Friday Night Drinks… with Elaine Roberts

FRIDAY NIGHT DRINKS

Friday has come around slowly this week! I’ve been very distracted and restless due to the kids being back in school for the first time since March, so I’m really ready for a drink tonight and I am delighted that I have a fellow RNA member and author to keep me company. Welcome to the blog… Elaine Roberts.

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Elaine, thank you so much for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thank you for inviting me, I’ll have a Pimms please. It’s one of my favourite tipples; I love a drink that comes with nibbles.

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Lovely, I’ll have one of those too. 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?

I would opt for the theatre; I love a live show or concert and a good meal so it would have to involve food as well. Living relatively close to London and having an excellent local theatre there are always plenty of options.

That would be marvellous, I have really missed trips to the theatre during lockdown. 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?

I do like a good laugh so I would invite Victoria Wood and Michael McIntyre. They both have had interesting lives. I was lucky enough to see them live and spent the whole evening laughing.

Victoria Wood is a popular choice, I’m very jealous that you saw her live, I absolutely loved her. I’ve seem Michael McIntyre, he is extremely funny. I think we all need a good laugh these days! 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?

I’m currently planning and writing the third book in The West End Girls series. It can be complicated when you are writing a series because the books still need to stand-alone. The challenge is to add backstory without giving too much away. I keep changing my mind about which way the story is going so that involves a lot of brainstorming on my part. It takes time for my mind to formulate the story I want to write. This will potentially be the last book in The West End Girls series for my publisher, Aria, Head of Zeus. 

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

I have two proud moments. The first thing I ever had published was a short story, I was never interested in writing them but at the time I was attending The Write Place, which is a writing class, and was told to have a go. At the time I didn’t appreciate what a good learning curve it was to write to a word count. That story was the first time I had experienced someone wanting something I had written, I have to say I couldn’t believe it and was dancing around my front room when I got the email offering to purchase it. My second one is being offered my first three-book contract with Aria, Head of Zeus. I’m in the process of writing my second series for them, The West End Girls.

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What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

I have written for as long as I can remember but only started taking it seriously about ten years ago, at that time I just wanted to write a novel and see it in the shops. I joined The Write Place and found out I had a lot to learn. To some extent I have exceeded that because I’m currently writing my sixth saga, the third in The West End Girls series, but I would still like to walk into shops and see my books on the shelves. Having said that I love being with my editor and publisher so I have no complaints.

What have you planned that you are really excited about?

My first book, The Foyles Bookshop Girls, was born from a Victorian novel I wrote, which I love. Agents and publishers all said they liked it but at that time the period didn’t sell well. A friend gave me some good advice, which I took. It resulted in moving the family forward to the beginning of World War One. They are all related to my main character in The Foyles Bookshop Girls so I’m now thinking of giving it a good edit and maybe self publishing it. It’s exciting and a little bit scary as I’ve never done it before but I have nothing to lose by trying.

That’s sounds like an exciting challenge. 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?

Being raised in the army I have travelled a lot in my life and spent many years living abroad but one of my lasting memories is going on the Queen Mary 2, with my late husband, to the Caribbean. We were on a local boat when we witnessed dolphins swimming alongside it. I got quite emotional seeing them in their natural habitat. 

I don’t really have a place I’d love to visit above others but what I have discovered is that there are so many beautiful places in Britain that I’ve yet to see. I feel that I haven’t really given my own country the attention it deserves so that’s my plan going forward.

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It’s the right time to do it. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

My father was in the army and I was born in Cyprus. I’m British because I was born in a British Military Hospital, but as a child I stopped telling people where I was born because I used to get called all kinds of names. I suspect it would be labeled as racism these days but I didn’t know about such things back then. My late husband told everyone and I used to tell him off, but he taught me to be proud and not hide away.

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’?

Gosh, this is a difficult question. I have so many favourite authors, in different genres. I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson, there was something about it that touched me. Being a hopeless romantic I would also recommend P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Aherne, I cried buckets when I read that. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult is another one. I could just go on and on, I haven’t even mentioned any saga authors that I love to read. All of the books I have mentioned have been made into films or a television series, and while they have been enjoyable, they were nowhere near as good as the books.

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‘All the stuff in the papers was lies.
We were never The Ice Cream Girls’

Serena and Poppy were teenagers when they were branded as the Ice Cream Girls.

When they were accused of murder, one of them was sent to prison while the other was set free.

Now, 20 years later, one of them is doing all she can to clear her name and the other is frantically trying to keep her secrets.

Which Ice Cream Girl is desperate enough to kill to get what she wants?

Fabulous books. I hated what they did to My Sister’s Keeper in the movie, the changes they made were a travesty! P.S. I Love You was better, largely due to the presence of Gerard Butler! (Gratuitous picture coming up, brace yourselves!)

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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?

When I drink I always get the munchies so eating is always in order at the end of the night, but also first thing in the morning to soak up all the alcohol. I also drink lots of water to keep away the pounding head in the morning.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

To be lazy, maybe relax, have laughs and chats with my family or read a book with a glass of Pimms.

Perfect. thank you for chatting to me this evening, Elaine, it was just what I needed to wind down at the end of this week.

Elaine’s latest book, The West End Girls was published in June in ebook format, and you can buy a copy here.

West End Girls

1914. 

Growing up on a farm in the country, Annie Cradwell has always dreamt of singing on stage. So when she hears her friend Joyce has a room to spare in London, she sets off with best friend Rose for an adventure beyond anything they could have imagined. 

In London, Annie and Rose stumble into jobs at the Lyceum Theatre. Being a dresser to capricious star Kitty Smythe wasn’t exactly what Annie had in mind. But then the musical director, Matthew Harris, offers her singing lessons. And Annie starts to wonder – could this be her chance? Or is it all too good to be true? 

With the threat of war in the air, everything is uncertain. Is there a place for hopes and dreams when so much is at stake? 

Annie, Rose and Joyce are three girls with very different dreams – but the same great friendship.

Elaine Roberts had a dream to write for a living. She completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way again until she picked it up again in 2010. She joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published. Elaine is very proud of The Foyles Bookshop Girls saga trilogy, which her late husband encouraged her to write. She, and her extended family, live in and around Dartford, Kent and her home is always busy with children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting.

You can find out more about Elaine and her books via her website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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