Fanny Blake shares how she came to write House of Dreams.
I was heading to London on the M11 listening to Radio 4 when I got the first inking of an idea for House of Dreams. An author was describing why he wrote a biography of his late mother. Hearing him made me think how little we know about our parents’ early lives and how, even if we ask them questions, we can’t ever fully know what made them the people they were. Without that knowledge, how can we know what we’ve inherited ourselves? It struck me that this would make a strong basis for a novel.
After my father’s death, I went with my mother on a walking holiday in southern Spain that took us across the countryside between the small mountain village of Gaucín and the town of Ronda. Apart from drawing the two of us closer together, the holiday reminded me how passionately I loved the region. I had visited several times before. I thought it might one day make a great setting for one of my novels.
I returned with a friend eighteen months ago. We stayed in Gaucín and spent the days exploring and meeting ex-pats who had lived there for years and knew the place inside out. Then one day, we came across a restored farmhouse with the traditional tiled roof, walls covered with bougainvillea, fronted by olive trees and surrounded by circling swifts. This was my House of Dreams.
But I needed more than a concept and a setting. I enjoy writing about women of a certain age and the issues that face them as well as the dynamics of family and friendships and the relationships between different generations. So I dreamed up my family and their story.
Two sisters, Jo and Lucy, and their brother Tom return with their families to the house where they grew up in southern Spain to scatter their late mother’s ashes and throw a last birthday party in her memory. But on arrival, they’re besieged by reminders of their early life there as well as questions about their mother’s and their own pasts that have been so long unanswered. Over the course of the weekend, secrets are laid bare as the three siblings are forced to confront their own life choices and discover what drove their mother to make hers.
What makes something stick in one’s mind is very mysterious, and sometimes one isn’t aware of exactly where inspiration comes from. But in the case of House of Dreams, I can definitely trace it back to that rainy afternoon on the M11.
Only a weekend in Spain – what could possibly go wrong?
At their family hilltop villa, Lucy awaits the arrival of her brother and sister for their mother’s annual birthday party. Although this time, their mother won’t be there.
Struggling at Malaga airport with her fractious four year old, Jo has already lost her case and is dreading arriving without its precious contents.
For Tom, returning to Casa de Sueños stirs up all sorts of memories – then a beautiful face from his past appears …
Over one long, hot weekend, past secrets will spill out as three siblings discover more about their family and each other
Fanny Blake was a publisher for many years, editing both fiction and non-fiction before becoming a freelance journalist and writer. She has written various non-fiction titles, acted as ghost writer for a number of celebrities, and is also Books Editor of Woman & Home magazine. She has written four novels, including Women of a Dangerous Age and With a Friend Like You.