T.M. Logan is the author of the novel The Vacation. His other books include Lies and 29 Seconds. A former journalist, he lives in Nottinghamshire, UK.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Vacation, and for your cast of characters?
A: I had this idea about four friends who were very close; they’d known each other for 20 years and had a bond that they thought would last a lifetime.
I was fascinated by the idea of a secret that could break this bond, and why one of them might decide to betray the friendship: would it be for love? Money? Revenge? Or something else? That was the core of the idea, my starting point.
Every summer these four friends go away for a long weekend to reconnect and have fun together, somewhere different each year.
To mark their 40th birthdays they decide to build on the tradition by going away for a whole week, with partners and children in tow, to the south of France. That’s where the story of The Vacation unfolds.
In terms of inspiration, I suppose it’s not a complete coincidence that my wife, Sally, and three of her long-time friends have been going an annual summer trip together for years…
Q: You tell much of the story from Kate's point of view, but you add in the points of view of various other characters as well. How did you decide on the book's structure?
A: Kate was always going to be the main character, it was always going to be her story and her journey, but I also knew I wanted to have other strands of the story alongside hers.
The friendship between the four women is really important so I wanted to explore that through the eyes of the other women, and see how their life experiences make them react to situations in different ways.
The four main characters came to me right at the beginning and grew clearer as I planned the story out.
They needed to work on two levels – both as people who would have become friends at 18 because they had lots in common, but also as people who had stayed close even 20 years later, though their lives have taken them all in different directions.
They’re the same people they were at university, but at the same time they’ve all been changed by life and circumstance. That was key to the tension I wanted to explore.
The partners and the children add another layer to the narrative which I hope makes it a richer story too.
Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?
A: There were some changes, between the first and second drafts particularly.
But I always knew where I would start and how it would end, along with some of the key turning points along the way. I tend to plan about two-thirds of a story before I start writing.
Although there are some things that sound great when you’re planning but just don’t work when you’re actually in the thick of creating the story; equally, there are elements that only emerge during the writing and were never part of the plan – they just feel right in the context of the characters and the situation.
Q: The novel takes place in a villa in the South of France--how important is setting to you in your writing?
A: For this novel it was very important - the setting and location of The Vacation is really an integral part of the whole story.
This area of France is a bit of a hidden gem, rolling wine country on a beautiful stretch of the Mediterranean coast, rich with vineyards and little villages dating back to the middle ages.
So these people come together in a single place, not just four women hiding secrets from each other, but also the rest of the group – their families.
There are 12 people in total and you have husbands and children who don’t know each other very well at all, they don’t necessarily get on, they’re all out of their natural environment, and there is increasing friction as secrets and lies start bubbling to the surface.
I liked the idea of putting these people in one house, away from home, close to each other for a whole week.
I think on vacation, people tend to behave differently - they do and say things they wouldn’t do at home. If you add in heat, and alcohol and strong personalities, it can make for a combustible mix.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m currently working on my fifth book, which is provisionally entitled Trust Me, which will be coming out in the UK in summer 2021.
I’m promoting my fourth, The Catch, which came out in e-book at the end of April and arrived as a UK paperback on June 11.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I just wanted to say a big thank you for having me on the blog. I love the fact that there are readers, writers, reviewers, and book lovers willing to give time and space on their blogs and webpages to new books. The book world would be a much poorer place without you! Please keep on doing what you’re doing – thank you.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb