My Favorite Bit: Grace Curtis talks about FLOATING HOTEL

Grace Curtis is joining us today to talk about her novel, The Floating Hotel. Here’s the publisher’s description:

This cozy science fiction novel tells a story of misfits, rebels, found family—and a mystery that spans the stars

Welcome to the Grand Abeona Hotel: home of the finest food, the sweetest service, and the very best views the galaxy has to offer. All year round it moves from planet to planet, system to system, pampering guests across the furthest reaches of the milky way. The last word in sub-orbital luxury—and an absolute magnet for intrigue. Intrigues such as: Why are there love poems in the lobby inbox? How many Imperial spies are currently on board? What is the true purpose of the Problem Solver’s conference? And perhaps most pertinently—  who is driving the ship?

Each guest has a secret, every member of staff a universe unto themselves. At the center of these interweaving lives and interlocking mysteries stands Carl, one time stowaway, longtime manager, devoted caretaker to the hotel. It’s the love of his life and the only place he’s ever called home. But as forces beyond Carl’s comprehension converge on the Abeona, he has to face one final question: when is it time to let go?

What’s Grace’s favorite bit?

The first time I read Rebecca, I didn’t even notice until the last few pages that the main character was missing a name. 

It’s one of the greatest sleight of hand tricks in that sinister, beguiling puzzlebox of a novel; though we’re locked into her perspective from start to finish, the narrator is somehow less present than the ghost that haunts the pages. I felt genuine guilt for not realizing – as if I, like everyone else in the story, had ignored her humanity in some essential way. 

Rebecca opens in a luxury hotel in Monte Carlo. The narrator is a mild-mannered woman in her twenties, acting as an assistant to a spoiled, bitter old lady. Desperate to escape her situation, she agrees to marry a wealthy widower, and winds up stranded at his sprawling country estate in the Cornish countryside. After that everything goes fine. Just kidding. 

Daphne St Cloud is the sixth narrator and newest member of staff in my latest novel Floating Hotel, a sci-fi mystery about the guests, staff and secrets residing aboard a wandering spaceship hotel called The Grand Abeona. Her forename comes from Daphne du Maurier, author of Rebecca, and her surname St Cloud is in reference to St Cloud’s orphanage from The Cider House Rules (Daphne is herself a kind of orphan). Name-wise, she’s got the best literary pedigree of the whole cast. Daphne begins the novel working as an assistant to an awful countess, meek and browbeaten and more or less resigned to a life of abuse. Then the hotel accidentally takes off with her still aboard. 

Yes, folks, the rumors are true: I secretly wrote fanfiction for du Maurier’s gothic masterpiece into my spaceship book. I’m sure the genre police will kick my door in any minute now, but in the meantime I’ll just say that good ideas can come from anywhere, and am I really so wrong for wanting to save the girl from Rebecca by giving her a career change instead of a terrifying middle aged husband? Is that a crime? IS THAT A CRIME, I SAY??

Ahem. Anyhow. My original idea was to have Daphne act as the reader’s entry point into the Abeona, the classic fish-out-of-water type of character to help us find our footing in an unfamiliar world. The book wound up taking a different shape, and for a long while I was stuck. What would Daphne’s story be? I knew where she fit into the overarching plot, but I needed some problems closer to home to make her chapter work. 

I won’t tell you how I fixed it here – spoilers, etc – but the solution I landed on was, I think, a good one, and echoes some of Daphne’s gothic DNA. Even in a different life, in a different solar system, the ghosts of the past have a way of finding us, and settling under the skin…


Book Link

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Grace Curtis is a freeroaming writer from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Her debut novel Frontier, a queer space western about climate change (really), came out in March 2023. When she’s not dreaming up stories, Grace can usually be found up a hill somewhere,…

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