Every writer's nightmare is that after this book, the one they are writing, they will run out of stories. After I had finished Another Piece of My Heart, I realised I was stuck; I had nothing. A long lunch with my editor resulted in her asking me what I was thinking about, and I confessed my recent fascination with a family I had come across. The husband, a handsome man with a twinkle in his eye, travelled most of the time, leaving the wife alone with her two teenage girls and a palpable air of loneliness.
'He is just the sort of man', I said, 'to lead a double life.'
This was coupled with a story I had recently heard, of another local man, the life and soul of every party, who was also a frequent traveller for work. One day, while he was away, his wife received a phone call from their insurance agent. Their car had been in a crash. Except it wasn't their car, they didn't have that particular type of car. Oh yes you do, said the insurance agent. It's registered to your address in California.
What address in California, said she, before discovering that not only did her husband have another wife and two other children she knew nothing about, they had the same name as her own children here.
I have long been fascinated by our presumption that everyone we meet operates under the same moral code as us, that they are basically good people, that they do not lie and are exactly as they appear to be. Sadly the older I get, the more I learn this is not the case, although when it happens to you, when you realise someone you know has lied, it is always a shock, however old and jaded you may be.
I loved writing this book. In many ways it was the hardest book I've ever written, but it is also the book I have worked hardest on. It went through six huge edits before we got it right, but I think we really did get it right, and I'm so looking forward to hearing what you all think when it's out in March.
You'll be happy to hear I've also completed the next book, but let's just say that's a story for another day...