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About the author:
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.
What inspired you to write your book?
I was sitting in the British Library attempting to do some research for my PhD. The work wasn’t going well; I already had a young family and in the back of my mind I was worried that I just wouldn’t be able to give enough time to my studies. I’d always wanted to pursue an academic career but when I actually got the chance to do it my heart just wasn’t there anymore. So, when I was supposed to be working, I began to scribble the beginnings of a story down instead. I’d based the dissertation for my Masters degree on Victorian sensation writing: authors like Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I’d loved doing that research and it was all still fresh in my mind. It was just inevitable that I’d end up writing my own Victorian sensation drama. The exciting challenge was weaving the modern day story into it as well.
Here is a short sample from the book:
The corner of his mouth curled up into a smile at the sound of my voice and, slowly, he turned to face me.
His eyes were glacial; so translucent that they barely passed for blue. And in that first brief moment when they met mine, they seemed to sear right through something deep inside me. It made me want to draw my stomach up into my chest. I wavered a little, betrayed an anxious laugh and the eyes instantly softened in response; all that lucid blueness mellowing into a more apologetic grey.
But the side of my cheek felt the onslaught of yet more eyes: Eva watching me like a hawk, her face wide with interest, astonishment even. Her mouth was actually gaping open a little.
‘This is Serena, she’s my new nanny.’
Beth’s voice sounded cautious, as if she were testing tricky waters.
‘Well thank God you’re here. We’ve been waiting for someone like you for ages, haven’t we?’
Beth didn’t reply.
He shook my hand and his skin felt cool against mine. ‘I’m Sebastian White, friend of the family.’
‘But we all call him Seb and he’s always hanging around here,’ said Beth.
He hurled a cushion from behind his back in her direction. ‘I’m a big favourite of hers, as you can see.’
His eyes met mine again and then he scanned my body up and down. I felt my face turn scarlet.