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One summer night in June 2021, just as I had gone to bed around eleven o’clock, my phone pealed out its Harry Potter tune and I knew it was one of my daughters – nobody else would ring at that time! This phone call coincided with three or four very loud bangs that had just happened, and daughter number one’s frantic voice reached my ears. She lives with her family about ten seconds away from us. She could have actually shouted from her bedroom window. 

‘Mom, you have to get out. Look out of your back bedroom window, the chalet is on fire!’

And indeed it was. The chalet was a building constructed by our neighbour two doors away, and was a two storey affair built like a Swiss chalet. The flames were huge, and we knew he had gas canisters inside it. Our immediate neighbours, with their three young children, were also outside on their path, with half the neighbourhood gossiping in little groups. The fire engines arrived and couldn’t find the fire hydrants, and when they did they struggled to get the hoses down a very narrow path and ultimately to the bottom of the back garden.

There were various groups of residents gathering to watch, I suspect because the firemen were worth watching once they’d stopped running around like headless chickens searching for water, and it didn’t take long for alcohol to be introduced to the general merriment.

By three o’clock we were back in bed, and my brain went into overdrive. One Hot Summer was ignited that night, and six months later the idea had grown into a fully fledged book, complete with a few murders.

All the people in the book are fictitious, the actions are fictitious, but the locations are real. There is a Moss Way police station, there is a Barnes Way and a Barnes Close (although with a different name), and there is an Asda next door to Moss Way Police Station. 

And there definitely is a Sheffield.

The fire that inspired me…

Start reading One Hot Summer by Anita Waller now!

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