In Candlish’s domestic thriller Our House (Berkley, Aug.), Fi Lawson returns to her family’s South London townhouse one day to discover that her estranged husband has stolen it out from under her.
What inspired this novel?
I read an article in the Daily Mail a few years ago about a woman who had almost been the victim of property fraud, in a not dissimilar scenario to the one that I use in the book. And it just struck me as the most fantastic crime for a novel. I wanted to write about a crime that I’d never read about in fiction before.
Could someone actually steal a house as easily as in the book?
I made the criminals jump through more hoops in the novel than you would have to in reality. Here in the U.K., you can buy a house without meeting your lawyer, you can do it all online, which sounds extraordinary but is true. So the book’s been described as a how-to guide to steal a house, but hopefully no one will use it for that purpose.
Why does the idea of home have such a high emotional resonance right now?
Partly because of the political climate and the uncertainty of the outside world, we’re all kind of looking inward, setting such emotional store in our domestic life. But the other reason is that our houses have gone up in value so much that they’ve almost taken on a dangerous kind of central role in a family. In so many situations now, I think a family home is making the decisions for families rather than the people.
Why did you decide to have Fi tell a large chunk of the story via a podcast?
I’m a big fan of the spoken word generally, because there’s that kind of intimacy and it’s about persuasion and trust in a way that’s very direct and different from the written word, which felt absolutely right for Fi. And then there are the tweets from listeners. I thought that Fi’s account might be frustrating to the reader, especially as she knows so much less than the reader does, so I wanted to give the reader a voice for some of the comments they might be making about Fi.
You’ve spoken of Agatha Christie’s influence on your work. Do you see any shadow of her here?
I suppose if there’s any Christie influence it’s reflected in my obsession with the plotting. She always put plot before anything else, and I think that’s what I’ve done in this book as well.