Hello, lovely #MyBookMoment subscribers!
I’m so pleased that The Stranger Diaries has been chosen to be a Book Moment. It’s my first stand-alone as Elly Griffiths though I did write four other novels under my real name, Domenica de Rosa (I know it sounds made-up). When I wrote my first Dr Ruth Galloway book, The Crossing Places, about a forensic archaeologist who gets caught up in a murder case, my then agent said ‘It’s crime! You need a crime name.’ I decided to choose my grandmother’s name. She was Ellen Griffiths but, somewhere along the line, my publishers decided that I should be Elly. Apparently it just ‘looked tidier’!
I’ve since written eleven books in the Dr Ruth Galloway series (number twelve comes out in February), five in my Brighton Mysteries series set in the 1950s and a children’s book. Last year I decided it was time for a chance. I love Victorian and Gothic literature, especially Wilkie Collins, but didn’t want to write a historical novel . The inspiration came when I was teaching creative writing at West Dean College, a beautiful old house in the West Sussex countryside. There’s a spiral staircase leading up to the attics that’s imprinted with the footprints of a previous owner’s wife. I started thinking: what if my story is set in a school that had once been the home of a famous writer? And what if there’s a spiral staircase…?
The Stranger Diaries is partly set in Talgarth High, a modern-day comprehensive that includes an old building where Victorian writer RM Holland once lived. Holland was famous for a ghost story called The Stranger. Clare Cassidy teaches at the school and is also writing a book about Holland. Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from The Stranger by her body. Harbinder Kaur, the detective investigating the case and an ex-Talgarth pupil, is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case. Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…
I hope you enjoy The Stranger Diaries. Just leave the lights on when you go to bed!