Almost Home is the culmination of a vision I've had for more than a decade. The idea arose when I was still living in Europe in the mid-nineties. I was traveling through Spain with two friends, one Polish and one American. One night as we were lying awake in our hotel room talking, I began mapping out a story of a young woman whose boyfriend had died mysteriously years earlier when they were students at Cambridge. Many former Cambridge students, myself included, seemed to have complex relationships with the alma mater where they had enjoyed such deeply passionate experiences, and the death I envisioned was on some level a metaphor for those relationships. I didn’t know then that the young woman’s name was Jordan, or that she would turn out to be a diplomat, like myself at the time.
A few years later, when I returned to the States and started seriously writing novels, I was working on two ideas: one for Almost Home, which was modern, and one for The Kommandant’s Girl, which was historical. I took samples of both to my writing class and my peers liked both, but were slightly more enthusiastic about The Kommandant’s Girl, so I pursued that project and ultimately published it and the sequel, The Diplomat’s Wife. Meanwhile, the idea for Almost Home was never far from my thoughts, and I was so glad to have the chance to finally return to it and learn the many secrets and surprises the story would ultimately reveal.
There are some people who will look at the parallels between Jordan’s life and my own (Cambridge and State Department) and wonder, “How much of the story is real?” To those readers, I say first and foremost – it’s all fiction, the characters, the story, everything. But I believe that while real life makes terrible plot, it makes for wonderful setting. And I do think of the book as a tribute to two groups of people: first, the many Foreign Service Officers and other government workers I’ve been privileged to know, whose heroism, skill and sacrifice continue to awe me long after our professional affiliation ended. Ultimately, the book is a homage to the friends with whom I experienced that brief illumination of Camelot known as Cambridge, a time and place that left its mark on all of us and created a common bond that lives on. Beyond all else, Almost Home is a tribute to that real-life fairytale, and a love song to those who lived it.
I think that readers of my first two, more historical books will greatly enjoy Almost Home because it has so many of the same elements: a strong female protagonist, romance, international intrigue and adventure plus a compelling historical back story. Despite the differing time period, it really is a very similar type of book.