Telling the Story

From the outset I wanted to write The Lost Empress with a past narrative, told from a single character’s point of view in that era, as I had previously with To the Grave. I liked the idea of Jefferson Tayte uncovering this character’s secret past life, which I thought tied in well with the backdrop I’d settled on — of the pre-WW1 'spy mania' that had gripped Britain at the time the past story is set.

As usual, I found the research fascinating as I not only sought to understand what it was like to live in Britain during the months leading up to the Great War, but also the resources JT would have to use in order to uncover the truth of what really happened to the subject of his assignment: Alice Stilwell, a British admiral’s daughter in her early twenties, whose life is suddenly turned on its head one day in Holland while accompanying her husband on a business trip with her two young children.

Of course, crime stories tend to open with a murder, and I wanted The Lost Empress to follow that tradition, so some careful plotting was required to link the past story to the present-day crime elements, which JT tries to help the local police solve, believing that there is a link between the two.

If you’ve found my website after having read The Lost Empress, I hope you enjoyed it. If you’ve not yet read it, but plan to do so, I hope you find it as interesting and engaging to read as it was to write.

The Lost Empress
A Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery #4


Early in 2013 I set out to find a Jefferson Tayte mystery to follow The Last Queen of England. As The Lost Empress would be released in 2014, I initially started looking for something that tied in with the centenary of the outbreak of WW1, but I didn’t want it to be directly about the war itself. When I came across the tragic sinking of the RMS Empress of Ireland, which happened on 29 May 1914, I knew I had found what I was looking for. The more I read about the ship and her passengers, the more important it became to me to help to keep the memory of this relatively forgotten maritime disaster alive. The Lost Empress was inspired by that fateful night in 1914, which forms a key part of the mystery Jefferson Tayte must unravel.

RMS Empress of Ireland (1906-1914)

Built in Scotland for the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Empress of Ireland was the pride of the company’s White Empress fleet. On 28 May 1914, she departed Quebec City on her ninety-sixth voyage, bound for Liverpool., and in the early hours of the following morning, she was struck by the Norwegian collier SS Storstad. She sank in just fourteen minutes, with a loss of 1015 lives, making this maritime disaster comparable to the Titanic and the Lusitania. And yet the tragedy of the Empress of Ireland has been relatively forgotten. She now lies four miles off land in Canada’s St Lawrence River, where she met her fate on that cold, foggy night in 1914.

Back CoverTLE_back_cover.html

‘From acclaimed author Steve Robinson comes a bold new Jefferson Tayte mystery.’

I would encourage you to learn more about the Empress of Ireland and her fateful last voyage. Here are some links to a few of the websites I visited during my research. There are many more to discover, including those webpages that have since been created to commemorate the centenary of the disaster, and in doing so  help  to preserve her memory.

Pointe-au-Père Site historique maritime

Merseyside Maritime Museum

Norway Heritage

Sea-view Diving