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How Did I Get Here? Close to Home by Cara Hunter

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Cara Hunter © 18 January 2018.
Posted in the Magazine ( · Crime · Interviews ).

Close to Home was born on a beach. In the Caribbean, in November 2014, to be precise. I’ve always been a huge reader of crime fiction and never more so than on holiday, where I get through at least a dozen in the space of a week. But I can be quite demanding when it comes to endings. I hate it when I guess the culprit too soon, or when an otherwise excellent book ends with a whimper rather than a bang. And that’s how it all started. With me, tossing a book onto the sand and muttering that the ending of whichever novel it was didn’t match up to the rest of it and my husband looking at me over his sunglasses and saying (not unreasonably) “well, if that’s how you feel why don’t you write one of your own?”

By the end of that holiday I had an idea, a title, and a three-page synopsis. Fast-forward  just over a year and I’m sitting in the reception area at Penguin on The Strand, waiting to meet Katy Loftus, and still pinching myself that any of it was really happening. I’ll never forget that day – we’d barely made it to Katy’s office when people started knocking on her door saying “I just had to come and tell you how much I loved it”. Apparently one member of the team had actually missed her stop on the Tube because she was so engrossed, and people could be heard at the coffee machines comparing notes about how far they’d got in the plot (“Ooh, just wait till you get to that bit….”). By the time I got home they’d sent me a marketing plan to die for and a lovely selection of feedback from all over Penguin (I confess they had me at “it’s so like Broadchurch”). We were in an auction process by then, and I met some really marvellous people at other publishers, but as soon as I spoke to Katy I knew she was going to put her heart and soul into making this book a success, and no writer could ask for more than that.

And in the last year, that’s exactly what’s happened. I’ve seen Katy in action at the Theakston’s Crime Festival in Harrogate, and with some of the key retail buyers, and she’s in the dictionary under ‘champion’. And alongside that she’s supported me as I wrote the second in the Fawley series (In The Dark, out in July). The best sort of editor will have good literary judgment as well as real insight into what the market and the reader are looking for, and I’ve been incredibly lucky to have that rare combination in both Katy and Anna, my fabulous agent. And it was such a joy returning to the same characters again for In The Dark. Like real people, the more time you spend with them the more you get to know them. And like real people, too, they can sometimes surprise you. And now I’m deep into the second draft of the third book, which will be out late in 2018.

And to top off an amazing year, Close to Home was chosen as a Richard & Judy Book Club pick for Spring 2018. That was one of those glorious secrets you’re absolutely dying to tell people but have to sit on for weeks until the official announcement. I recorded a podcast just before the actual day with R&J themselves, and they were every bit as polished and professional as you would expect from such experienced broadcasters. But they were really warm and interested too, and I can absolutely attest that they both read every book on the shortlist, because they knew Close to Home inside out. In fact, having done two more since then I suspect they may actually have known it better than me by that point!

Looking back now, it feels a bit like that line from the Talking Heads song, Once in a Lifetime (and this definitely is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ moments): “And you may ask yourself, How did I get here?” So how did I get here? One answer to that question is hard work. Hard work and persistence. Publishing is always tough, and for every high there will be a low. You just have to keep going, and not allow yourself to be daunted, even though there will be times when that’s a lot easier said than done. Another answer is luck. Having the right idea at the right time, which is not something you can legislate for, but will always be a big factor in an industry so influenced by trends. And finally, the idea itself. I remember Sophie Hannah talking about her ‘neo-Poirot’ novels at the Harrogate history festival and reminding us all that the best crime fiction can often be summed up in four words. Murder on the Orient Express: “They all did it”; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: “The narrator did it”. I think one of the reasons people have responded the way they have to Close to Home is that you can sum that up in four words too. But you’ll have to read it to find out what they are…..

(c) Cara Hunter

About Close to Home:

The RICHARD AND JUDY BOOK CLUB pick everyone is raving about, this pulse-pounding thriller about the search for a missing child is perfect for fans of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR.

‘One of the best crime thrillers I have ever read’ Kathryn Croft

HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?

Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.

That means someone is lying…
And that Daisy’s time is running out.

Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for Spring 2018, CLOSE TO HOME is the new crime thriller series to get addicted to.

WHAT AUTHORS AND READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT CLOSE TO HOME:

‘THE LAST TWIST WAS A GENUINE STROKE OF GENIUS’ John Marrs

‘A MAZEY, GRIPPING READ’ Ian Rankin

‘A 5-STAR PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER’ D. Elliott Amazon Reviewer Vine Voice

COMPULSIVE, WITH AN ENDING YOU WILL NOT SEE COMING’ Emma Kavanagh

‘AN ABSOLUTELY UNPUTDOWNABLE READ’ Mrs C. Swarfield Amazon Reviewer Vine Voice

I FINISHED CLOSE TO HOME IN ONE SITTING!’ Nuala Ellwood, author of My Sister’s Bones

Order your copy online here.


I'm lucky enough to live in the city I write about. Oxford will be familiar to crime fans across the whole world because of the fabulous Morse novels and TV, but my version of the town is a long way from the beautiful ivy-clad colleges. A much edgier place where the crimes are darker and closer to home. I've always been a voracious reader and viewer of crime - I've learned so much from the outstanding writing that we now see on crime TV like Line of Duty or Broadchurch, and I've tried to recreate the experience of watching series like that for my readers. I love true crime TV as well - my husband used to tease me about it but now just nods sagely and says 'research'! What else about me? I have pet cats who do their best to distract me whenever I get close to a keyboard (if you have cats, you'll know), I love travelling, spending time with friends, and I have never knowingly turned down a glass of champagne....