The Haunting of Maddy Clare debuts!
It’s debut week here at Get Lost In A Story, and today we are celebrating our own Simone St. James’ “The Haunting of Maddy Clare.” I have been dying to read this book since I first heard of it over a year ago…that’s a LONG time to wait when you’re as impatient as I. In fact, while you are reading this blog, I am likely reading this book…
Sarah Piper’s lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis – rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts – has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah’s task to confront her in death.
Soon Sarah is caught up in a desperate struggle. For Maddy’s ghost is real, she’s angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair’s assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance – before she destroys them all?
Before I toddle off to read, let’s learn a little about the author, Simone St. James, and why she chose to write ghost stories…
Heather: I noticed on your website that the very first book your wrote (in high school) was a ghost story about a haunted library? What draws you to stories about haunted places and people?
Simone: I've always loved ghost stories - they're fun, entertaining, spine-chilling without being horror. Even better, as a writer, a ghost story can be anything you want it to be. It can be a deep metaphor for the things your characters can't let go of, and it can also be a ripping yarn at the same time. Ghost stories don't really have many conventions for how they are supposed to go, so you have a lot of room to do anything you want with the concept. And I suppose I'm quite fascinated with the idea of characters being haunted by their pasts in some way - which lends itself perfectly to the concept.
Heather: How long have you been writing? How many books did you write before selling “The Haunting of Maddy Clare?”
Simone: I've been writing all my life, but I began to seriously write for publication sometime in 2004-2005. I had just discovered historical romance (Mary Balogh! Laura Kinsale!) and I wanted to be a historical romance writer. I took nearly two years to finish that first book, which was rejected everywhere. I wrote a second historical romance and half of a third which also got rejected - and then I took a bit of a break to regroup and focus on my craft. I entered contests (all of which I flunked), got a critique partner, and began to rework my ideas. Finally I wrote The Haunting of Maddy Clare as a total risk - it was just a story that spoke to me, and I didn't think anyone would publish it. Within a few months of finishing I had an agent, and a few months after that, the book was sold.
I love historical romance, but I'm just not very good at writing it. The reading public should be thankful I got all those rejections!
Heather: Are there any authors or books that inspired you while you were writing this particular story?
Simone: Nothing inspired me for this particular story - it was born more out of what I'd like to see as a reader. I really wanted a spooky ghost story, that wasn't horror, that featured a female main character, and had a good, satisfying romance in it. I couldn't really find one, so I wrote one myself. However, I love classic ghost stories (M. R. James, E. F. Benson, and all those extremely strange writers), and I think (maybe? It's possible I missed one or two) that I've read everything Stephen King has ever written. So even though I'm a would-be romance writer, I definitely have a dark side as a reader!
Anyone who wants to read a cracking ghost story that will turn your hair white must read The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill. I just saw the movie the other week and it was fantastic. (Daniel Radcliffe! Awesome.)
Heather: Tell us a little about your process?
Simone: My process is pretty much to stare into space for about six months, while images and ideas tumble around in my head, and my family and friends wonder if I'm on some kind of crazy medications or something. Then I write some stuff in a spiral notebook (this is fooling my writer-brain into thinking it's "not really writing.") Then I sit down at an official computer and get going. In the times when I'm stuck, I go back to the spiral notebook until I'm un-stuck. (Again, "not really writing", lol.) Then I do what all writers have to do at some point or another - I keep typing until THE END.
Heather: What will you be doing today to celebrate the release of your debut novel?
Simone: Well, today is a work day like any other, actually! I do have some chocolate I plan to indulge in. I'll be celebrating more on the weekend, when my family is taking me out to dinner. And I think I'll find time to sneak to a bookstore and stare at my book on the shelf!
Heather: Thank you, Simone, and huge congratulations!!! I’d like to leave you with one of the most famous ghost sighting photos, The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England.
Do you believe in ghosts? If so, why? One random commenter will win a $10 gift card to your bookseller of choice!