Christina here. Authors are by nature inquisitive – some people might even say nosey – but that is a very necessary trait. We observe the people around us to get inspiration for characters, we listen in on conversations in cafés and on trains and buses to help create good dialogue, and we try to absorb all the details of the world around us and store them in our memories. Because you never know when it will come in useful, or what will spark the beginning of a story. It could be any or all of the above that suddenly results in that lightbulb moment when a novel is born. All authors have their own favourite triggers, but for me it’s very often a house, which means that I am extremely curious about other people’s homes. Not just because the way they are decorated shows the owner’s individual taste, but the buildings themselves – the style, the layout, the interior décor, the era it was built. It all feeds my imagination.
I’ve mentioned before that I go to stately homes and ruins to find inspiration, but not every character is going to live in a place like that. Therefore, I’m always on the lookout for suitable properties, and although I can, of course, check out houses in the local community, it’s good to have a greater choice. And obviously, you can’t just go and knock on someone’s door and ask to have a look around as that would seem rather suspicious (and rude!). But there is a better way – real estate agents’ websites and brochures. I have occasionally pretended to be an interested buyer, just to obtain the particulars of some magnificent house or other, and these are extremely useful!