Sunday 13 December 2020

And When It Comes It Brings Good Cheer

'And slowly answer'd Arthur from the barge: "The old order changeth, yielding place to new' 

This quote from Tennyson's Morte d'Arthur is for me like a ghost from Christmas past. The very long ago past when I could spew out massive chunks from this work and still some remain with me. Well, the old order has certainly changed beyond recognition, hasn't it? Here's another (the opening) 

'So all day long the noise of battle roll'd 
Among the mountains by the winter sea' 

And it has been a battle, hasn't it, which sadly so many people have lost. Even a year ago no-one could have imagined how our world would change in such a short space of time. I put this here not to dwell on past struggles but hopefully to shine a light on the future - hence the title of this post. Have you noticed how good people can be in the face of adversity? How much of themselves some people give? Well I have and that is what I'll be taking with me into 2021. I'll give only one example for they are far too numerous to mention, but will any of us forget Captain Tom Moore who raised in excess of £33m for the NHS. His Just Giving page is still open if you want to add to that sum. Captain Tom's Walk
Captain Tom Moore courtesy of Just Giving
Sadly, due to Covid 19, the anticipated publication by Sapere Books of my four Regency romantic novels has been delayed and I hope the first, The Reluctant Bride, will be with you in the spring. Since the cover is ready to go and I love it so much, here is what it will look like. Isn't it fabulous!

In the meantime, I’ve written a tale to celebrate the season. Christmas at The Grange, available on Amazon, is an uplifting short story set in 1816, I hope it will bring you some cheer. 

And so I return to the title of this piece. Whatever your persuasion, I wish every one of you a very Happy Christmas and hope it brings you all the good cheer you could wish for. Here’s to a better 2021


Until the next time 

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Monday 12 October 2020

Chatting with Elaine Everest – Time for Tea

Today it’s my great pleasure to welcome Elaine Everest to the blog once more.

Well here we are again, Elaine, chatting about another new book, this time Christmas with the Teashop Girls. So, with your builder’s tea and my rather weaker version, let’s begin.

Thank you for having me, Natalie. Any chance of a digestive biscuit with my mug of builder’s tea? Certainly, but if you’re going to dunk let me know so I can turn away.

In Christmas with the Teashop Girls, no less than with all your previous books, you take us back to a period in our history in which you are so obviously immersed that you live and breathe it. Bearing in mind that you weren’t even born then, can you talk us through the process that has given you such a deep understanding of east Kent in the Second World War years?

I rely heavily on my own memories of the late fifties and sixties and those of friends and family who have told me about life in the forties. I’m a Kent girl through and through. If I was a stick of seaside rock, I’d have ‘Kentish Maid’ running through me! Born and bred in North West Kent many of our early holidays were spent in Ramsgate and, while there, Mum would arrange for us to take coach trips out into the countryside. We’d journey down by coach or train and I still have vivid images in my mind of passing farms and hop fields until we spotted that first glimpse of the sea. I’m still the same now, but sadly many farms and hop fields have vanished to be replaced by housing and industrial estates – and lorries!

Non-fiction books, documentaries, postcards, photographs, newspaper archives, films, museums, and anything remotely related to my favourite era and I’m back there in an instant. As I write this it is Saturday afternoon and I’m waiting for the film ‘Genevieve’ to begin on the Talking Pictures channel. Yes, it is set in the fifties, but much is the same as the forties and I can sigh over Kenneth More…

If it comes to sighing over Kenneth More I’ll join you. And that first glimpse of the sea is still wondrous, isn’t it? Staying on the subject of research, you move some of your characters to London for part of the story. Did this aspect require a different approach? What ‘tools’ did you use?

My characters often travel to London in my Woolworths series. In the Teashops books London is important as it is the home of Rose’s future in laws; she is there the day the London Blitz starts. I was born and brought up in Erith, on the south bank of the Thames and very close to the docks as the river winds its way to London. Dad worked for Erith Oil and Cake Mills nearby and much of the work was manual and included unloading ships at their own jetty. This was long before he moved up the promotion ladder. He would take me to the river and point out foreign ships and also tell me about those that docked at BOCM. When it came to write those scenes, I could see the detail in my mind’s eye. I would also go to my library of over a hundred non-fiction research books and also watch documentaries on London dockland and the Blitz. Anyone wishing to write sagas needs to know their area well – as well as its history. I find that many books where the author has just made up an area, or simply picked a setting without knowing it well can stand out a mile as they don’t hold a warmth for the area.

Your locations – Sea View, Lyons Tea Shop (Margate), Lyons Tea Shop (Ramsgate), the Ramsgate Tunnels – fact or fiction?

Mainly FACT! Both the teashop in Margate and the one in Ramsgate did exist but now sadly long gone.

Do you recall that during one of our writing retreats we tracked down the old sign to the Margate teashop in a back street of Margate? Oh yes, I remember that! The terrace overlooking the sea is part of a hotel. Nothing remains of the Ramsgate teashop and the building is now part of a chain of pubs. I did stand on the pavement in front of the building to get a feel for the street and look at the view down to the harbour so I am aware of what my girls could see.

The Ramsgate Tunnels are very real and still exist. They saved the lives of thousands of locals during WW2 when they were used as air raid shelters. It is said that every local was no more than ten minutes

Courtesy of Ramsgate Tunnels Museum

from an entrance. Today we are able to visit the tunnels and take part in a guided tour and hear the stories of the war years. I’d recommend every person visit at least once. There is also a 1940s cafĂ© for anyone needing a cuppa and slice of cake.
Sea View is my invention although is you stroll up Madeira Walk there is a hotel at the top of the road that I adopted as Flora’s guest house. These days it is a hotel and restaurant. I wonder if they realise …?

It isn’t just a sense of place. Your characters are central to your plot and we come to feel we know them personally. You have a large cast. Where do you draw them from?

I start with my main characters and ask myself what kinds of family and friends she would have. I need to get under the skin of my characters to see what makes them tick; this shows me what kind of person they would not like – and that’s when my ‘baddies’ appear. As each book in a series comes along, I won’t drop a character from a previous story as in real life this does not happen. I’m fortunate that my publisher gives me a free hand with my stories and doesn’t ask for a different person to take the main stage in each book. My stories wouldn’t work like that as every character is important and my readers would soon complain. I value my readers and their input will always be important to me.

It seems appropriate that we’re drinking tea while discussing the famous Lyons Tea Shops and Corner Houses. With Butlins, Woolworths and Lyons you have picked iconic settings for your fabulous stories. Can we expect more of the same or do you have another in mind?

Any chance of a second cup? Good idea.

My first series was never meant to feature an iconic workplace as it was just where the girls worked. Come to that it wasn’t supposed to be a series! However, such is the heartfelt nostalgia that I continued with another book and a series was born. By the time The Woolworths Girls was published I’d already written The Butlins Girls with the setting ideas mainly coming from my childhood holiday to Warners Holiday Camps and also my maternal grandparents’ links to Billy Butlin’s fairgrounds. The Teashop Girls series stemmed from my fond thoughts of time spent in Ramsgate and Margate and also visiting Lyons Corner houses during the 1960s. It was so funny when The Bookseller labelled me ‘The Queen of the Workplace Saga’ as I’d not given any thought to my settings. These days I seem to have started a new bandwagon with publishers and authors jumping on board a new and popular sub-genre. Some of their books work and some don’t.

Personally, I love a prologue. What makes you use this particular device?

Books always need to start by drawing a reader in on the first page – as I often tell my students! Sagas often don’t as they have gentler starts in the first few pages. That’s why I feel they need a prologue. I like to write a prologue in order for the reader to want more and then read on. Often it is a scene from later in the book that does not give away any spoilers but starts the reader wondering…

My next book, A Mother Forever does not have a prologue but does have an epilogue. It suits the story, plus the first pages starts with more of a bang.

2020 has been a very difficult year, almost as if we are also living in a war zone. How have you coped?

Gosh hasn’t it been a year and a half? I like to think I have coped. If anything, I’ve had more time to write and also to consider my future as an author. There are new genres I’d like to try and ‘things’ I’d like to change. I miss going out to meet readers and chat about books. 

I’ve also missed going away to the coast, and also seeing friends and running my classes. Thank goodness we have a very good Facebook page where students attend online classes, so successes continue. I do know that come the end of the war on this virus I’ll be very choosy about where I go - and possibly never venture into London again. I value life more and get very angry at people who don’t follow guidelines to help stop this horrible virus in its tracks.
I do know I’ll never get off my soap box though!

Finally, if you hadn’t been an author (No, you’re not allowed to stop) what other profession might you have chosen?

A very interesting question!

At different stages of my life there have been career options. As a teenager my mum suggested working for Warner’s Holiday Camp as a Green Coat. I loved the idea of entertaining and had always attended dance classes since the age of three. Sadly, school exams and boyfriends meant I never gave that career choice another thought.

At the age of sixteen with a bright future ahead of me I did consider teaching. I attended open days at teacher training colleges and spoke to the right people about this. It would have meant staying on at school for a sixth year to gain my A-levels, but my parents could not afford to support me, even though by then like all girls of my age I’d taken on a Saturday and holiday job to save. They would not consider a grant as that was taking charity and they were proud people. Considering the options and talking to a neighbour who had a high-flying job in London I decided to look into business courses at Erith College of Technology. The course I followed back in 1970/71 was called ‘Business Machines and Commerce’ and certainly covered all aspects of what a young woman needed to find a great job. I left with more qualifications than I’d ever have needed to attend teacher training college and doubled up on ‘O’ levels for English subjects due to the college using a different exam board and gained an A level in the subject as well. Mum was pleased as by the time my exam results came through and I’d secured that first job she was seriously ill and passed away a couple of months later.
I wish she’d lived to see me climb the career ladder to work  in management then succeed with my writing. She’d have chuckled to see me gain the required teaching certificate to teach as well – and to run my own writing school. I like to think she knows. To use an old expression, you’ve done her proud.

Thank you so much for your interesting questions, Natalie, and taking part in my blog tour.

Elaine xx

It’s always a pleasure, Elaine. I look forward to the next time

Natalie xx



The friends return in a moving story of love, bravery and hope set in 1940 – a guaranteed winter warmer full of festive spirit. Bestseller Elaine Everest is the author of the much-loved Woolworths Girls saga series.

It’s 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 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 fiancĂ© Captain Ben Hargreaves and she’s busy planning their Christmas Eve wedding. But she must also plan to take two new stepdaughters into her life and get on the right side of her wealthy mother-in-law, Lady Diana. Is Rose ready to become a mother?

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 she’s hiding something… As the wedding draws near, the bombings intensify, putting everything and everyone Rose loves in danger. Only one thing is for sure: it will be a Christmas she never forgets . . .


Elaine Everest is from North West Kent and she grew up listening to stories of the war years in her home town of Erith, which features in her bestselling Woolworths Girls series. A former journalist, and author of nonfiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the women's magazine market. When she isn't writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael and sheepdog Henry. You can find out more about Elaine on Twitter @ElaineEverest or Facebook /elaine.everest

Elaine Everest lives in Kent is available for interviews and to write features.

The Teashop Girls is published by Pan Macmillan on 15th October price £7.99 as paperback original.



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Tuesday 8 September 2020

What a So and So

Language evolves all the time and the rules (there are rules) change. I know that. I accept that. But, being a bit long in the tooth, it took me many years to do so and even more to implement some of those changes into my writing. You will no doubt have observed that I began the previous sentence with the word ‘but’. But is a conjunction. Its purpose is to connect ideas that contrast. For example:

I like my coffee black but she likes hers with milk.

Had I put…I accept that but, being a bit long in the tooth etc…there would be no controversy. However it seems to me that it carries more weight this way. And, while I’m talking about breaking old rules, what is more important? Adhering to convention or using the best way to make your point? My poor English teacher would turn in her grave. Not only have I begun one sentence with But, but I began another with And.

A fairly recent innovation in the spoken word, not so much yet in the written, is the use of the word So at the beginning of speech, a propos of absolutely nothing at all, with not the remotest connection to what is to follow or anything that came before. Now this one really irritates me – I’m sorry if you’re a convert but I’m not.

Imagine my dismay then when, in the middle of the night, one of those times when a jumble of thoughts comes flooding in when you’d far rather be asleep, I found myself thinking…So, I wonder how my day will pan out tomorrow? Why the So? What’s the matter with just I wonder? And then I giggled. Silently. I didn’t want to wake my husband. Well, (a similar misuse I fear) was that so very bad? It isn’t the best example but it made me (metaphorically) sit up and think.

I’ve been known, when editing my work, to alter the text because it feels old-fashioned and stilted. I know I write historical fiction but I still want it to flow. Does the grammar really matter when what we’re trying to do is entertain? Old habits die hard but newly-acquired ones aren’t always so bad. (acceptable use of both but and so in that sentence)

And (see, I’ve done it again) don’t even get me started on split infinitives. I’m prepared to be shot down in flames. What do you think?


Until next time


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Sunday 19 July 2020

Jane Marple or Hercule Poirot?

In the light of my much-stated love of the Regency and my frequent assertion that it’s my go to genre, it occurred to me that I might have given the impression I rarely read or watch anything else. Not so. Like many, I love a good thriller though I can’t read anything containing horror as I’m left with bad dreams. A pity, because there’s some superb writing which I have to avoid for this reason.

Lockdown has given us the opportunity to re-watch many old favourites, some of which are rather dated but still very watchable. I’m pretty much talking cosy-crime here though you may have your own preferences of course. There are many series which fit the description ‘cosy crime’ and I won’t list them all, even if I could remember them.

Agatha Christie

So I got to thinking about Agatha Christie. Prolific, hugely readable, though I haven’t for years. I wonder what happened to my collection? And a joy on the small screen. But…Miss Marple or Poirot? For me there is only one Miss Marple, Joan Hickson epitomising our aged but needle-sharp sleuth. And David Suchet made the role of Hercule his own. It has left me unable or at least unwilling to watch any other actor in those roles because to me they ARE Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot.

As I’m writing this, I realise how drawn I am to this particular genre when it’s portrayed on the television. How many series, and I think they tend to be series, are produced for our delectation. Do you like the modern ones or do you go back to the tried and trusted? Or do you watch them all?

Back to the header of this piece then. For you, is it Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot?

I’m off now to see if I can find any Agatha Christie hidden away anywhere. See you next time.


A sad footnote:
Also by Agatha Christie, though featuring neither Miss Marple nor Poirot, The Mousetrap, the world's longest running play, opened in London's West End in 1952 and ran continuously until March 2020 when stage performances had to be discontinued due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Let's hope it comes back soon

Thursday 18 June 2020

Chatting with Francesca Capaldi

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Francesca Capaldi to the blog for tea and a chat about her recently published saga, Heartbreak in the Valleys

Hello Natalie, and thank you for inviting me.
The biscuits are on that plate, Francesca, so help yourself and let’s begin.

What a mixed heritage you have. Your parents came from vastly different backgrounds. With Heartbreak in the Valleys you’ve obviously been pulled towards your mother’s homeland. I’m aware you grew up on the south coast of England so tell us, what is it about Wales that tugs at your heartstrings?
Wales is such a breathtakingly beautiful place. I've been visiting it since I was six years old, when we had cousins living in Merthyr Tydfil. They used to drive us through the sweeping valleys and around the verdant mountains, to visit the beauty spots. Although my mother was only eleven when she left, her heart always belonged to Wales, and she passed that affection for it onto me.

Your father was Italian. Have you had much opportunity in your own lifetime to return to his roots? Do you know what his childhood was like?
Although I've been to Italy a few times, I've never visited Picinisco in Lazio, where he came from. It was a place of mountains. There has been a family trip planned there for years, but we haven't quite got there yet. I know he was brought up between two farms, as both sides of his family owned them. One, or maybe both, had sheep. At least one of them had a vineyard and made their own wine. On one occasion, my dad was playing in the building where they were making wine and ended up drunk from the fumes. He talked of donkeys (which he was very fond of) and strawberries as large as apples. It sounded like a happy, carefree childhood, though his father was killed in World War 1 when he was only ten months old, so his mother was a widow.

Your readers will be delighted to know that there is a Book 2 in the series. Will Wales remain the focus of your writing after that, do you think, or will you change the setting and/or the time period, and will it be another saga?
I'm hoping to write another in the series, but that hasn't been decided yet. I have part of a World War 1 saga written that is set on the Sussex coast, which could be another series. There are several contemporary novels that I've written, one of which is set in West Wales, so at the moment I could go several ways.

As well as your sagas, you’ve also written several pocket novels and a great number of short stories. With such a varied output, do you have a favourite? Do you like the quick fix or do you prefer to be in it for the long haul?

Ooh, that's an interesting question. I'm not sure I have a favourite, though I do like to alternate novel writing with shorter pieces. Short stories require a different skill and it's good to keep my hand in, though I don’t write as many of them now as I'd like to.

Impossible to write a saga without doing a considerable amount of research. Is this something you enjoy or a chore that has to be done?
Not a chore at all – I love it! I particularly love primary record sources, like the census and newspapers from the time period. If anything, I love it too much as I could look through them all day and not get a word written!

And now, a little bit about Francesca Capaldi please. When you’re not writing, and when we’re not all stuck in lockdown, what best do you like to do?
I love being out visiting places, especially with friends and family. I enjoy a coffee out at the garden centre, or a visit to a National Trust property. I like going to the theatre. What I'm particularly missing at the moment are days out with the family, visiting places like museums or country parks, or simply having a meal. And I love having the grandchildren to stay, as we always have lots of fun.

Thank you for your questions, Natalie. 
It’s been a pleasure, Francesca. Thank you for joining me.

About Heartbreak in the Valley
The world was crumbling, but her love stayed strong

November 1915. For young housemaid, Anwen Rhys, life is hard in the Welsh mining village of Dorcalon, deep in the Rhymney Valley. She cares for her ill mother and beloved younger sister Sara, all while shielding them from her father's drunken, violent temper. Anwen comforts herself with her love for childhood sweetheart, Idris Hughes, away fighting in the Great War. 

Yet when Idris returns, he is a changed man; no longer the innocent boy she loved, he is harder, more distant, quickly breaking off their engagement. And when tragedy once again strikes her family, Anwen's heart is completely broken.

But when an explosion at the pit brings unimaginable heartache to Dorcalon, Anwen and Idris put their feelings aside to unite their mining community.

In the midst of despair, can Anwen find hope again? And will she ever find the happiness she deserves?

Book Links

About the Author
Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and three pocket novels later, she's now explored her mother's ancestral history for a novel set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian

Social Media
Twitter: @FCapaldiBurgess
Instagram: Francesca.Capaldi.Burgess

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Chatting with Ros Rendle

I'm delighted to welcome Ros today for tea and a chat, and to congratulate her on the publication of her latest book, Bird in the Hand
I love a chat about books at any time, and if there's tea involved too, then even better. Thank you for the invitation.

It seems to me that the beautiful cover of Bird in the Hand conceals a novel filled with a multitude of emotions, which begs the question, is your writing character or plot driven? Do you find yourself living in Charmian's skin? Does she take you on her journey or do you take her?
Many of my books have started with the main character, who I picture in great detail, both physically and emotionally, from the beginning. I could picture Charmian's wild curly hair and brown, long-limbed figure. I knew she was rebellious and restless. Having said that, more recently my books are concept driven. That is to say I have in mind a 'what if'. What if the girl has two people who wish to have a relationship with her but through a particular circumstance she decides to relinquish both? Or...what if the decisions she makes for her partner or are made for her by others case her intense difficulty then...the plot thickens. It's great fun whether it's character, plot or concept. 

You've written several books in different genres. Was that a deliberate choice or was each one a story demanding to be told?
My very first book, soon to be reissued with Sapere Books, demanded to be written. It was the one that released me. We all have those dramas in life at some point and people say to write it down can help. It's not my own story, I must emphasise, but it was useful. Then, each book since has come with its own clamour to be written. The 20th century historical series arose from family history delving and, living in the area of many WW1 battlefields at the time, the research was fascinating. Thus, three sisters and three times of major conflict of the last century were born. My contemporary novels are just fun to write, even though each has a serious social interaction or family drama at its heart. I do quite enjoy the difference in time periods and therefore different types of research.

I see you lived in France for ten years. Was that prior to your retirement and, if so, were you teaching in an English or a French school? Or something entirely different? Can you tell us something of your experiences there?
Both my husband and I took early retirement here, and that's when we went to live in France. He did work for a French builder and I did do some voluntary English teaching in our local primary school there, but really it was great to do very little in terms of work! That's when I took up writing. I had tried in my twenties, but 'life' got in the way. My mum, who was a published author, always encouraged me and I'm sorry she never knew of my more recent success.
We lived in a small village and had a good community of French and English friends. The language was not a problem for me, and my husband took a short course which gave him confidence to have a go. He was able to converse with lots of people using French and gesticulations. Getting into the bureaucracy of a foreign life was sometimes frustrating and often hilarious but people were always helpful. Life was calm but punctuated by parties and outings. We enjoyed it all.

As a head teacher you must have needed to be extremely organised in your working life. Is that a natural trait or an acquired one? Does it follow through to your writing?
Yes, that's very perceptive. My working life had to be highly organised, especially with family and children to sort out. Often I had evening meetings and long days, so I had to think ahead and write lots down. Nothing else is particularly so. Housework definitely got forgotten. I'm not an in-depth planner with my writing. I usually plan each of the first ten chapters but leave the next ten until I get there and so on. I do know at roughly what part major plot points will happen, though, just not the fine detail of how to get there.

Writing is a somewhat sedentary occupation but I notice from your biog that when you're not at your desk you are often indulging in some physically demanding activity. Do you, for instance, ever find a plot running around in your head when you're walking the dogs or is it a complete getaway for you?
I have plots and conversations running through my head all the time. Sometimes I must make myself concentrate on talk going on around me. However, when we're ballroom dancing, I need to focus closely so it's probably just as well to get away from novels for a while. Then an idea or a resolution will ping home when I least expect it, often in the middle of the night. 

It's been a real pleasure chatting with you, Ros. Let's do it again when your next book comes out. In the meantime, I wish you all the luck with Bird in the Hand. 

1970, the height of the sexual revolution and independence for young people. Set in Cornwall, Charmian is worried her future is mapped for her and repressive. She craves that freedom and excitement. That's not quite what she gets.
Bird in the Hand is a story of making decisions for others which reaps heartache. Charmian has two birds and a third on the way. What's a girl to do? Consequences can be tough. We cannot mould our children to fit our own expectations. Sometimes it's better to be the familiar stranger. Charmian and her family have much with which to come to terms but it's ultimately uplifting.
Live, laugh, cry with, and love these characters. Lose yourself in a feel-good holiday read.

Author biog:
Having worked as a head teacher, Ros has been used to writing policy documents, essays and stories to which young children enjoyed listening. Now she has taken up the much greater challenge of writing fiction for adults. She writes both historical sagas and contemporary romance; perfect for lying by a warm summer pool or curling up with on a cosy sofa
Ros is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Historical Novelists' Society and the Society of Authors.

She lived in France for ten years but has moved back to the UK with her husband and dogs. While there, she gained much information which has been of use in her books. They are thoroughly and accurately researched.

Ros enjoys ballroom or Latin dancing, and dog walking across the fields. She has been caught out a couple of times, but she and her husband don’t normally do both at the same moment. She is a committee member of for the Deepings Literary Festival. Two daughters, with their husbands, and four granddaughters live close by, with whom she shares many marvellously fun times.


Friday 1 May 2020

Chatting with Elaine Everest (Again!)

Once again I am delighted to welcome Elaine Everest to chat over a cup of tea/coffee. This time we’re talking about her latest book in the Woolworths series, Wedding Bells for Woolworths.

It lovely to see you again, Elaine and what a wonderful opportunity to catch up with some old friends. And to meet some new ones too. There’s a lot of optimism in this book. Well, just look at the title. But there’s tragedy too. You don’t make it easy for your girls, do you?

Hi, Natalie and thank you for hosting me today. No, I try not to make things too easy for my girls as the books would be quite boring!  This time I’ve looked at their longstanding relationships with each other and started to think what could pull them apart and how would they react? In real life we can all think of a friendship, or marriage that has failed, and how other friends take sides. Amongst the many weddings in the book I had to think how friends who had fallen out would react when pushed together in social situations, or how they would connive to avoid each other.

You’ve introduced a few more characters and they all slip into place quite beautifully. I found Lemuel’s story particularly interesting. You always succeed in weaving historical events seamlessly into your stories. Did he come fully formed?

I loved writing about Lemuel and how he slotted into the Erith community during the mid 1940s. As soon as I decided to introduce a plotline that would introduce a man from Trinidad, I knew how long-standing characters would react. People could be racist – even ‘back then’– and I needed to show how locals distrusted the stranger and turned against him just as many did in real life. It was uncomfortable but had to be done. I confess to pulling back on some of the nasty comments as it upset me. I could see Lemuel’s family featuring in future books as well…

Speaking of historical events, the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip! What a gift to the writer, but how did you contrive to make it part of the story without over-egging it (not that eggs were in such abundant supply at the time)?

Being a very crafty saga author I needed to be able to bring in a few historical events to my book. The last book in which some of ‘the girls’ featured was The Butlins Girls set in 1946, so I needed to work forward. With Princess Elizabeth’s wedding in her handsome Philip in 1947 and then the Austerity Olympics of 1948 those two years were a gift. The girls weren’t likely to receive an invitation so how else could I weave a story around that happy event…?

I must say that the ending took me a little by surprise (no spoilers) but I was pleased to see you left it open for the next book. Please tell me – and the rest of your readers – that there’s going to be a next book.

Oh my! I changed that ending so many times. If I could go back now, I’m sure I’d change the ending. However, in life we have to let go of loved ones at some point, and so it was with this book. I still smile at my original outline when I was supposed to kill off George Caselton in The Woolworths Girls, but couldn’t do it – he broke his leg instead!

And what of Ruby? You had me worried about her there for a while.

Ruby worries me a lot. So many readers love the matriarch of the extended Caselton family, and she is growing older with each book. She reminds me of my paternal grandmother and many others of her generation. They broke the mould with those women!

You’ve obviously been working on other things since you handed your manuscript over to your publishers all those months ago. Can you tell us what you’ve been doing? What’s coming next for Elaine Everest fans?

This book went to my publisher at the beginning of last year so yes, much water has passed under the bridge since then. Christmas with the Teashop Girls is to be published in October and it was a joy to return to Ramsgate and carry on with Rose, Lily, and Katie’s story, and to catch up with the women living at the Sea View guesthouse.
I’ve also just handed in the manuscript for a very special book. I was delighted when my publisher approved the idea and I could go back in time to 1905 to the day that a young Ruby Caselton moved into her new home in Alexandra Road, Erith. Publication will be for Mother’s Day in 2021.
At the moment I’m writing the first chapter of yet another idea which takes me to Biggin Hill during WW2 and that’s as much as I’m saying …

Intriguing! Obviously nothing to do with the Woolworths Girls but I must say I’m glad we’ll be hearing from Ruby again. I bet she was a feisty one in her youth!

Thank you again for inviting me to your blog, Natalie. I can rely on you to ask me some interesting stories

Elaine xx

It’s always a pleasure, Elaine. I look forward to the next time.
Natalie xx

Wedding Bells for Woolworth is the latest feel-good novel in former Woolies girl Elaine Everest's bestselling Woolworths Girls series. It sees the return of her well-loved characters in another heartfelt and gripping story.
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.

Elaine Everest is from North West Kent and she grew up listening to stories of the war years in her home town of Erith, which features in her bestselling Woolworths Girls series. A former journalist, and author of nonfiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the women's magazine market. When she isn't writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael and Polish Lowland Sheepdog Henry. You can find out more about Elaine on Twitter @ElaineEverest or Facebook /elaine.everest

Elaine lives in Kent is available for interviews and to write features.

Wedding Bells for Woolworths by Elaine Everest is out now, published by Pan Macmillan, priced £6.99 as paperback original and eBook


Facebook Author Page:           Elaine Everest Author
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