’t pleased about that and he kept on coming back, pressing the buzzer, standing outside looking in, sometimes for an hour at a time. This was before mobile phones and my brother had no landline. The only way I could call for help would be to use the phone box across the square, but the only way to get to the phone box would be to pass the man at the front door. It never came to that. After a few visits he gave up. But the memory of it never left me, and one day it went into the notebook.
The last part came from a newspaper article about cuckooing. It focused on drug dealers and users who would target people who lived alone, vulnerable people, and take over their homes, using them as a place to conduct business without risking the police catching them.
These three ideas were linked by the theme of home and the invasion of what should be our safe haven. It was exciting putting the three ideas together and I knew I was onto something. But finding the idea was the easy part, making it into a book was much harder. Figuring out how these three pieces fitted together (or not) was where the hard work began. But, much like building a house, you have to start with strong foundations, and with these three ideas, I did.
About The Author:
Rebecca Muddiman was born and raised in the North East and worked in the NHS for many years. She has published four crime novels – Stolen, Gone, Tell Me Lies, and Murder in Slow Motion. Stolen won a Northern Writers Award in 2010 and the Northern Crime Competition in 2012. She is also a screenwriter and was selected for the London Screenwriters Festival Talent Campus in 2016.
Most of her spare time is spent re-watching Game of Thrones, trying to learn Danish, and dealing with two unruly dogs. Sometimes all at the same time.