Chatting with Elaine Everest

It’s lovely to share tea with you again, Elaine, and with a full pot and a plentiful supply of biscuits, let’s head straight on in.

Hello again and thank you for such a warm welcome. A mug of builders and a jammy dodger please.

Insider knowledge informs me that you once bred and judged Old English Sheepdogs. You’ve given us a great insight into the dog world in The Patchwork Girls. Was this always going to be a large part of this book?

Dog have played a big part in my life ever since we purchased our first Old English Sheepdog and entered the show world in the early 1970s. Before I sold my first novel

I’ve always wanted to write more about the dog world, but never thought it would be set in WW2. However, in the days when I edited a breed club magazine, I interviewed a stalwart in the breed about feeding dogs during the war years and that thought stayed with me. While I was planning The Patchwork Girls, I started to think what else would be in the surrounding area and a kennels came to mind. After that the story grew…

I see that Lizzie’s daughter is named Natalie. Naturally that resonated with me, but it also made me think. How do you choose your characters’ names, or do they tell you?

Above anything else the names I use have to be correct for the period I’m writing about. I do like to use familiar names in my books and many of my dogs’ names have popped up from time to time – it does help that they have ‘human’ names. I will also go back into my family history to use the surnames of my ancestors. Caselton, Missons, Neville, Sayers will be familiar to readers.

It’s quite evident you have an extensive knowledge of quilting and other activities involving the use of needle and thread. Research or experience?

I’ve always sewn ever since I was a schoolgirl and made my own clothes. I did make my bridesmaid dresses; many girls did back then. My sewing skills have seen me making bespoke raincoats for show dogs as well as soft toys and rag dolls that were sold at craft shows and in a reproduction furniture shop I owned with my husband. As for patchwork quilts, I only ever made the one, but sadly that was lost in a house fire. Working on The Patchwork Girls has made me decide to attempt another quilt and I hope to start that once the promotion work has finished for the book. At the moment the joy is choosing the pattern I’ll follow along with the fabric. I do know that I’ll not be attempting the ‘double wedding ring’ quilt shown on the cover of The Patchwork Girls.  

The Patchwork Girls doesn’t have a triumvirate in the way your Woolworths and Teashop series do. Helen is a lovely main character with whom we are immediately in sympathy. Will there be another Patchwork Girls to follow? The Patchwork Girls does have the three girls (as is typical in traditional sagas), however they don’t work together as characters do in my previous books. Each of the three, Helen, Effie and Lizzie have their part to play in the novel and each other’s lives, along with the supporting cast. At the moment I don’t know if there will be a second or third book as it depends on readers’ enjoyment of the story and what my publisher has planned for the future. I do have a few plot ideas for future books, but time will tell if they get into print.

Ah, I take your point about three girls.

One of the things I love about your books is the attention to detail. Just little things that are fed into the story here and there. I suspect they don’t in any way reflect the amount of research that has uncovered them. More tea, by the way?

I’d love a top up please and another biscuit. I love the research and of course I uncover much more than will ever appear in a book. However, it gives me a flavour of the setting and characters. I think of this as slipping my feet into a comfortable pair of slippers knowing everything fits and is cosy.

I have to ask…are you planning to return to your previous series?

Yes, in March 2022 The Woolworth Saturday Girls will be published. Set in 1950 we move on with the lives of the much-loved characters from Erith. Later in 2022 there will be another book looking back at the life and an older Woolies character.

It’s lovely to be able to look forward to some old favourites and it’s been lovely chatting to you again, Elaine. Thank you for joining me.

Thank you so much, Natalie and cheers for the cuppa! XX

Links:

Website and blog: www.elaineeverest.com

Facebook author page: Elaine Everest | Facebook

Twitter: @ElaineEverest

Amazon author page: Amazon.co.uk : elaine everest books

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