I’m delighted to welcome Stephanie Elmas to Jera’s Jamboree today.
Stephanie Elmas was born in Hong Kong to an English father and Czech mother but spent most of her childhood in Bristol, England UK. 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, England UK, with her husband and three highly energetic but wonderful children.
Please summarise The Room Beyond in 20 words or less.
A spine tingling suspense about a London mansion and its occupants, set in the present day and the Victorian era.
If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book which would you be? and why?
That’s quite a tough question to answer! Probably Serena, the present day heroine of my novel. She has a very tough start in life and experiences some heart breaking moments, but I think she’s also a very positive character who has everything to live for.
Do you have a most creative time of day?
The mornings are my best time for writing. I need to have a fresh brain! I’ve tried writing in the evening, which is a far more convenient time for me, but nothing flows.
Who designed your book cover?
I wanted a book cover that was not only beautiful and eye-catching but also conveyed a sense of mystery. A brilliant designer called Jennie Rawlings from serifim.com gave me just that. Her background is in theatre design and I think she knows exactly how to convey that same sense of drama into her book covers.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
OK – I just had to look up what ‘panster’ means, but I can safely say that yes I am one of these! The Room Beyond grew organically from a few scribbles on a page to a collection of stories to, eventually, a novel. This is one of the many reasons why it took me seven years to write! I love the way it developed but it really isn’t practical. I am trying my very best to be more of a plotter for my second novel – hopefully then it won’t take so long!
Do you think movie adaptations do books justice? Do you have a favourite?
Very rarely. It is extremely hard for a two hour film to do justice to the subtle twists and turns of an entire book. I think that the Lord of the Rings films worked well, mainly because they were brilliantly made and were very very long! E. M. Forster’s Howards End was also superbly adapted.
Being a writer can be lonely. Do you have a support network?
Yes it can be lonely but I also live in a very hectic household with three young children! I love the peace and serenity that writing gives me. It’s my small corner of calm. For support I have my husband, mother and very close circle of friends. Without their encouragement and belief in me I would never have got this far.
What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
Whenever someone tells me that they love my book. I loved writing it and the fact that people all over the world are reading it and enjoying it means everything to me.
Finally Victoria, what are you working on now?
During the writing of The Room Beyond I fell in love with one of my more minor characters – an eccentric Victorian mystic from London’s East End called Walter Balanchine. I am now writing the story of his early life: how he grew up in the workhouse, the development of his strange mystical persona and the way he takes London society by storm with his feats of magic. I’m having great fun with it, Victorian London is my oyster.
Thank you for sharing with us today.
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?