Today I’m pleased to welcome Stephanie Butland, author of Letters to my Husband to the blog to discuss the inspiration behind the book.
I came up with the plot of Letters to my Husband by going the long way round, to say the least…. I started with the idea of writing a comic novel about a committee. The committee had been formed to persuade the council to put up a fence at a local beauty spot where someone had drowned. An early reader suggested I lose the ‘civic theme’; it was a brilliant insight, because I was discovering that writing about a committee is at least as hard work as being on one, if not more!
As soon as I’d got my head around the idea of writing a more pared-down story, Elizabeth’s letters – which are the only element of that first version which have remained virtually unchanged – stood out, asking that the novel be one about grief and coming to terms with it.
So I set off again, writing about Elizabeth’s journey through grief and betrayal, to a kind of peace. But even then, I was well through the writing – maybe two-thirds – before the plot really fell into place. I’ve tried to learn from that experience and put more thought into plotting, earlier on – it’s less painful that way! But I do think books should stand up and walk off in their own direction at some point. ‘No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader’, as Robert Frost wrote.
About the book:
“‘An immensely powerful, and ultimately uplifting, debut novel’ Katie Fforde
‘Heartbreaking, insightful, gripping and beautifully crafted’ Jane Wenham Jones
Dear Mike, I can’t believe that it’s true. You wouldn’t do this to me. You promised.
Elizabeth knows that her husband is kind and good and that he loves her unconditionally. She knows she hasn’t been herself lately but that, even so, they are happy.
But Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when Mike dies in a tragic drowning accident. Suddenly everything Elizabeth knows about her husband is thrown into doubt. Why would he sacrifice his own life, knowing he’d never see his wife again? And what exactly was he doing at the lake that night?
Elizabeth knows that writing to Mike won’t bring him back, but she needs to talk to him now more than ever . . .
How much can you ever know about the people you love?
Originally published in hardback as Surrounded by Water “