I’m delighted to be joined by Elaine Everest today as part of the blogtour to celebrate the recent publication of Wedding Bells at Woolworths. Elaine is sharing a very entertaining #TenThings she’d like her readers to know about her and her writing.
1. Be in my own book!
I was born Christmas 1953 twenty minutes before Christmas Day at the Hainault maternity home, Erith, Kent. With the Woolworths series being set in the same town, and most likely having a book set in the year of our Queen’s coronation, there is a big chance I could appear in my own book. Several characters have given birth at the Hainault including Sarah Gilbert whose baby, Buster, was blown out of the nursery during an air raid. This is based on a true event. The nick name for ‘baby Gilbert’ was my own dad’s nick name given to him by his family as when a child he liked to box and also did this in the army just after WW2.
2. Gone to the dogs!
We’ve owned, bred, exhibited and played a part in the dog world. We purchased our first dog at the end of our honeymoon. He cost one pound from a pet rescue. A year later our second dog came along. Holly was an Old English Sheepdog from a very good breeder. We started to exhibit Holly and were bitten by the show bug and in 1976 had our first litter of puppies. The love of that breed has stayed with us for many wonderful years. The friends and memories we’ve made will stay with us forever. We’ve also owned Polish Lowland Sheepdogs and at the moment have Henry, who came to us from a French breeder seven years ago.
My experience and love of the dog world led to me specialising in the dog world while working as a freelance writer and journalist before I wrote my first novels.
3. I’ll be back!
Apart from a day trip to France with the junior school my only overseas trip in my teenage years during the late sixties was to Switzerland with my secondary school when I was fifteen. We stayed in Wilderswil, near Interlaken and I fell in love with the country. On the train journey home I vowed that one day I would return. It took forty years! My husband asked what I’d like for my 65th and I suggested a train trip back to Switzerland. Because of our commitment to our dogs we never travelled overseas for holidays – we were always at dog shows and had too many dogs at home to leave although I visited dog shows on the continent – but that trip in August 2019 was wonderful. So much so that we booked to visit another part of the country this year. Well, we all know what has happened to holiday plans for 2020, so perhaps next year…
4. Ancient machines!
I never went to university. It didn’t happen where I went to school. Instead I studied hard for a clutch of O and A levels and sent myself to college to study accountancy and ‘business machines’ as they were called at the time. The course focused on enabling us to enter the business world being able to run all forms of accountancy procedures – manual and mechanical. The main diploma course was to be proficient as a Comptometer Operator. This course meant we hand to be able to add at speed and also calculate all forms of measurements mechanically with just our fingers on a keyboard. There was no computer! The pass mark for the calculations part was 95% and the speed adding trust 100%. As I moved into the business world in 1971 these machines started to become obsolete. However, I was able to work in other accountancy rolls due to the very good course. It put me years ahead of others school leavers of my age. This is why I tell all youngsters to focus on their future working life when picking courses after leaving school rather than believe university is the way forward.
I once came face to face with an East End gangster! It was quite surreal as he sauntered into an office where I was temping demanding to see the boss. He wore a black Crombie coat that almost touched the floor and had two henchmen standing behind him. I had a fit of the giggles to see everyone bowing and scraping to him. That short few minutes has stayed with me for many years and comes in handy when I need to write something about a criminal!
6. Write about what you know!
My sagas are set in the town of Erith in North West Kent where I was born. In fact, Ruby’s house in the Woolworth series is the same house I lived in for the first twenty years of my married life. Not many authors can say that!
7. Fit for a dog!
Because my life was heavily involved in the dog world, apart from writing articles for canine publications I also owned my own bespoke dog coat business. There was a time in the 1990s that if you spotted a dog on TV going into Crufts it would have been wearing one of my brightly coloured raincoats!
I used to love to knit and with my knowledge of accounting machines it was no wonder I ended up with a knitting machine during the seventies. A friend asked if I’d like to help out her out by knitting lace suits for a well know posh London store. So, after work each night I’d be set up in front of the TV knitting away. One evening while whizzing away on the machine I spotted a news presenter wearing one of the suits we made!
Another little business enterprise we ran for a while was supplying chocolate fountains to weddings. Our star machine stood seven feet high and took an hour to melt the chocolate. Our main problem was drunk guests thinking they could dive into it like Dawn French in the Vicar of Dibley.
10. Sticky Fingers!
Talking of chocolate, I found myself in a sticky situation whilst being interviewed at Wogan House for one of my books. Settled in a little booth where I would undertake a few interviews at set times I found I had time for a snack. I pulled out as Kit Kat from my bag and had just unwrapped it when the next interviewer came online early. It was live and with nowhere to put the KitKat it melted in my hand while I chatted about my book. Come a short break for the travel news I was frantically licking melted chocolate from my fingers while hunting for a tissue. I’m sure listeners must have heard my frantic heart beats while I grappled with my sticky fingers!
Wedding Bells for Woolworths by Elaine Everest is out now, published by Pan Macmillan, priced £6.99 as paperback original and eBook. Please support a local independent bookshop to order your copy if possible. Or you will find buying options for various retailers on the Pan Macmillan website here: Wedding Bells for Woolworths
From the back of the book
July 1947. Britain is still gripped by rationing, even as the excitement of Princess Elizabeth’s engagement sweeps the nation. In the Woolworths’ canteen, Freda is still dreaming of meeting her own Prince Charming. So far she’s been unlucky in love. When she has an accident on her motorbike, knocking a cyclist off his bicycle, it seems bad luck is still following her around. Anthony is not only a fellow Woolworths employee but was an Olympic hopeful. Will his injured leg heal in time for him to compete? Can he ever forgive Freda?
Sarah’s idyllic family life is under threat with worries about her husband, Alan. Does he still love her?
The friends must rally round to face some of the toughest challenges of their lives together. And although they experience loss, hardship and shocks along the way, love is on the horizon for the Woolworths girls . . .
Wedding Bells for Woolworths is the fifth instalment in Elaine Everest’s much-loved Woolworths series.