To celebrate the release of her new book, We Live Next Door, we asked author Laura Wolfe to write an exclusive piece for Female First, letting us know seven interesting facts all about the novel! Here's what she had to reveal...
1. We Live Next Door was inspired by real-life posts on my local Nextdoor social media app. The story centers around the suspicious death of a cantankerous woman after she posted one too many complaints on The Neighbor List (my fictional version of the Nextdoor app.)
I found ideas for my characters’ posts by scouring my newsfeed on my local Nextodoor app. While doing this, I realised that a disproportionate number of people post about lost and found cats, an idea which I included in my book. I also incorporated the second most popular topic of debate - whether reconfiguring our town’s streets to include bike lanes is a good use of taxpayer dollars. (For the record, I’m all for more bike lanes!)
2. I originally titled my book The Neighbor List, but my publisher explained we shouldn’t call it that due to the different spellings of ‘Neighbor’ and ‘Neighbour’ in the US and UK. That spelling difference was something I never considered! I love the new title, We Live Next Door, so I’m happy it worked out this way.
3. I set my book in my home state of Michigan in a fictional Detroit suburb. Although I named the suburb Glenn Hills, the setting is loosely based on an actual suburb just north of Detroit called Royal Oak. Royal Oak is filled with older, character-filled homes on smaller lots and is close to a Main Street featuring shops and restaurants.
4. I researched tons of tattoo designs while writing this book. In the rare moments when the main character, Jessica, is not trying to figure out the truth behind her neighbor’s suspicious death, she dreams of opening a cake shop featuring cakes with tattoo-inspired designs. I do not have any tattoos myself, so I wasn’t overly familiar with the endless variety of styles and options! I’m not sure how I came up with the concept for Jessica’s tattoo design-inspired cakes. I’ve never seen that type of bakery before, but I think it’s a good idea.
5. I took my dog on several after-dark walks around my neighborhood while writing this book as part of my research. Jessica sees the most suspicious happenings on her street while walking her dog late at night. I wanted to experience all the neighborhood sights and sounds when most people are at home, watching TV, reading, or getting ready for bed. Unlike my novel, the most exciting thing I ever saw was a rabbit running across our path.
6. I turned up the creepiness factor with each revision of We Live Next Door. As with all of my novels, I performed multiple rounds of revisions. This time, though, I wanted to make sure the strange happenings in the neighborhood were a constant threat to my main character.
For example, Jessica receives ominous messages through The Neighbor List app, discovers unsettling secrets about her neighbors, notices items in her house that weren’t quite as she left them—a piece of mail on the floor or a picture frame tipped over. I wanted to incorporate a sense of unease into my story and constantly leave Jessica wondering, Is someone watching me? Has someone else been in my house? Of course, by the time she figures out the answer, it is (almost) too late!
7. Peeling back the layers of one’s past is a recurring theme of We Live Next Door. Jessica moves back into her childhood home as an adult, enabling her to rediscover her past and view her parents through an altered lens. Old houses have always intrigued me because they live multiple lives with many families. If the walls could talk, what history would they reveal? What secrets would they tell? And what if those secrets hit a little too close to one’s own relatives?
We Live Next Door by Laura Wolfe is out now.
MORE FROM BOOKS: Seven things I'd like my readers to know about me, by J M Briscoe
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