Tonight, I am delighted to be having Friday Night Drinks with author and fellow member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association….Elaine Everest.
Elaine, thank you so much for taking the time to join me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
Thank you for inviting me for drinks, Julie. A glass of Prosecco would go down a treat!
Dry January is finally over, so joining you in a glass of Prosecco would seem the perfect way to celebrate. Cheers! If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
It would be delightful to meet in real life. After careful thought, I’d take you along to one of the writing classes I run. My novel writing students at The Write Place in Hextable, Kent would love to meet you. We often celebrate publishing successes with cake and bubbly so with luck you could celebrate with us. The writers also like to meet real life bloggers so there would be a list of questions for you to answer!
That sounds great, I love meeting other writers. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
Being selfish I would like to invite along Winston Churchill to quiz him about WW2 as he does pop up in my books occasionally as my characters are extremely pro Churchill. The second person would have to be a writer, and who better than crime writer Peter James. I’m hooked on his books and we share the same publisher although he is oblivious to my existence!
Interesting choices! Maybe Peter will see this, who knows? So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
At the moment I am writing about Woolworths once again. This time we leave the war years behind and visit 1947 and 1948. I’m busy researching what went on at that time in history and how it would affect my characters.
Sounds like fun but a lot of work. I have always been immensely in awe of people who write detailed historical fiction and all the research that entails. I have an idea for a dual timeline plot for a future book but the idea is a little intimidating, I have to admit. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
My proudest moment has been when readers contact me to say how much they love my stories and to share their own experiences of working in Woolworths. Ten years after this iconic store closed it is still thought of with fondness. My biggest challenge has been not to disappoint my readers and to make sure I don’t fabricate what went on at that time. Whether it is worldwide events, local news, or Woolies itself I must stay true to the time and the people – no pressure!
Rather you than me, I know how critical we readers can be if we spot incorrect details. (I almost threw a book last year after the writer twisted a fundamental point of UK law, only the fact of it being on my Kindle stopped me!) What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
My goodness what a question! I’d like to be taken seriously as an author of historical fiction. So often saga writers are not taken as seriously as writers of other genres. Also, we have this tag of being ‘romantic writers’ with a pink and frothy image. Many of my friends in the writing world will agree that sagas and romance are seen on every supermarket shelf and are often found in the best seller charts so it is time to take us all seriously! So if I may I’d like to share my wish with my fellow writers if that is okay?
Of course, I agree that romance writers and saga writers do not seem to get the respect they deserve, given how popular those genres are. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
As mentioned earlier, I’ve rolled up my sleeves to get stuck into Wedding Bells at Woolworths (a working title) as it has to be filed with my publisher, Pan Macmillan, in mid April. However, the first book in my new series about the women who worked as Nippies in the Joe Lyons teashops on the Kent coast will be published on May 2nd. The Teashop Girls is already available for pre order and has the most fabulous cover, thanks to the designers at Pan Macmillan – such a great team to work with. Already I have ideas for book two in the series and beginning to feel excited about taking Rose, Lily an Katie into 1941…
As for further book ideas – there are so many that I need more hours in the day.
It is early 1940 and World War Two has already taken a hold on the country. Rose Neville works as a Lyon’s Teashop Nippy on the Kent coast alongside her childhood friends, the ambitious Lily and Katie, whose fiancé is about to be posted overseas in the navy. As war creates havoc in Europe, Rose relies on the close friendship of her friends and her family.
When Capt. Benjamin Hargreaves walks into her life, Rose is immediately drawn to him. But as Lyon’s forbids courting between staff and customers, she tries to put the handsome officer out of her mind.
In increasingly dark and dangerous times, Rose fears there may not be time to waste. But is the dashing captain what he seems?
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
I’m one of those people who has always owned dogs – many dogs – and along with my husband we have exhibited, bred and been involved in the dog world since way back when… When we’ve had at least half a dozen Old English Sheepdogs in the house, holidays and travel is spent going to dog shows and staying in cottages in the UK where we have enjoyed many lovely holidays. However, having just the one dog at the moment – Henry is a Polish Lowland Sheepdog – and as I hit a ‘special’ birthday at Christmas, I will soon be striking something off my bucket list. Many many years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I went to Switzerland on a school trip. It has always been my dream to return so we are doing that this coming summer. We will be travelling by train from St Pancras station on a tour that will take in many places that I want to show my husband. Henry will be going into kennels – sshh, he thinks it is a luxury holiday home for precious pooches!
That sounds wonderful, I hope you enjoy the trip and that Henry is happy in his luxury dog hotel! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
My goodness I’m such a blabbermouth that I’ve told most of my secrets. Hmm I used to be a Brown Owl and run a Brownie pack in Erith, Kent – very much as one of my characters does in the Woolworths series. When I married in 1972 as an innocent eighteen year old (with a mortgage), all the Brownies arrived and stood to attention as we left the church. Not a major secret but a happy memory!
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
I’d like to take you back to my childhood year when my parents took us to Ramsgate for two weeks each year – before we graduated to the Isle of Wight. I would accompany my mum to the second hand bookshop where we would spend hours rummaging for hidden gems. This is where I discovered Little Women and to this day can recall the delight of finding a character in that book to identify with. Yes, I wanted to be Jo and write all day and create magical characters. Mum died when I was seventeen but I do hope she knows that this child’s dream came true.
This is one of my all-time favourite books and I, too, dreamed of being Jo March and writing in my garret, wrapped in a shawl and eating russet apples. So lovely that your dream has come true (minus garret, I assume). So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
A large cup of tea and a bacon sandwich! I’m not sure if it does cure a hangover but at least I can enjoy the experiment.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
I’d make a trip to M&S to purchase some of their yummy pre cooked food and then spend the rest of the weekend reading, eating and watching old movies on television. My husband can walk Henry!
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Julie and cheers! xx
No, thank you for agreeing to come on, I have enjoyed our chat immensely and I hope we can do it for real at an RNA event this year…I will seek you out and pick your brains about historical research!
Elaine’s Woolworths series, including the latest, A Gift from Woolworths, are out now and you can get a copy here. Elaine’s new book, The Teashop Girls will be published on 2 May and you can pre-order it here.
As the war moves into 1945 the lives of the women of Woolworths continue. When store manager, Betty Billington, announces she is expecting Douglas’s baby her future life is about to change more than she expects.
Freda has fallen in love with the handsome Scottish engineer but will it end happily?
Maisie loves being a mother and also caring for her two nieces although she still has her own dreams. When her brother appears on the scene he brings unexpected danger to the family.
Meanwhile Sarah dreams of her husband’s return and a cottage with roses around the door but Woolworths beckons.
Will our girls sail into times of peace, or will they experience more heartache and sorrow? With a wedding on the horizon, surely only happiness lies ahead – or does it?
Elaine Everest, author of Bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths, and Wartime at Woolworths was born and brought up in North West Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty years and has written widely for women’s magazines and national newspapers, with both short stories and features. Her non-fiction books for dog owners have been very popular and led to broadcasting on radio about our four legged friends. Elaine has been heard discussing many topics on radio from canine subjects to living with a husband under her feet when redundancy looms.
When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school at The Howard Venue in Hextable, Kent and has a long list of published students.
Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Crime Writers Association, The Society of Women Writers & Journalists and The Society of Authors.
To find out more about Elaine and her books, join her on social media:
Facebook: Elaine Everest Author
Next week, I will be drinking with one of my favourite book bloggers, Jo Park, of Over The Rainbow Book Blog, so make sure you join us.