Biography

Photo credit: Anita Watkins Photography

Clarissa was born and raised on the Canadian prairies, where she spent her childhood forcing her younger relatives to play roles in her interminably long family Christmas plays. (She has since apologized to her Traumatized Cousins and Very Patient Elders, all innocent victims of her attempts to realize her artistic vision.) She now contents herself with trying to manipulate the characters in her novels, who regularly surprise her by being just as resistant to her interference as real people.

Clarissa writes historical fiction set mainly in Victorian and Edwardian England. She has been fascinated by all things Victorian since she was a child: the clothes, the elaborate social rituals, the gap between rich and poor, the dizzying pace of advancements in science and technology. When it was time to choose a major in university, she had trouble deciding between history and English literature because she really just wanted to study the Victorians. Ultimately, she chose English and earned a PhD specializing in nineteenth-century British literature.

Her novels pay homage to her favourite Victorian authors: the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. Her favourite living authors include Diane Setterfield, Kate Morton, Jessica Brockmole, and Susanna Kearsley.

In addition to being a novelist and proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Clarissa is a part-time university instructor and full-time grammar nerd who loves to explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses.

Clarissa is represented by Laura Crockett and Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency.