The House Fire: Out now!
Today is publication day for my second novel, The House Fire! It comes out today in paperback, ebook and audiobook.
To celebrate publication day, I’m going to give you some behind-the-scenes “exclusive” on the sparks that lit the flames of The House Fire.
1. A derelict mansion in the woods…
I’ve always been fascinated by derelict buildings, particularly those with abandoned belongings inside. What caused those people to leave their stuff behind? What was going on in their lives? Did they lock the door, knowing that they’d never come back? I have so many questions, and so few answers…
The Old Manor in the woods in The House Fire is inspired by a real house in the woods, which you can learn more about by tuning into episode 199 of This American Life: The House on Loon Lake.
"It's the true story of an abandoned house, discovered by a young boy in the 1970s, and the mystery of why it was abandoned."
2. The toxic new husband…
Cleo’s hatred of her new stepfather was inspired by two brilliant sources:
Wondery’s amazing true-crime podcast, Dirty John, which tells the story of psychopath and conman John Meehan and the impact he had on one family.
Anne Fine’s children’s novel, Goggle-Eyes, which is a wonderful insight into the mind of a little girl who really, really hates her mum’s new boyfriend.
3. A series of unsolved arson attacks…
The House Fire’s arsonist was inspired by a real-life fire-setter, Thomas Sweatt, who featured in a 2008 Washington City Paper article by journalist Dave Jamieson: Letters from an Arsonist. It’s a fascinating insight into the mind of someone who has spent decades justifying their horrific crimes:
“Letters From an Arsonist,” is an investigative account and narrative about serial arsonist, Thomas Sweatt. From his prison cell, he confided to Jamieson in long handwritten letters details of his crimes and the motives behind them. Sweatt set more than 350 fires over 25 years in Washington D.C., taking at least two lives and costing the city millions of dollars before he was arrested and sentenced to two life terms in the federal penitentiary.”