In 2002, my wife and I bought a crumbling, old (but very beautiful) farmhouse in southwest France, near Cognac. The first time we were shown around the place by the estate agent, we found a dead owl in the attic. Owls lived in a number of the outbuildings and you could hear them at night when they went out hunting. We’d done a lot of driving around in search of the perfect property, and on some of the roads were these “fantômes,” black, person-sized cut-outs that stood at the edge of the tarmac, signifying a death by road traffic accident. Pretty sobering. Some of them had jagged red fractures in their heads. The story came out of those two elements.