Published in 2003, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has won more than 17 literary awards, including the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, sold more than 10 million copies and grossed £14 million in 2004 alone.
Haddon admits that he began the novel wanting to find a 'gripping and vivid' image that would stick in the reader's head. It was only once he had thought of the image of the dog with a fork sticking out of it that the voice of the narrator came to him. Haddon explains that 'only after a few pages did I really start to ask, Who does the voice belong to? So Christopher came along, in fact, after the book had already got underway.' He describes how he cracked the puzzle of the novel by explaining that 'if Christopher were real he would find it very hard, if not impossible, to write a book. The one thing he cannot do is put himself in someone else's shoes, and the one thing you have to do if you write a book is put yourself in someone else's shoes. The reader's shoes...The answer I came up with is having him be a fan of Sherlock Holmes stories. That way, he doesn't have to put himself in the mind of a reader. He just has to say, I enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories and I'll try to do something similar to that.'
Haddon believes the book he had most in mind when he was writing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. In a note about the novel, Haddon explains that Jane Austen was writing about boring people with limited lives and that were she alive today, she would be writing about chartered accountants in Welwyn Garden city. In Pride and Prejudice she writes about their lives with such empathy that they seem interesting, in the kind of book that her characters would read - the romantic novel. In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time that is what Haddon says he was trying to do: 'to take a life that seemed horribly constrained, to write about it in the kind of book that the hero would read - a murder mystery - and hopefully show that if you viewed this life with sufficient imagination it would seem infinite.'
Haddon explains that writing about disability thows light on things that might otherwise seem ordinary: 'It isn't entirely comfortable' he explains, but it show us 'how little separates us from those we turn away from in the street. It's about how badly we communicate with one another.'