Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Accidental Writer

I was delighted to be invited to give a talk to a local group last week. It wasn’t a writers’ group and for me that made it all the more enjoyable. As far as I am aware only one of the twenty-two had attempted creative writing but they were really interested and asked me lots of questions. What made it so nice for me was the chance to share my journey from where I began as ‘The Accidental Writer’  to publication. It’s so easy to lose sight of the overall picture when focused on what’s happening in the now. So what did I tell these lovely ladies?

Can't wait to add
Escape to the Cotswolds
In the beginning…It was a time when I was looking for a new challenge. The ten week creative writing course I enrolled in might have been chosen from the list with a pin. In fact, though I don’t remember, that could easily be what happened. It turned my life around. It’s a worse addiction than wine or chocolate. It seemed I couldn’t leave it alone, and I still can't.  For a while I belonged to a writing group which was incredibly enjoyable but I had ambition to improve so I joined a creative writing school, the Write Place in Dartford, which I still attend. In time I had a short story accepted by a magazine in Norway. You can imagine how excited I was. In the same year another of my stories was accepted by The People’s Friend. And for a while this was my writing life. But later, after more than thirty published short stories, I wanted to move on. It was time to attempt a novel. 

Success came with the publication of two books within seven weeks of each other and the high was such that I can’t even begin to describe how I felt. Now I am awaiting the forthcoming publication of my third  on 21st June. Escape to the Cotswolds is a contemporary romance in a beautiful setting. As yet I don’t have a cover photo or a link to Amazon. Not long to go now though. As soon as my lovely editor, Charlotte Mursell, at HQ Digital lets me know, I will be sharing with you. You can be sure of that! What I can give you now is a little taster:

Taking her courage in both hands, Holly leaves London and her cheating husband to start anew in the peaceful Cotswold village of Cuffingham. A talented artist, she opens a small gallery and life seems good except for the intrusion on her peace of the local vet, Adam Whitney. Gorgeous or what! And then she adopts an adorable Bordie Collie puppy. Will Tubs bring them together or will their inauspicious start only serve to drive them further apart?

Not a Border Collie
but a much loved/much missed companion

Well, I love dogs and I love The Cotswolds and as I wrote him I fell in love with Adam as well, but don't tell Holly or my husband. Will Holly and Adam ever get together? I leave it to you to guess. In the meantime, as I wait for further news, I hope you’ll be at my side as events unfold. Watch this space!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Author Interview: Elaine Everest

My guest today is Elaine Everest. With publication of her new saga, The Butlins Girls, around the corner, I just had to ask her a few questions.

Thank you so much for welcoming me to your blog, Natalie. I can’t wait for Thursday and publication day.

You join me just days before publication of The Butlins Girls. Readers of your Sunday Times bestseller, The Woolworths Girls, will be eagerly awaiting another dose of nostalgia. For some it may be a trip down memory lane, but you aren’t old enough to have lived in the period you write about, yet your research and attention to detail are impeccable. How do you do it?
I was fortunate to have been born in the fifties when times hadn’t changed that much. I lived in a town which not only had a lot of history but also still has many people who love to talk about ‘the good old days’. My family loved to chat about what happened (and when) so I grew up listening to stories of the war years. The next step was to read about those times in books – who doesn’t love reading a book?

Did you pick the era or did it choose you? In spite of the hardship of those post-war years, it seems a much kinder and gentler age than the one we live in now.
Like many writers I’ve dabbled with other genres. I have a modern romcom collecting dust but although never picked up by a publisher it did help me become shortlisted in The Harry Bowling Prize. I’d been a fan of Harry’s for years as he wrote about the area where my Aunt Doll and Uncle Geoff had their pub and his writing resonated with me. Somewhere inside me there has always been that interest in times gone by. So, to answer your question I’d say that history and sagas picked me.

Can your readers look forward to more of the same? What else do you have in the pipeline?
I’m thrilled to say that readers loved The Woolworths Girls so much I’ll be returning to Woolies later this year. Old friends and new faces - it was a joy to write. Then in 2018…

You allude to your family’s history in the world of the travelling fairground. What stories you must have to tell. Perhaps a future novel?
My love of the fairground is a link to my maternal family and my mum who died when I was seventeen. She told us of the hard life she had as a child and the bullying because she was so different to fellow school children – that’s when she got to attend school due to travelling with the fair. She made us value education and aimed to having good jobs once we had our exams. The fair closed down after WW2 so I never experienced the fun of the fair. My granddad did still own the ground and some of the old-fashioned caravans, which I remember fondly. Brightly polished lamps, china, a fierce parrot that hated kids! It’s all there locked in my memory ready to use in stories. Oh, and the family link to Billy Butlin…

In addition to writing novels, short stories and articles, you also run a creative writing school The Write Place in Dartford, as well as being in charge of social media for the Romantic Novelists’ Association. How do you fit it all in?
It’s a case of making sure I do fit it all in and all part of being a full time writer. I often tell new writers that if they wish to earn a living and be thought of seriously as a writer they need to do more than write a novel. We have to learn our craft and that can take years. Short stories help us create a piece of fiction with a beginning a middle and an end – just like a novel but not quite as long. I love the time I spent writing more short fiction. I could think of an idea and write it in one day. My record from having an idea to making a sale is 36 hours. Feature writing pays well and authors have to pay the mortgage and eat! Both fiction and features helped me build relationships with editors whilst learning the craft of writing novels. Teaching classes for Kent Adult Education Services in Dartford and Gravesend came about after I won the BBC Radio Kent short Story Writer of the Year competition in 2003 and was invited to run a few classes. I later moved on to run my own classes and workshops as I preferred to make my own decisions. Being part of the RNA committee is an honour as I get to meet so many authors and also watch as new writers progress with their career – they have great parties too!

Many of your readers will know of your love of and association with the dog world. In the past you’ve written non-fiction books on the subject. Is there any genre, fiction or non-fiction, you would like to turn your hand to in the future?
I could talk for hours about dogs and the show world! I’m honoured to have been part of a world where people breed sound healthy dogs and do their best to promote new owners. I’ve sat on a few breed committees and done my bit to keep the positive side of our breeds alive. Even though I’m not quite as active in the show world as I used to be I’m still called upon to broadcast about dogs – usually when something nasty happens. It is down to us to wave the flag for responsible breeding which means closing down puppy farms and not promoting designer dogs.

As a personal friend, I know how wholeheartedly you throw yourself into everything you do. Outside of the writing world, is there an unfulfilled ambition?
Are you giving me three wishes? To be honest I’m living the dream. I have a fabulous literary agent in Caroline Sheldon and I’m with a wonderful publisher, Pan Macmillan. So, outside of the writing world… Hmm I love Cornwall and would really like to move there but it would have to be a very large house so I can run workshops and writing retreats. I can be found most days on Rightmove dreaming over houses in the two million pound bracket. I suppose I’d better write faster!

Twitter: @elaineeverest

Thank you for such interesting questions. Xx

I’m delighted, as I’m sure your readers will be, to hear that Woolies will be returning later in the year. In the meantime, very best wishes for The Butlins Girls. I may just have to book a holiday