The Haunting of Maddy Clare – Behind the Scenes

Here are a few behind the scenes tidbits from the creation of THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE. No spoilers, I promise!

Did you base the characters on anyone in particular?

Lots of authors have visual ideas – usually actors or actresses – in mind when they create characters, but in this case I didn’t. Halfway through writing the book I found the photo below (I don’t know what actress this is – if you know, drop me a line!) (Edited to add: Thank you, reader Dee Ann, who identified this photo as actress Evelyn Brent!) and I thought it matched my view of Sarah Piper pretty perfectly, but I started with just an image in my head.



As for Matthew and Alistair, I imagined them clearly, and I hope my readers did the same.

Were there really wire recorders in the 1920s to record sound?

Wire recording technology certainly existed, slowly replacing the technology of recording to wax cylinders (anyone who has ever read Dracula, with its obsessive mentions of characters dictating their experiences, cannot help but be familiar with wax cylinder recordings.) In the 1920s, wire recorders were large, ungainly, and were tentatively being used for office dictation. Alistair’s portable version is a few years before its time; however, as he was an eccentric with unlimited funds, I gave him free rein to have his own device custom manufactured.

Have you ever been to England?

I have, but it was years ago. I’d love to go again. In the meantime, this is the creepy barn near my house that served as setting inspiration for the barn scenes:


You couldn’t pay me to go in here.

Why did you choose to write in the post-World War I era?

Oh, the 1920s! I could go on and on. It’s my favorite historical era for so many reasons. First, the First World War (1914-1918) was a cataclysmic tragedy that no one of the time could fathom, and the loss of life was beyond anyone’s imagining. To be blunt, society was rather short of men, and the ones who had come home were often damaged and scarred.

This left women in need of supporting themselves, which means they had jobs, and often their own flats, or flats shared with other women. Many of these women had been war volunteers themselves and had witnessed things women of previous generations had never seen. They were away from their parents, with their own money, and the men who had gone to war instead of marrying were single as well. The times were a bit wild, but the fun had an air of sadness and desperation to it.

Or, at least, that’s what I think.

In any case, it makes for great character interactions between the young men and women of the times. These were the first “modern” young people, and I brought my fascination with this idea into all three of THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE’S main characters in various ways.

That’s very deep. Why do you really write about the 1920′s?

The clothes, of course.




How long did it take you to write the book?

It took about a year from beginning to end, and the writing was a lot of fun.

Will there be a sequel?

I have a few ideas for one, but that remains to be seen!