I’m back for another installment of Behind the Scenes, this time talking about No Place Like Home is the second book in the Fred Vickery Mystery series. Fred’s son, Douglas, returns to Cutler for a visit, but Fred soon realizes that Douglas isn’t interested in catching up with him. He’s come home, chasing his ex-wife, Suzanne, hoping for a reconciliation. That’s the last thing Suzanne wants. In fact, she’s already moved on and is dating Douglas’s high-school nemesis, Garrett Locke. Fred knows trouble is brewing, and he’s so right. Before he knows it, Garrett is dead and Douglas is in jail for murder.
Now, here’s a behind the scenes glimpse at what went into writing the book
#1: After years of writing the beginnings of books and then giving up before i got to the end, No Place Like Home was the third book I wrote to the end. It was also the first book I wrote under contract which can do strange things to a writer. At this stage, a writer has had their first experience with the revision and editing process with a publisher, and gone through their first experience at having someone elses’ input into their book. I’d had input from critique partners, but I’d always known that I had the option of taking their suggestions or ignoring them. All at once, people who were paying me a great deal of money were offering suggestions, and I felt a lot more pressure to listen to them. The pressure to produce another book and make it good, combined with the pressure to use ideas and suggestions coming from a relative stranger, made the writing process extremely difficult. So difficult, in fact, that I froze for months, unable to write at all. I didn’t know it at the time, but second-book-itis is a pretty common thing for new writers.
#2: Even though I had a rough roadmap to follow (a plot) when I started writing the book, I had a very different idea about what happened between Garrett and Douglas than what appears in the book. In fact, it wasn’t until, frustrated by having been blocked by one scene for weeks, that I found out the truth. One of Fred’s favorite things to do is to take his morning constitutional around Spirit Lake every morning. During one such walk, he came across one of the secondary characters in the book, and it was his conversation with that character that opened his eyes and mine to what was really going on.
#3: The town of Cutler, Colorado is loosely (very loosely) based on the town of Grand Lake, Colorado. The Grand Lake area was a favorite vacation spot for my family after my parents moved to Colorado. Every year, my mom and dad took the grandkids camping, and I was able to join them two or three times. It’s a beautiful area so when I was looking for a place to set my first book, I eventually settled on Colorado and chose the land around Grand Lake as my setting.
#4: The character of Albán Toth, owner of the Copper Penny Lounge and the Four Seasons restaurant, is loosely based on my brother-in-law. Both were born in Hungary, they share similar physical attributes, and their accents are much the same. Even though I had no idea that Albán would be a recurring character when I created him, I chose not to name him after my brother-in-law to avoid the temptation to make him be my brother-in-law. knew I wanted him to have a Hungarian name, but one that readers wouldn’t find too difficult to pronounce in their heads, so after much thought and research, I decided to name him after my brother-in=law’s cousin, Albán, who still lives in Hungary, and whom I have never met.
#5: Just before I wrote No Place Like Home, I wrote a book for my other publisher that contained a little bit of humor. It was the first time I’d injected humor into a manuscript for them, but I was pleased with the book and I thought they would be too. Shortly after I delivered No Place Like Home to my editor at the other publisher, two editors from the first publisher called to discuss the manuscript in their hands. It was a bit daunting having two editors (my editor and the senior editor over the line, who was also the editor who bought my first book for them) on the phone at the same time, and when they told me they didn’t like the humor I’d injected into the book, and counseled me never to do that again, I was devastated. So devastated, in fact, that I vowed to quit writing…forever! Luckily, the editor who had No Place Like Home in her hands called me the next morning to discuss it. She loved the book, and laughed about some of the scenes between Fred and the character of Celeste, telling me several times that she loved my sense of humor. Heartened by my conversation with her, I decided not to quit writing forever, and got to work on the third book in my contract. I’ll never know what might have happened if that editor hadn’t called when she did. I might have actually quit writing…forever. Thankfully, she did call, and I didn’t quit, and this book has a special place in my heart as a result.
And there you have it — five things you might not have known about No Place Like Home before today.