There were two sources of inspiration that floated around in my head for a long time before I got around to writing Somewhere Only We Know. The first was the nightmare I wrote about here that gave me the initial conflict of the novel. The second was the song “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane. I first heard the song in the trailer for the Winnie the Pooh movie that came out in 2011. I wasn’t even a fan of Winnie the Pooh, but I watched that trailer so many times because the song entranced me. It was so wonderful to think about going back to a beloved place where you could connect with someone, like audiences could with the Winnie the Pooh stories.
When I had my nightmare, I immediately knew that Somewhere Only We Know was the perfect title. I realized the girls needed a place where they could connect with one another, which became the clearing with the linden tree. I included a tree because of the line in the song about a fallen tree.
The song talks about going back to a familiar place. In my book, Frankie and the girls used to go to this tree all the time to play, but they haven’t in a while—not since their abuse began. The place feels different to them when they finally go back, like in the song when the speaker questions if that is the place they used to love. But it is still a special place that only they know. The song also asks when “you” are going to let the speaker in. In the book, Frankie has trouble getting the other girls to open up about what they are going through.
I also chose this song to obtain my title because “somewhere only we know” can also refer to the place of violence that only victims of abuse truly understand. Abuse is something you can only really understand if you are a victim yourself or if you’ve talked openly with those who have experienced it. Frankie has trouble talking to people who have not experienced what she has because she doesn’t think they understand. Because of her difficulty, the clearing becomes the only place where she can share what happens to her and try to find healing.
I love the song “Somewhere Only We Know” so much, and I wanted to use a verse of it as the epigraph for my book, but I couldn’t because of rights. I chose instead a quote from Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, a book that inspired me while writing Somewhere Only We Know.
Even though I couldn’t use the song as my epigraph, I’m glad I was still able to share its title with my book. I hope that people will think about this beautiful song as they read my book.