Chatting with Elaine Everest (again!)

You can’t keep a good writer down and Elaine is with me once again to talk about her latest book in the Woolies series, The Woolworths Saturday Girls

Welcome, Elaine. I’ll just slide the plate of biscuits towards you as I’m trying to cut down. Builders’ tea isn’t it?
Thank you for inviting me to your blog. No biscuits for me as I’m no longer allowed to eat them (sobs). Builders’ tea would be lovely.

I had thought it would be difficult to shift my focus from Sarah, Maisie, and Freda to the next generation, but the Saturday girls won me over in no time. Bessie, Claudette, Clemmie and Dorothy work so well as a group, perhaps because they are all so different. Were they fully formed characters when you began to write or did they develop as you wrote their story?

Thank you for finding the transition from the mothers we know so well to their daughters so easy. I’ve been worried readers wouldn’t accept them after following the ‘older girls’ for so long. ‘I’ve known these four girls since they appeared in earlier books with both sets of sisters having traumatic times in their childhood. They’ve been in the background of every book since then; they may not have played a part in the stories, but I’ve been aware of their presence. It is a delight to finally allow them to have their own book.

Margaret Roberts! What a gift. Something you were aware of, or did you come across her during the course of your research?

Coming from the area I’ve known the story of Margaret Roberts part in our local history. She met Dennis Thatcher in Erith at a dance, in the same venue that’s feature in chapter one. The rest is history!

To be honest, I was dreading that something awful might have happened to Ruby, so I was very pleasantly surprised when not only did she put in an appearance but was as ever the wise matriarch of her family. In my opinion, a Woolworths book wouldn’t be a Woolworths book without Ruby Caselton. Are there any characters you just can’t let go of?

I have to confess that Ruby’s age is beginning to worry me. She reaches the age of seventy in this book. I may just have her receive a card from the Queen on her one hundredth birthday. That would save me from readers complaining if something awful happened to her and she will have a few books to go yet…

Tom Andrews is a real piece of work. How do you get inside the head of your villains – and do you enjoy doing so?

I love a villain. To be honest they come easily to me, and no I don’t mix with villains haha!

For writers it is easy to slip into the head of a ‘baddy’ these days what with social media. I only have to look at local forums on Facebook or read comments under articles in our national newspapers to spot a cocky attitude and someone who swims against the tide of decency, to know they would suit one of my characters.

A lovely nod back to The Butlins Girls (I love that book) and the era of the seaside holiday camp. Where did you spend your own childhood holidays if you don’t mind me asking?

For my family it was seaside guest houses in Ramsgate and the Isle of Wight before Mum discovered Warner’s Holiday camps and we visited them until the summer before she passed away. No overseas holiday for us, but then not many families travelled abroad in the fifties and sixties. Dad spent his conscription in Rhodesia and Mum had ideas for us kids to go on school trips oversees. Her dream was to visit Canada one day, but it never happened. Luckily for me I was able to visit Switzerland with my school when I was fourteen. As you know it is somewhere I now like to visit whenever I can. Hmm perhaps ‘The Woolworths Girls visit Grindelwald?’ it does have a certain ring to it.

Nice also to meet Flora Neville again and to revisit the Sea View Guest House. We expect characters from your earlier books to put in an appearance but including one from The Teashop Girls was a nice surprise. Might we see another book in that series or is it just your love of Ramsgate?

I thought it would be fun to reintroduce Sea View and Flora to one of my stories. Yes, I will return to the Teashop Girls for a third book before too long. Ramsgate played such a big part in WW2 history that it would be remiss of me not to see the girls through to 1945 especially as readers keep asking for an update. I do have an interesting outline for book three…

There’s no doubt that your readers relate to your characters and have their own favourites. I know I do. But what’s coming next? Something completely different or will you be returning to one of your much-loved cast and, if so, which one?

As you know my writing has slowed down in recent months due to a problem with my eyes. I’m now writing again, albeit not spending as much time on the laptop as I would like as I’m obeying my consultant as much as possible. However, there is another book in the pipeline and I’m returning to Woolworths to tell the story of our Betty Billington’s early days. It will be called A Woolworths Girl’s Promise so watch this space!

It’s been lovely talking to you, Elaine, though once again I’ve eaten far too many biscuits. I hope you’ll join me again next time.

Thank you so much, Natalie. Perhaps I will have one of those biscuits after all! xx

ABOUT ELAINE EVEREST:

Elaine Everest is the author of bestselling historical sagas including The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths and The Teashop Girls. She was born and raised in North-West Kent, where her much-loved Woolworths series is set, and worked as a Woolworths Saturday Girl herself in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Elaine has been a freelance writer for 25 years and has written over 100 short stories and serials for the women’s magazine market. She is also the author of a number of popular non-fiction books for dog owners.

When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She now lives in Swanley with her husband, Michael and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry.

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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