Author(s): Susan Stairs
The Story of Before draws a finely detailed portrait of children struggling to understand the adult world - with dangerous and unsettling consequences. A powerful and deeply moving story, reminiscent of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones I wonder today how no one else could see the bad thing coming. Not that I knew back then what the bad thing was; and if I had - if I'd known one of us was going to die - would there have been anything I could have done to prevent it? I play it all back in my mind, over and over. The clues were all there. On New Year's Eve, eleven-year-old Ruth and her brother and sister sit at a bedroom window, watching the garden of their new Dublin home being covered in a thick blanket of snow. Ruth declares that a bad thing will happen in the coming year - she's sure of it. But she cannot see the outline of that thing - she cannot know that it will change their lives utterly, that the shape of their future will be carved into two parts; the before and the after. Or that it will break her heart and break her family. This is Ruth's story. It is the story of before.
Born in London, Susan Stairs has lived in Ireland since early childhood. Involved in the art business for many years, she has written extensively about Irish art and artists. She received an MA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award in the same year. She lives in Dublin with her family. The Story of Before is her first novel.