It's amazing what home means to us. Dorothy told us there's no place like it. Home is familiar, comforting. In our position as foster parents, Matt and I are confronted with the reality of what "home" means in an unusual way.
Home is where you're comfortable. In some ways, since my parents moved out of my childhood home for a lovely townhome that's free of the scars a house earns when it shelters young children (in our case, crayon stars covering an entire wall in the basement) -- I don't have that "going back home" nostalgic feeling anywhere like you see in movies when the city girl goes back to the farm.
My childhood home actually came back on the market a few years ago, so my sister and I took a tour. My parent's bedroom was full of exercise equipment, and on my mother's formerly pink living room wall hung an enormous Andy Warhol-style painting of a dog smoking a cigar. The strangest thing was the traffic light in the corner.
I wasn't home on that real estate tour, even though that pineapple wallpaper was still in the hallway. Even though I could still open the doors without the hinges squeaking. Even though I could still make it up and down the stairs seamlessly without even touching the landing.
Home when you're writing fiction is that familiar place. You're comfortable there, the boundaries are far away. Maybe the character is based on someone you know, or on a part of you. Maybe the dialogue is a conversation you've had, or better yet, one you wished you could have had!
As safe as home may be, it isn't always exciting. The adventures are probably elsewhere. Writing The Senator's Youngest Daughter was an adventure for me, and actually most of it did take place at home. Writing the familiar parts might have been easy, but it wasn't the best.
Writing the "home" parts where siblings are talking, where parents are joking easily, where communication happens in a loving marriage... those flowed naturally. But writing the adventure parts, the scary parts, the dangerous parts? That's a rush.
If I'm home, I'm happy. But if this home doesn't exist in whatever setting, or if it's being threatened in XYZ fiction world, I can imagine other ways of being happy. Defeating the aliens, questing successfully, collaring the bad guys, maybe even stealing the crown jewels.
I love my life. I'm hugely blessed by my life. But if there were another version of my life (for example, the fictional life of the protagonist in an awesome novel), I'm pretty sure I could rock it.