I’ve been trying and trying to unpick just why The Other Daughter is Mary Stewart to me. There’s no exotic location (just London and Oxford); it’s set a good thirty years earlier than most of the Stewart books; and, although I initially began writing it in the first person, a la Stewart, it shifted quickly to third person and stayed that way.
There are a few obvious points. In homage to one of my favorite books of all time, Nine Coaches Waiting, I made my heroine, Rachel, a nursery governess employed in France (although Rachel’s employers aren’t homicidal, which does make a change). And the story is told only in Rachel’s viewpoint, the first time I’ve ever written a single viewpoint story.
In the end, though, what made me look to Mary Stewart while writing this book is that Mary Stewart specializes in ordinary, sensible human beings placed in extraordinary situations. Her heroines are all just so down to earth. Intrigue and mayhem may follow them around, but they face it all with calm good sense and a great deal of pluck– and that was exactly what I was trying to do with The Other Daughter: take an ordinary person and throw her into a bizarre turn of events. How often, after all, do you discover that your supposedly dead (and unimportant) father is really alive– and an earl? And that everything you knew about your life was, in fact, a lie?
Have you read Mary Stewart? Which is your favorite?
Stay tuned next week for an excerpt from The Other Daughter!