Q&A with Louise Candlish - 'Our House' Blog Tour
by Louise Candlish
On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue.Nothing strange about that.
Except it is your house.
And you didn’t sell it.
When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she's sure there's been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird's nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.
Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona's children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram's not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.
Today I am absolutely thrilled to be on the Blog Tour for this dark and thrilling novel. I am a big fan of Louise Candlish's books and it is a real privilege to interview her here on my blog, so without further ado, read on to hear more about Louise and Our House!
Could you sum up the story of Our House in three words?
The premise for the book is incredibly engaging – Fi comes home and finds someone else moving into her house! What inspired the original idea for this story?
Thank you! I agree, property fraud is really fascinating and utterly terrifying. The idea began with a news feature I read in the Daily Mail about a woman whose house was almost stolen by a criminal gang. The article – or one like it – is actually mentioned in Our House. Bram dismisses it as tabloid sensationalism, but he should have paid more attention.
Which key themes did you want to explore in this book and why?
So many! I wanted to tackle the impact of the inflated property market, especially in the Southeast, and the way it has altered our relationship with our homes. I also wanted to explore cybercrime. I was interested in bird’s nest custody, a new and trendy parenting arrangement for separated couples. On an emotional level, I was interested in the way we can unravel mentally, so quickly, any one of us. And trust. Who can you trust to help you when you’ve made a catastrophic mistake? Can you even trust yourself?
You have used several different forms of writing within the novel to help tell the story. What made you include things like the word document and the podcast recordings to help tell the story?
I always knew I wanted the story to be told in a form of testimony, but not as part of a formal police investigation. I also wanted the chosen medium to have a relevance to the plot and not be experimental just for the hell of it. Fi is a very private person airing her dirty laundry on a podcast that anyone can download – there has to be a reason for her to choose to do this. Meanwhile, Bram is writing a confession, but he doesn’t say who it is he intends to read it, if anyone at all.
This novel has lots of twists and turns, and as we’ve just said, you use different ways to reveal the different sides of the story. Can you tell me a little bit about your planning for this novel? Was it very complicated?
It was the most complicated thing I’ve ever done and I found it incredibly hard. I had ‘live’ lists of scenes and multiple drafts and files full of discarded material and many timelines. Timelines for each character, even timelines for objects. Right at the end, one of my editors said, ‘Can you do me a timeline for the car keys? I just need to get that straight.’ And that brought new discrepancies to light. It took a whole set of fine-toothed combs to get all the details right.
Are you a fan of social media and podcasts? Any recommendations for good podcasts?!
Yes, I loved Serial and I’m also a fan of You Must Remember This, the podcast about Hollywood by Karina Longworth. I love the spoken word generally. If I can’t sleep, I listen to something on Radio 4 Extra, an old DH Lawrence dramatisation, say, or a discussion programme. Twitter is how I communicate with readers and other writers and it was natural to use tweets in the book. I wanted the live tweeting to give voice to some of the thoughts readers might be having about Fi’s story (‘Wtf! Is this woman serious?’)
Could you tell me a little bit about your writing life? Do you have any writing rituals or preferences for when and how you write?
I don't have rituals, just a supply of very strong coffee and a bit of self-discipline. I’m usually on the sofa with my laptop and the cat, but I can work in most places – provided there aren’t people having an interesting conversation nearby, in which case I down tools and listen shamelessly.
All the reviews for ‘Our House’ rave about the twists and the gripping storyline. Which was the last book that kept you up well past your bedtime?
Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh. It is twisty and suspenseful, but also very rich emotionally. It made me feel quite sad.
What’s next? Are you working on anything else at the moment?
I’m just finishing the first draft of my next novel, also in the ‘property porn thriller’ genre, as Our House has been said to belong to! A noisy neighbour moves into Lowland Way and the previously happy neighbours soon find themselves the subject of a murder investigation.
Well I definitely can't wait to read that - it sounds very intriguing!
Thank you so much Louise, this has been a fascinating interview and a really insightful one, I've loved hearing your answers!
Don't forget to follow Louise on Twitter
And don't miss the rest of the blog tour - or check over the posts you've missed, it's been amazing so far!!
My thanks to Louise and Jess at Simon and Schuster for inviting me to participate in the tour and for the advance copy of Our House.