You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce is a chilling modern fairy tale about fairies, magic, and murder…so how could it have been inspired by real life? Read on to get a look inside the inspiration for this stunning debut from the author herself!
By Camilla Bruce
My debut novel, You Let Me In, opens with a mystery. Reclusive author Cassandra Tipp has vanished from the face of the earth. Left behind in her mansion is one final manuscript that holds the key to her fortune. Her heirs, a niece and a nephew, must read it in order to get their prize. What they are hoping to find on the pages is a confession; Cassandra has stood trial for the murder of her husband, and have also been suspected in another crime. What they find instead is two stories, intertwined but very different. Both of them looks back at Cassandra’s life – and both of them end in violence – but only one of them tells the truth. Much like the heirs, the reader must decide what to believe: wasCassandra an unhinged murderer, or a victim of otherworldly seduction?
I have always loved novels that are, in themselves, puzzles or mysteries; the kind that does not provide any easy answers, but makes you ponder long after the last page has been read. When I started typing You Let Me In, I quickly realised that this was my chance to write a story like that: a riddle where the answer changed depending on the reader’s angle.
When asked where I got the first idea for the novel, I usually blame my cats. I had two of them at the time: big, fluffy brothers who kept bringing greenery into the house. Every day I picked up twigs and leaves, until one day, an eerie thought struck me; what if I did not have cats? What other possible reason could there be for those bits and pieces littering my floors? The answer I came up with was faeries (which I suppose says a lot about me).
I have always been interested in folklore, and fascinated by previous generations’ vague distinction between the faeries and the dead. I grew up in central Norway, in an old forest studded with Iron Age burial mounds, and spent a lot of time pondering what – or who– they might contain. One of my favourite things about faeries is their elusiveness; it is hard to get a firm grip on just what – or where– they are. They are and are not at the same time, which served the purpose of this novel perfectly. Another elusive thing that inspired me was the concept of truth itself, which can be a little like the faeries, too, shifting and unreliable.
I am also intrigued by the brain’s ability to protect a person from discomfort and trauma. Whenever I was under duress as a child, my brain would open an ‘escape hatch’ of sorts, and flood my mind with intense daydreams that made everything feel a little better. I have sometimes wondered what would have happened if those daydreams became vivid enough that I started having problems distinguishing them from reality, which is one of the possibilities I explore in the novel.
You Let Me In is not your typical crime book. It does have murder, and even a trial, but it does not fit any one genre: it flits between thriller, horror and fantasy without ever settling down. It is my hope that it provides a different reader experience – something a little unusual – that lingers in the mind for a while.