When my family decided to move to Bosnia, we came to Sarajevo because that’s where my husband’s family relocated after the war, but they still owned land in a small village outside of Srebrenica. At first, we would drive out there and spend the day. We’d hike around in the overgrown wilderness with the kids, but eventually we decided to build a small cabin on the site where the original house stood. Why am I babbling on about this, you ask? Because my cabin in the woods played a huge part in Backdoor Politics, that’s why.
The small village where my husband used to live was abandoned after the war. There are only piles of bricks where the houses used to stand, and now cows and sheep roam the hillside where people once tended gardens and had backyard parties. The forest has taken over most of the area. The paths that were once well worn through the woods between the houses are no longer discernible. So far, we’re the only ones who’ve built anything though, a few people do tend their land because they have fruit and nut trees. We’re all alone out there, and it’s as creepy as it is peaceful at times.
The cabin is on the small side, because I decided I didn’t want to spend the entire time we were there cleaning instead of enjoying the outdoors with my family. The main floor has a bathroom, kitchen/living room, and one very small bedroom, while the upstairs is one large room where our kids sleep and hang out most of the time. The deck is almost as big as the main level of the house, because we spend most of our time out there. We don’t have electricity so we use a generator, and our water comes from a natural spring halfway up the mountain behind our house. It’s isolated enough that we barely get cell service.
The cabin had just been recently finished when I began writing Backdoor Politics, so when I was trying to decide where Julien would have chosen to keep Zijad after he kidnapped him, I had a light bulb moment. What would be more perfect than a cabin in the woods? If it was a horror movie, it would be the perfect setting. There would be no one around to hear his screams.
Sitting in my little cabin, I looked around and imagined where the chains would go, on the wall and in the ceiling. I could see it so clearly as I pictured the scenes in my head. Now I have a hard time unseeing what my brain put in my innocent weekend house, but I have to admit it helped me visualize the space Kamal was forced to occupy with his captive. If it hadn’t been for my cabin, who knows where Kamal and Zijad would have ended up.