The idea for Every Vow You Break came after I had afternoon tea with a friend who, in the years since he and my husband met as spear carriers at the Bristol Old Vic, has become something of a Hollywood star. He is still as charming as ever, but it was the reactions of people around us that shocked me – the rubbernecking, the outright staring, the nudging. And this was in the Tate Modern Members’ Bar, where you’d think people would have a little more decorum.
It set me wondering what the Faustian pact of fame might do to a person. The loss of all sense of a private life, where complete strangers claim you as theirs. People saying yes to your every whim. I was also very interested in those ‘what-if’ past relationships. What would have happened if one had stayed on that train? not had that final argument, not had one’s head turned from the steady boy by the pretty boy?
But the most potent inspiration for the novel was the setting. Every other year for ten years, my husband worked six weeks with a small summer stock company in rural upstate New York. And each time we rented our house out and the three children and I joined him. I was intrigued by the area – a mixture of rural farming people and artists who had moved up from the city, tempted by the trade in of a box in Brooklyn for a large colonial house with plenty of room for studios and parties. There’s wealth too: Yoko Ono has a house there, and a couple of banker types have cutting edge places with helipads. Rumours of survivalist cults up in the endless, densely-wooded hills only add to the mix. The heat is heavy and oppressive, occasionally punctured by the kind of storms you just don’t see in Europe. You are warned of bears, skunk, snakes and rabid racoons. It is, quite literally, a melting pot, and a perfect setting for my creepy tale of obsessive love.
But I’d hate readers to think that the Waylands – the English family who set off to spend six weeks in upstate New York while Marcus, the actor father, works with the local theatre company – have anything to do with the real Crouch family. Or that Stephen Molloy is at all like my anonymous Hollywood star friend. That, quite definitively, is where the fiction starts.
Every Vow You Break is published by Headline