It is as always a pleasure to welcome Elaine Everest for tea and a chat. Today we’ll be talking about her latest in the fabulous ‘Woolworths Girls’ series. Here we go then.
It’s lovely to see you again, Elaine. You’ve been a very busy lady since we last met. I have to say, I was delighted to read Betty’s backstory and, without giving anything away, she wasn’t at all what I’d expected. What she does have in abundance, what all your female characters have, is grit. How do you go back and formulate a character decades after she (or he) first appeared in one of your books?
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Natalie. It is always a special place to stop as you provide tea and cake!
Between you and me I do worry about going back in time to show more of a character’s past life. What if the lovely readers have a different view about the character before they appeared in my books; I’d hate to disappoint them.
The two characters I have written about so far, Betty Billington and Ruby Caselton are like old friends to me after all this time; I feel as though I know them inside and out. It has been a joy to visit them as young women and steer them towards that time in 1938 when we meet them for the first time. In Betty’s case we knew she’ lost the love of her life during WW1 and I was able to show him in ‘real life’ along with his family.
Something that is always in evidence in your writing is the amount of research you do in preparation. We only see the tip of the iceberg but there’s never any doubt that you have a wealth of information we are not party to. How do you decide what to put in and what to leave out, and how much?
A saga author friend always says how the research and the history is just the wallpaper to our books and I tend to agree. A lot of the time writers don’t need to throw every piece of history into a scene. It is imperative we know the setting and what is happening in the outside world, but we only need to drip it into the story. Better to have characters talking about something rather than stopping the pace of the scene to ‘info dump’ in order to educate a reader. I once had a young character some up with an interesting snippet about the war. When her friends asked what happened next her reply was ‘I only had the one page of the newspaper wrapping my chips.’ That is how some people view information – it is their life which is of more interest to a reader.
I love the chips in newspaper!
You keep your readers guessing right to the end but of course you know exactly what’s coming. I suspect this is down to very careful planning. Can you share some of your secrets with us?
Yes, I do plan my books in that I know what is going to happen to each character and how their story will end. I must do this in order to have the idea accepted by my editor at Pan Macmillan. However, as you know, I can and do change what may happen to a character. There are two who should have died, but I changed my mind!
Gracious, where have my manners gone abegging? Would you like some more tea? It’s been in the pot for a while now so it should be just as you like it. Builders!
I’m aware that you’ve written more books since you submitted The Woolworths Girl’s Promise. Are there more to come in this wonderful series? What else do you have in store for us?
I recently filed, Celebrations for the Woolworths Girls with my editor and hopefully it will be accepted and published in the Autumn. At the moment I’m writing another Teashop Girls book, which is the third in the series. I’m enjoying revisiting the Nippies and their families on the Kent coast during WW2 and have lots in store for them before I write the final page.
Your work ethic is unquestionable, but all work and no play would be very dull. How to you make time for yourself and what sort of thing do you do when you have?
Thank you for saying so, but I do feel our writing lives have changed so much since the dreaded Covid reared its ugly head. Like everyone else. not going out as much meant I had to find something else to tear me away from the laptop. Thanks to writing The Patchwork Girls my interest in sewing has been reignited. I’ve indulged in reading craft publications and purchasing fabric and sewing gadgets. Have I made much? The answer is no, but I’ve enjoyed the experience. I’ve also read more than I’ve ever read in my life and that has continued since.
Along with my husband I’ve spent many hours planning trips across the Continent by train – a feat in itself at times. It was on one journey last summer Covid caught up with me. I should have stayed at home!
It’s been a real joy, Elaine, as ever. I thoroughly enjoyed Betty’s story and can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next. All power to your pen! Or your keyboard. Or whatever you use. See you next time.
Thank you, Natalie, and good luck with your own book, The Wishing Well. I can’t wait for it to arrive on my Kindle. xx