Stephanie Elmas describes herself as a true English girl in the following interview. Born in Hong Kong, moving to Bristol and then studying in London, she has finally wound up in Surrey with her husband and three children. Stephanie drinks tea by the gallon and writes books that reflect her fascination for the Victorian period. Her second book is due out some time soon.
According to her website, Stephanie has a love of the dark dangerous world of Victorian sensation writing and that love comes across strongly in her first book, The Room Beyond. Part suspense, part ghost story and set in both Victorian and present day London the book is full of mysteries, which like any good ghost story aren’t all explained or resolved until the very end.
Stephanie has woven an intriguing set of very dysfunctional and not altogether likeable characters (for reasons which become clear as you read about their various motivations) into her story which revolves around the linking of past events to the present day.
Three women dominate the story line, Serena in the present day, Miranda and Lucinda in the past and it is in their ‘relationships’ that the story really comes alive. It is not an obvious ghost story as it contains a glorious set of different story lines involving romance, horror and even madness, each of which might have been sufficient in itself. But it does reach a very satisfying conclusion which results in Serena who, although naive, is nicest of all the participants escaping much wiser than she was when she started. This could be the ideal read for those who love a Christmas ghost story.
The Stephanie Elmas Interview
What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
I once had to fight for a parking space with actor Hugh Grant! Yes it’s absolutely true. I’d only just passed my driving test so was still an extremely nervous driver and making my way through busy central London streets. There were several road closures and a thunderstorm broke out; the roads turned to chaos.
I inched up the clogged narrow streets, searching for somewhere to park, only to come head to head with a huge black car. The face behind the wheel belonged to none other than Hugh Grant. He looked sullen, I gulped and we both reversed away from each other.
What happened next was a deadly fight for a parking space. Whichever road I turned into, Hugh Grant would inevitably roll up there too. But at last a magical space appeared …and then, of course, so did Hugh. It was a small excuse for a parking space, but I had the smaller car. I won!
Are the names of your characters important to you?
Yes I think names are important; they bring a character to life. One of my favourite books from school was Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native, mainly because I loved the heroine in it called Eustacia Vye. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a name that has embodied a character so well. She couldn’t possibly have been called anything else.
Have you ever wished that you could be or do anything else instead of writing, and if so what?
From a very young age I was adamant that one day I’d become a famous actress. My parents eventually sent me to drama classes where I soon discovered that pretending to be a tree was an extremely embarrassing exercise and writing stories was much more fun. Perhaps I went to the wrong classes but overall I think this was a good thing.
Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?
Firstly, stick with it. If I had a Pound for every time someone said to me that they wanted to write a book then I’d be rich by now! Very few of those people actually sit down and begin writing and even fewer get to the end. Finishing a book, and inevitably rewriting it a few times is a massive commitment.
Secondly, be humble. Take advice from people in the industry who know what they’re talking about. Accept criticism about your writing and always look for ways to improve it. There’s no room for pride and it will make you a better writer.
Are you jealous of other writers?
I think jealous is the wrong word. I admire writers who are able to make a living from what they do as I honestly think it’s the best job in the world. I envy them of course, but only in the nicest possible way!
Where do you find your inspiration?
I write about what I know – it’s safer that way. I researched nineteenth century sensation fiction when I was doing my Masters degree and was completely fascinated by it. Wilkie Collins is perhaps the most famous writer to have emerged from that genre. I used what I knew about that style of writing, along with my knowledge of London as my basis for The Room Beyond. London is my favourite city and it ignites me with endless inspiration to write.
What was the most important thing you learned at school?
School is a microcosm of the real world. There are some people you get on with and some you don’t but you’re stuck there whether you like it or not and you have to survive. I also learned many ingenious ways of avoiding sport.
What is the book that you wished you had written?
The Railway Children. I read it to my own children recently and burst into tears at the end. My kids thought I’d gone mad!
Tea, Coffee, Water, Juice, Wine or Beer … which do you prefer when writing?
Tea, absolutely. I’m a real English girl and drink bucket loads of it. If I don’t have enough tea I start to go a bit weird – I’m assuming that means I’m horribly addicted. Oh well, I suppose there are worse things …
Where can I find out more about Stephanie and buy her books?
- Website: www.stephanieelmas.com
- Twitter: @stephanieelmas
- Facebook: facebook.com/TheRoomBeyondbyStephanieElmas
Why ‘The Thursday Throng’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.
If you would like to see all the Authors who have been featured on The Thursday Throng you can click here: womanontheedgeofreality.com/2012/06/17/the-thursday-throng/