Today, I am so excited to bring you an interview with the talented and rising author Stephanie Elmas. Stephanie has written an incredible book called “The Room Beyond.” Check out the interview and learn more about her work below. Thank you so much, Stephanie, for taking the time to tell us more about you!
Can you tell us a little about you and your work?
I am thirty-six years old and live in the UK, just outside London. I’ve had a really mixed upbringing: my Father is English, my Mother is Czech and I was born in Hong Kong. To make matters even more interesting my husband is Turkish, so my three children have quite a genetic melting pot going on (of which, needless to say, they are very proud)! We live in a big noisy house with gentle green rolling countryside just moments away. In the other direction we have London close by, so it’s a nice position to be in. When I’m not dashing off to school, rummaging through mounds of laundry, trying to get vegetables into my grumpy two year old, attending swimming galas etc etc, I am writing! It’s the thing I love doing most in the world. I have written one book so far, The Room Beyond, but I have about ten more in my head. Now that I’ve written one, nothing will stop me making this a lifelong career.
When did you first know that you were going to be an author?
The Room Beyond took me seven long years to write. This was mainly because I had a young daughter already and went on to have my other two children during that time. It’s been a busy few years. When I started writing it I was actually trying my best to avoid doing some real work. I was supposed to be researching for a Phd and instead I was sitting in the library twiddling my thumbs. In my heart I knew I just didn’t have the time or passion to complete my studies. And so, I picked up my pen and started writing a story. I loved it, and as soon as it started taking shape I knew I was an author.
Tell us about your most recent work and where we can find it.
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.
You find The Room Beyond on Amazon.com:
How has publishing been different than you expected?
Publishing The Room Beyond was one long battle. The first massive hurdle was getting an agent, which only happened after a great number of rejections and many re-writes. Then there was the nightmare of trying to secure a publisher as an unknown, non-celebrity writer in a huge recession. I actually got to the final round with a major publisher before being turned down because my book wasn’t a romance. Although The Room Beyond has many ‘romantic’ elements in it, it just doesn’t quite fall neatly enough into that genre. It was heart breaking until my agent offered to support me through the Amazon White Glove Programme. This is an agent based scheme for quality self-published books through Amazon. From the moment it went out to the public, my world turned upside down. I’ve loved every minute of being published and have come into contact with many wonderful readers and reviewers all over the world.
What does your creative process look like?
Writing a book isn’t just about being chained to a computer and waiting for the muse to take hold of you. Some of my best ideas have come to me whilst waiting at a traffic light or mowing the lawn! There have been times when I’ve had to rush out of the shower to find a pen before that ‘perfect sentence’ escapes my brain. However, ultimately you do have to put the hours into writing a book. It’s a lengthy process that requires a lot of patience and can be frustrating when the words don’t flow. I write best in the mornings when my brain is fresh and the house is a quiet as possible.
How important do you think word of mouth/reviews are in getting attention for a book?
Absolutely vital! Most of the books I’ve read have been recommended to me and I think that most people would rather buy a book that has a selection of good reviews than one that has nothing to say for it at all. Before I published The Room Beyond I had no idea how active and vocal the online reading community is. I feel like I’ve been dragged out of the Dark Ages and it’s opened up a whole new world to me.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
Probably Miranda. She’s the character that most of my readers seem to like best too. She’s married to an awful man, Tristan, and 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. For me she is the heroine of the novel. I also love Walter Balanchine, a strange Victorian mystic from London’s poor East End. He wears extraordinary wizard-like clothes and has bottles and charms hanging from around his neck. His early life is the subject of my next novel.
Any advice for fellow writers about taking the plunge into publishing?
Be strong, it’s a jungle out there! If you a find a traditional publisher then that’s fantastic but you are most likely to meet a lot of rejection along the way. Always take criticism on the chin and keep working to make your writing as good as it can possibly be. The competition is fierce and there is no room for pride. On the upside the possibilities for self-published authors are better than they have ever been and the publishing world is changing dramatically. Recently a UK self-published author reached the No. 1 spot on Amazon. It can be done and if you’re willing to put the time and effort into it then it’s a great ride.
Where can we find you?
Amazon of course, I gave the links above.
My website is: www.stephanieelmas.com
Feel free to contact me, I always love a chat!
I’d like to thank Ionia for all her amazing support and her wonderful review.