Spotlight On… O.N. Stefan

O.N. Stefan lives in Sydney, Australia and finds inspiration for the characters in her books from everywhere and anywhere.  The car chase scenes are from O.N. Stefan’s memory banks because, as a child, she witnessed many car accidents as she lived near a bad T-intersection.

Nearly every weekend vehicles miscalculated the sharp corner and either ran into a light post, an oncoming car, flipped over or spun out hitting other cars in the process. Her dad would run over to see if an ambulance needed to be called, as they were the only family in the street to have a phone. He’d take blankets over if anyone was badly injured and she would help him.

Interview

When did you first conceive the wonderful idea for your book, ‘The Deadly Caress’?

The idea came to me while reading a newspaper article about daughters trying to find their birth mothers. I wondered if I could put a twist on that idea and The Deadly Caress was born.

How much research did you need to do to make this story come alive, and did you have a system?

The Deadly Caress took a fair amount of research into police procedures and the prison system in the US. I emailed a detective in Monterey who was very helpful. Also, for what it was like inside the prison system in the US, I did all my research online by reading blogs from prisoners who aren’t reticent about writing about everything from rape to beatings, online diagrams of layouts inside and articles posted online from newspapers. Also, I went to Wollongong, NSW, to find the locations I needed for the beach car chase scene and the places Amada Blake visits in my story.

What is it about crime writing over other forms of writing that appeals to you?

I enjoy writing about the challenges my protagonist has to face, although I do get upset when I put her/him into dark situations and have to fight with myself to get past this.

You’ve been writing for ten years now. Does it get any easier with practice?

I have been writing for ten years but initially that was on a part-time basis with the odd year that I wasn’t writing at all. It’s only in the last year that I’ve been writing full-time. The thing that gets easier is that you know how to go about the whole process. Although, finding interesting characters and sustaining a plot for the length of a novel gets harder. Your readers trust you to entertain them with your unique style and voice and you can’t let them down.

I don’t work on more than one story at a time, as it gets too confusing. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think about my next story as I do that constantly.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have been given?

Sit down and write. Don’t look back just keep going forward until the end. Once you have a story, then you can edit it. If you don’t have your story down and you stop to edit, it’s too easy to choke the flow of ideas.

What’s next for O.N. Stefan?

Currently I’m editing my next thriller that will be launched early next year.

Excerpt from Chapter Four of The Deadly Caress 

Amanda zipped up her raspberry-colored dress, and then stepped into her sandals, her thoughts centered on Dorian’s argument with Jean last night.

She recalled her mother’s words before Dorian strode away. ‘I’m sorry. I was going to tell you.’

Still wounded by Jean’s confession that she hadn’t been able to tell Murray she’d had twins, Amanda pulled aside the silk drapes, and the weak morning sun streamed in.

More than half of last night, she’d mulled over how it must have been for Jean faced with that decision. How could she begin to understand when she’d never had children?

That she blamed herself for the loss of her own unborn child at the age of twenty had been more than enough guilt for her to carry. It had been a horrific way to wake up to what she was doing to her body and start eating properly again.

From her bedroom, she could see a path curving from the veranda, past a winding narrow garden of mauve irises and white lilies; and at the cliff face, steps that disappeared downwards to the beach. Near the steps grew two Cypress pines that clung precariously to the rocky cliff face and leaned towards the restless, churning, water.

Even after last night’s incident, and the conflicting emotions that had brought her here, she was glad she’d come and been given the chance to meet her twin. Being part of a family again made her feel whole. She opened the window and heard the ocean crashing angrily against the rocks and the wind wooing as it skidded past the house.

No matter what the weather brought, she was looking forward to spending time with Brian.

A glance at the clock told her it was seven-thirty. She picked up her earrings from the French provincial dresser, had pushed one hoop in her lobe when she heard a scream.

The woman screamed again. Amanda opened the door and hurried toward the sound, which seemed to be coming from a room at the far end of the hallway.

She stopped in the doorway to Jean’s room. Estella stood sobbing beside a writing bureau, her face buried in her hands. A broken cup lay at her feet. She looked up as Amanda entered.

‘She’s….’ Her voice trailed off.

Amanda couldn’t understand her, but she noticed the stricken woman staring towards the ensuite bathroom, its door half-open.

Heart hammering, she pushed the door open as far as it would go.

‘No,’ she gasped. ‘No.’

Jean was sprawled on the tiled floor, her eyes open, staring at nothing, her mouth agape as if wanting to say one last word. Her blue satin dressing gown had fallen open, revealing her negligee.

A sense of unreality gripped Amanda.

‘Is she?’ Amanda couldn’t say the word but she knew the answer to her question. There was no life left in her mother’s body.

A toothbrush lay beside Jean’s outstretched fingers. Amanda stared hard at them, wanting them to curl around the handle, to show some small sign of life.

Finally, she moved her gaze to the marble vanity. There lay the mundane necessities of the living—a half-drunk glass of water, an open bottle of mouthwash, toothpaste, an open bottle of pills, perfume, lipstick and a compact.

The blue dressing gown…

Was it still a dream…her dream? She opened her mouth to scream but no sound came out. The sound of water cascading from the faucet echoed through her thoughts.

The scene swam out of focus. Her head felt light, and the room seemed suddenly darker. She could smell the soft scent of wildflowers and sandalwood as she felt herself sink to the floor.

Join us

Become a member of the NSW Writers' Centre to get Newswrite magazine, discounts to courses and festivals, mentorship, free access to writers' groups, writers' spaces, members' events, the library and more. Join now ›

Follow us on