The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

INTERVIEW with Stephanie Elmas, Author of "THE ROOM BEYOND"

The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas
Publisher:  Banstead House Publishing
Release Date:  September 29, 2013

The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas
About the Book

When Serena begins a new life working for the Hartreve family at 36 Marguerite Avenue she falls in love, not just with its eccentric and alluring inhabitants and their world, but with the house itself. Number 36 is a beautiful Victorian London mansion that has remained in the family for generations. Serena feels that by being here she has escaped the ghosts of her own sad childhood and found a true home, but she soon discovers that behind its gleaming surfaces Marguerite Avenue is plagued by secrets and mystery. Why does such a beautiful tranquil street seem sometimes to shimmer with menace? Is everyone in the family quite who they appear to be? And just what is it that the family is trying to hide from her?
It is 1892. On a hot summer night scented with jasmine, Miranda Whitestone hosts a dinner party at 34 Marguerite Avenue. Watching helplessly as her husband is seduced by her glamorous neighbour Lucinda Eden, she can have no idea of the consequences the evening will have.

For the history of Marguerite Avenue is more chilling than Serena could have imagined, and the fates of two women - the beautiful renegade Lucinda and the 'good wife' Miranda - will reach out from the past to cast a shadow over Serena's own future.

The Room Beyond is a thriller that delves beneath the romance and grandeur of a London house and finds a family haunted by the legacy of past wrongdoings. As the suspense grows and the fog thickens, will Serena be able to give up all that she has come to love? Will she ever escape?

I'm so happy to welcome Stephanie Elmas to And the Story Unfolds ---an author making her debut with The Room Beyond.

Please share with us a brief synopsis of the book---

The Room Beyond is a dual time suspense novel set in the present day and the Victorian era. The central theme of the story is a beautiful London house on a road called Marguerite Avenue, home to the Hartreve family who have lived there for generations.

In the 1890s the house is bought by Lord Hartreve for his beautiful but rebellious daughter Lucinda. Her neighbours are Miranda and Tristan Whitestone, a couple trapped in a loveless marriage . When Lucinda and Tristan set eyes on each other there are immediate fireworks, but the relationship that ensues between leaves a dark legacy that will plague the family for more than a century to come.

In the present day a young woman, Serena, moves into the Hartreve house as a nanny. From the outset she is entranced by the beautiful building and its eccentric aristocratic inhabitants. But, as Serena begins to find out, things in Marguerite Avenue aren’t quite what they seem. The past lurks around every corner, and there are secrets in every shadow

What inspired you to write this book?

I have always loved writing but never took it very seriously until I started The Room Beyond. I studied English at university and did a Masters Degree in Victorian literature. It was there that I fell in love with sensation fiction, which was hugely popular during that era. Wilkie Collins is perhaps the most famous author to have appeared from this genre but there was another amazing writer who was incredibly famous then called Mary Elizabeth Braddon. She was massively well-known for her mysterious, eye-popping works that sent middle-class housewives flying to the bookshops. So, I took on Braddon's mantle, wrote my own gothic Victorian sensation drama and brought it up to date with the present day entwined within.

Who was your favorite character in this book and why?

Probably Miranda, Tristan’s poor rejected wife. She’s the character that most of my readers seem to like best too. She is a complete underdog at the start: lonely, a product of an unhappy childhood, plain faced and unloved. But as the story develops Miranda finds strength inside herself that she never knew she had. She turns out to be a fighter with a noble heart and for me the heroine of the novel.

Who was your least favorite character in this book and why?

Well I suppose it has to be Tristan! I don’t want to give the story away but he has a very dark past and an even darker soul.

Name your three favorite books?

Oh, now that’s a very tough question! I think it probably has to be:
  • The Railway Children, Edith Nesbit
  • The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy
  • Birds Without Wings, Louis de Bernieres

These are all extremely personal to me but I have so many other favourites. If you ask me the same question tomorrow I might say something completely different!

Do you already have the characters set in your mind before you begin the storyline or do they sometimes happen as you begin to write?

My characters definitely grew with the book. I set out to write a story about a big eccentric family but it took a long time to get everyone where I wanted them to be. The character Walter Balanchine, an extraordinary mystic from Victorian London’s East End, is perhaps my favourite from an inventor’s point of view. When my agent first read the book she actually googled him to see if he was a real historical figure. I had great fun fine-tuning him and needless to say he is the subject of my next novel!

Do you allow your storyline to just evolve or do you have an outline?

The Room Beyond definitely evolved. When I started writing it I had no idea it would turn into a full length novel. It took me seven years to write as I constantly had to find ways of squeezing it into my hectic family life. I have promised myself never to do this again! Although I am very proud of what I’ve written I need to be more organized in the future for the sake of my own sanity.

What is the most important thing in your life right now?

My family. Whatever happens in life it will always be my family.

Do you have any long-term goals as a writer?

I just want to keep writing books that people love reading. Nothing makes me happier than when someone enjoys my writing. If eventually I can sell enough books to support myself financially, well that would be the icing on the cake!

Stephanie Elmas Author Stephanie Elmas

Stephanie Elmas was born in Hong Kong to an English father and Czech mother but spent most of her childhood in Bristol. She studied English at university in London. She has worked as a head hunter, taught English in Japan and returned to university to complete a Masters in Victorian fiction. It was here that she developed her interest in the dark dangerous world of Victorian sensation writing. Stephanie now lives in a chaotic house in Surrey with her husband and three highly energetic but wonderful children.