I’m delighted to be joined by Elaine Everest today who is answering my Author in The Spotlight questions. I will be reading her latest book, Christmas With the Teashop Girls, nearer the festive season so you can look out for a review then.
Welcome Elaine. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
Hello! I like to think of myself as a jobbing writer. At the moment I write historical sagas set mainly in and around Kent during the first half of the 20th century. When not writing novels, the odd article or short story I am teaching my novel writing students – a talented bunch! I also like to moan a lot on social media!
What inspired you to start writing?
Like most authors I’ve always written, even as a child. I recall short plays written in exercise books with my sister and friends having to play the parts in front of my grandparents. Musicals were also favourites, as well as old time musical hall performances where we got to dress up! I won various writing competition during my secondary school years but hated English classes due various awful teachers. It took a teacher in my final year to find she had a writer with an imagination in her class. But life didn’t encourage seventeen-year olds to seek employment as a writer, so I followed an accounting career. Many years later, after dabbling with words for a while it took the death of my father in 1997 to give me the kick up the backside to do something with my writing.
Tell me about your journey to publication
When I decided to become a published writer back in 1997, I started by writing short stories and articles for magazines. A journalist friend told me never to wite for free, which is something I now advise my students. I thoroughly enjoyed my freelance years, but still attempted a few awful novels, which I thought were marvellous at the time. I’d sold a few stories to magazines, by then specialising in canine journalism, as well as general articles, when I won the ‘BBC Radio Kent Short Story Writer of the Year’ competition, which led to my fiction being broadcast and opened more doors. I was approached to teach creative writing for Kent Adult Education Services which I enjoyed immensely, also obtaining a teaching certificate. I left after five years to run my own writing school, The Write Place. I continued to write abysmal novels although a romcom was a runner up in the Harry Bowling Prize. Around the same time, I discovered The Romantic Novelists’ Association and graduated their New Writers’ Scheme with my first saga. This drew the attention of my now agent, Caroline Sheldon and withing weeks I had a contract to write for Pan Macmillan. The rest, as they say, is history.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
It is the summer of 1940 and Rose Neville, the manageress of a Lyon’s Teashop in Margate, Kent is planning to marry her fiancé Ben. Apart from the war interrupting her love life a stranger appears saying she is Rose’s long-lost half-sister. Rose’s mother run a guest house in nearby Ramsgate and along with a motley crew of residents they step in to help when Rose’s life changes for the worse. Come Christmas Eve it is touch and go whether Rose, or her mum will be alive for Christmas Day. This is the second in the Teashop series.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
When we pitched the story to my publisher, Pan Macmillan, the book was scheduled for autumn publication. It made sense to have a Christmas title and thankfully my editor agreed.
How did you celebrate publication day?
As a rule, I will have a tea party somewhere to celebrate with friends, or perhaps a PR event. By then I’d have had a busy round of library talks, festivals, book signings, radio interviews and a blog tour as well as organising events on my Facebook Author Page and via my blog and website. This all went pear-shaped with my book, Wedding Bells for Woolworths which came out in April. Gradually, every event was cancelled apart from a few radio interviews that were done from home and the wonderful magazine editors who interviews me. Now, with this book we’ve focused on radio, a fabulous blog tour, three short stories in magazines about Lyon’s teashops Nippies and an interview. It has been a hard time for many authors, and I pray that 2021 has some kind of normality and I am able to venture out and meet my loyal readers.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I do. Edits have just finished for the Mothers Day book, A Mother Forever and I’m heading towards deadline with my book for September 2021 set in WW2 Biggin Hill.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
It is very hard to choose as I’ve read so many books during lockdown. They are the perfect escape! Books that have stayed with me are, A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier, Find Them Dead by Peter James (I’m a big fan), and He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly. My Kindle and bookshelves are a mix of historical non-fiction books for my work plus many crime and psychological thrillers. It goes without saying that I read many of my fellow saga author novels and would hate to choose amongst them.
What are you reading just now?
I have My one True North by the lovely Milly Johnson on my bedside table and will be starting it this evening.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
Oh dear, only one? With the time to read a long book it would have to be Gone with the Wind – such a glorious story.
If I was allowed a series, I’d choose all the Dennis Wheatley books, or every novel by Dick Francis – I could take my Kindle and rig up dollar power!
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
Most definitely one of my own. Perhaps I could be cheeky and suggest The Woolworths Girls as it is the start of a long series…
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I love to chat on my Facebook author page: Elaine Everest Author
Website and blog: http://www.elaineeverest.com
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Going right back to my childhood it would have to be Josephine March from Little Women. A tomboy who loved to write summed up my childhood. I’ve adored that book ever since when shopping with my mum in Ramsgate while on holiday in the 1960s I discovered a second-hand copy. Such joy!
Thanks to Megan at ED Public relations for inviting me to be part of the tour. Christmas with the Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest is out now, published by Pan Macmillan, priced £7.99 as paperback original. You can order a copy from the Pan Macmillan website here: Christmas with the Teashop Girls
From the back of the book
It is late 1940 and the war feels closer to home than ever for Rose Neville and her staff at the Lyon’s Teashop in Margate. The worry of rationing hangs overhead as the Nippies do their best to provide a happy smile and a hot cup of tea for their customers. When a heavy bombing raid targets the Kent coastline, Lyon’s is badly hit, throwing the future of the cafe into jeopardy.
The light in Rose’s life is her dashing fiancé Capt. Ben Hargreaves and planning their Christmas Eve wedding. But she must also plan to take two new step-daughters into her life and get on the right side of her wealthy mother-in-law, Lady Diana. Is Rose ready to become a mother so soon?
When Rose’s half-sister Eileen makes contact, it seems that Rose’s dreams of having a sibling are coming true at long last. But her friends begin to suspect that something is not right between Eileen and her husband: just what are they hiding?
As the Christmas Eve wedding draws near, the bombings intensify in Kent and London, putting everything and everyone Rose loves in danger. Only one thing is for sure: it will be a Christmas she never forgets . . .