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Debut Print Book: The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St....

I’ve had some concerns by readers who are primarily print readers that the coverage at Dear Author has been too focused on ebooks. When I asked the readers what they were interested in seeing, they responded that they would like to know more about print debut authors. We developed a little questionnaire and every Wednesday at 10:00 AM CST (as long as we have content) we’ll post the questionnaire answers along with links to the author’s site and a buy link to her book. I hope this helps people discovery new books. Now, on to the answers.

Name of debut release: The Haunting of Maddy Clare

Release date: 03/06/2012

Publisher: NAL

2 sentence summary: In 1920’s England, a girl working for a temp agency is assigned to be assistant to a ghost hunter. When they investigate the ghost of a dead servant named Maddy Clare, they get more than they bargained for.

Genre: Gothic, romance, mystery, historical, paranormal

Characters: Sarah Piper is a shy, lonely temp who is swept up in her very first ghost hunting case. Alistair Gellis is a young, rich, eccentric World War I vet who is obsessed with ghosts. Matthew Ryder is Alistair’s assistant – dark, damaged, and haunted by his war experiences.

What makes this story different: It’s a mix of genres. It’s a gothic ghost story, set in the 1920’s, with a romance and a mystery in it as well. The ghost story is the chilling, old-fashioned kind and it’s blended equally with the other elements.

Is this a series?:

Why you wrote this book: I love ghost stories, but most pure ghost stories don’t have a romance plot. I love old-school gothics and wanted to read one that was creepy and scary and romantic at the same time. I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted to read, so I wrote it myself!

Why is this your first published book? How many did you write before? I wrote two full manuscripts and half of a third before this one. The first two were rejected everywhere. I was halfway through my third manuscript and really struggling with it when the idea for this book came to me and wouldn’t let go.

As for why it was published, I think that the top reason was that after two and a half manuscripts, I found a voice that really worked for me. Once I settled into my voice, the writing flowed more easily and got noticed by first an agent, then an editor.

What’s your writing process? I have a day job so currently my writing process is “any way I can, at any time I can scrounge.” I usually start a manuscript longhand in a spiral notebook, because it’s easiest to carry everywhere and never runs low on batteries. Commuter trains, lunch breaks, whatever it takes. Once I have a good handle on what the book will be, I sit down at a computer and type.

When I’m on deadline, it consumes all of my evenings and weekends. I haven’t watched television in well over a year!

Your next published book. An Inquiry into Love and Death, NAL, March 2013

The last book you read that you loved. Just one? Oh gosh. Dark Road to Darjeeling, by Deanna Raybourn. Can’t Buy Me Love, by Molly O’Keefe. And yes, I just cheated.

The last book you read for research. Aside from dry World War I texts? The Pursuit of Love, by Nancy Mitford. Anything about or by the Mitfords is not only great research for the early twentieth-century era, but incredibly entertaining as well.

The romance book character you most identify with. Any Mary Stewart heroine ever. If I had to pick a favorite, possibly Nicola Ferris in the Moon-Spinners or Vanessa March in Airs Above the Ground.


You can check out more about Simone St. James and her books at


Guest Reviewer


  1. Faye
    May 16, 2012 @ 11:51:09

    Interesting! I love the Maisie Dobbs series, and this sounds like a slightly more paranormal version of that (right down to the title of the second book: “An Inquiry into Love and Death” is reminiscent of “The Mapping of Love and Death”). Here’s hoping the price goes down a bit.

  2. Sinead
    May 16, 2012 @ 12:19:16

    This is an amazing book, really, really gripping.

  3. Lazaraspaste
    May 16, 2012 @ 13:03:56

    I agree with Sinead! This book was really, really good. I stayed up until three am finishing it and then I was so creeped out I didn’t sleep. I’m glad to see a resurgence in the old school gothic. I love them and honestly wish there were more books that used the gothic. I also was so pleased that the ghost was real and there wasn’t a Scooby-Doo ending.

    I look forward to your next book!

  4. Simone St. James
    May 16, 2012 @ 13:16:10

    Huh, I seem to have missed the “Is this a series” question. It isn’t a series, but the idea isn’t completely out of the question. I do have ideas…

    Thanks for the post, DA!

  5. Juliana Stone
    May 16, 2012 @ 13:41:15

    I was lucky enough to read this book last year and loved it so much! Very atmospheric and creepy and scary and….I could go on and on….

  6. Maya M.
    May 16, 2012 @ 21:08:09

    I loved this debut also. Pretty cover, great period voice, satisfying ending. Greatly looking forward to Book 2!

  7. Marumae
    May 17, 2012 @ 12:18:39

    I love old school gothics and it’s hard for me NOT to love a book set in the roarin 20’s! I have to check this out asap!

  8. azteclady
    May 18, 2012 @ 19:09:39

    Well, rats.

    I tend to avoid first person narratives–get on my nerves too often–but I really liked the voice in the excerpt, so I’ll have to work it into the minuscule book-budget.

    Thank you, Jane!

  9. Rebecca (Another One)
    May 19, 2012 @ 06:52:26

    I really enjoyed it. It didn’t fall into any romance cliches. In fact I thought I saw one coming, but it didn’t go there. And I liked the ambiguity of the morality of revenge.

  10. Sheri Hart
    May 19, 2012 @ 15:02:08

    Very intriguing. I really enjoyed the excerpt on your website.

  11. Lil
    May 19, 2012 @ 20:55:53

    I just finished this and thought it was fantastic. I’m urging it on all my friends. Congratulations on a terrific debut.

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