Chatting with Elaine Everest

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




Twitter: @ElaineEverest

The Wishing Well

It’s been a long time, I know, but I’ve had to take a year off due to personal circumstances. But hey, I’m back now, and with the great news that I have another book on its way. It’s due to be published on 5th May but if you’re super-organised and would like to ensure you get your copy on time you can pre-order The Wishing Well by clicking on this link.

Once again my publishers,, have come up with the most fabulous cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Both hero and heroine are the victims of tragic circumstances from which neither has yet recovered. I’m not giving too much away when I tell you that Major Brew Ware has carried his guilt since childhood, believing himself to be responsible for the death of his youngest sister. Estranged from his family, he fled home as soon as he was old enough to join the army and led his men at the Battle of Waterloo. Harriet Lambert’s fiancé was a victim of that very same battle and, three years later, she is still mourning her loss. Our story begins in 1818 when both come to London and meet at a soirée, where they form an immediate connection. Their friendship flourishes but is Harriet prepared to take another chance on love…

This is my sixth book with Sapere (there’ll be another one along soon) written in my favourite genre and what a joy it has been to steep myself once more in the etiquette and language of the Regency era.

I’ll be back soon to tell you more. In the meantime why not visit my Amazon Author Page where you’ll find my other books.

See you next time


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


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.


Website and blog:

Facebook author page: Elaine Everest | Facebook

Twitter: @ElaineEverest

Amazon author page: : elaine everest books

Remembering Rosemary Goodacre

Rosemary Goodacre

Those of us who have put together the short story competition in memory of our friend, Rosemary Goodacre, wanted to share with you a few of our thoughts and memories of a very special lady. Entry details can be found below our comments and all proceeds will go to her favourite charity, Spadework, which supports its beneficiaries (adults with learning and other disabilities) to be more independent, less isolated and to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. We hope you will feel inspired to take part.

Elaine Everest

Rosemary was a very special friend. We met in the staff room at Gravesend Adult education centre where I was teaching creative writing and Rosemary was tutoring IT skills. Very soon after that she joined my class. In the years that followed she attended my privately run classes and together with other friends we attended conferences, talks and writing retreats. Rosemary loved the written word, and this competition is the perfect way to remember her.

Francesca Capaldi

When Rosemary passed away unexpectedly in October 2020, it was a shock. I first met her in 2007, at Adult Ed classes, and we’d been in writing classes together ever since. We were both initially sending out short stories and then novels, supporting each other and encouraging and being supported by others in the class. To be involved in a writing competition to honour her, with other friends in that class, seems a fitting way to remember her.

Elaine Roberts

Rosemary and I were friends, who had writing in common. She was an interesting, understated, and knowledgeable woman who did voluntary and charity work. By being part of this competition, with all the proceeds going to her favourite charity, we are honouring Rosemary and all she stood for. When I think about it I can’t believe some of our crazy conversations will never happen again. I’m proud to be part of this in her memory.

Ann West

I have two reasons to support this competition. Firstly, it is a way to express my appreciation of Rosemary as a friend and fellow student at The Write Place. Rosemary could always be relied on to come up with a pertinent, insightful comment on one’s work. I do miss the dry sense of humour she so frequently displayed. Secondly, I have been a customer and admirer of Spadework for a long time, long may they survive.

Catherine Burrows

‘I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.’ (Helen Keller). For the last couple of years, we had to find new ways to cherish our friends during difficult times. Happily, sunshine always follows the rain and it’s good to be together again. That’s why I wanted to be involved in this competition, it celebrates not only Rosemary’s friendship but also, the very best of human qualities. 

Natalie Kleinman

Rosemary was so many things to me. We met as students at The Write Place and I had the privilege of knowing her for some ten years. Not only did she write incredibly well-researched books but she was also an accomplished short story writer and poet. She was a very cultured woman with a vast range of knowledge but what I most remember is her sense of humour. Mostly understated and sometimes truly wicked. To spend time with Rosemary was to smile.

About the competition:

1500 words maximum
Theme: Friendship
Each entry costs £7.50


1st £150.00
2nd £100.00
3rd £50.00 

Entries open 1st November 2021
Entries close midnight 31st March 2022
Please see guidelines below

Entry Details

Send your email entry to FORGCOMP@GMAIL.COM with two attachments:

First attachment:

Your story
Maximum 1500 words
Times New Roman size 12 font
One side of page only
Double line spaced and numbered
No headers or footers
Please keep your story to the theme of friendship

Second attachment:

The front sheet to the story containing:
The entrant’s name and contact details
Title of story and wordcount
*Ensure the name used is the same as entered on the bank payment.
Your email entry will be acknowledged
An email acknowledgement will be sent

Send payment to our competition account c/o:

Elaine Everest
Account number: 08389897
Sort code: 60-83-71
In the reference line please add your name so we can cross reference entries.


*The organisers reserve the right to refuse entries that do not meet the rules of this competition or are deemed inappropriate.

Vivien Brown

The long list of entries will be drawn up by ‘The friends of Rosemary Goodacre’ consisting of Elaine Everest, Catherine Burrows, Natalie Kleinman, Francesca Capaldi, Elaine Roberts, Ann West. It will then be passed to our main judge, Vivien Brown. herself a successful author and a fellow of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists where she oversees competitions and social media.


Spadework is a charity, based near West Malling in Kent, which supports its beneficiaries to be more independent, less isolated and to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.  

Through the many on – site activities, we help our Trainees (adults with learning and other disabilities) to be more independent and prepared for life outside their family and Spadework. By feeling the value of doing a good job, being part of something bigger than themselves and playing an active part in the community our Trainees have an increased sense of self-worth, belonging and purpose.  

We also have a Farm Shop and Garden Centre that are open to the public. 7 days a week. All the profits go to support the charity.  

You can find out more about Spadework at or by following us on Facebook.

We look forward to receiving your entries – remember, the closing date is 31st March 2022. Happy writing and GOOD LUCK!

Chatting with Ros Rendle

I’m thrilled to welcome Ros Rendle back to the blog to talk about her latest book, Resistance of Love. Make yourself comfortable, Ros, and we’ll begin.

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Natalie. I hope your readers find my answers of interest.

I’ve been waiting for this book, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I thought separating the book into parts was an ideal way of seamlessly moving from one timeframe to the next. Was it in the planning or did it just ‘happen’ and is it a method you’ve used before?

I haven’t used ‘parts’ before. A significant number of people asked what happened to Delphi after Book 1 – Sisters At War, and so it seemed necessary to write that. Moving onto the next part of the story lent itself to having a separation and so Part 2 was born. That meant that section was much longer than Part 1, so my publisher and I decided to split it. Thus Part 3 came into being when the story changed its profile a little.

Without wanting to give anything away, Resistance of Love is a generational book. Can your readers expect a sequel?

In a way, this is the sequel. I haven’t planned one for these characters. However, the youngest sister from Sisters At War, her name is Izzy, is about to appear in The Divided Heart. This is set between 1970 when Izzy is elderly, and much is set during the Cold War when she harbors a secret.

You have set me thinking now, though, about the possibilities of writing a sequel more directly about Flora from Resistance of Love. There were some major world events for France during that era.

I know you lived in France for many years and your geographical knowledge is in evidence. Do you think you could have written the same book without that personal experience, using only Google Maps and reference books?

I do use Google and books a lot but having lived in the regions about which I write has enable some more detailed knowledge. We had a V1 ramp and its associated buildings on the edge of our village in northern France and a couple of the elderly residents were able, though reluctant, to speak of the invasion and building of those.

I should not have heard it were in not for the fact we lived there and got to know these residents well.

I learned of the Resistance escape route through Chateau de Chenonceau when we visited, and that information is on Google. However, to tread in the steps of my protagonists is always helpful for those small details. A small example is the dint in the limestone steps where hundreds have trodden before, which lends authority to a story, as does the weight of a dark oak door.

When we were renovating an ancient wall at our house in the Loire region, we found a German coin from 1944. One of our farmer neighbours spoke of when troops were sent there to ‘rest’ and of the strain of living with the enemy and with the culture of being encouraged to inform on each other. I think life in this country must have been dreadful during the war but life in an occupied country was extremely stressful at times.

The drama of Part 3 had me racing through. It certainly brought home to me the fear and terror that people lived through. Did your research include talking to anyone who experienced it first-hand?

One man who was a boy, during those times told me of how his family planned to outrun the Nazis and escape to the ‘Free’ Zone further south. They were half-way down his long driveway in the middle of the night, when the invaders arrived, and they fled back indoors. This story was too good not to use from the time distance we are in now, but the people who lived through it were extremely reluctant to speak in detail, especially about the bullet holes in the wall of the church. I never did get to the bottom of that, and if I had, I wouldn’t have included it.

There was a real sense of family but some of the scenes were very harrowing. Did you find them difficult to write?

The particular scene to which you refer was hard to read about. I discovered a lot more information, through reading and old TV programmes, than I used. The difficult part in writing was to decide what to use and what to leave to the imagination and how best to interpret cold facts and bring them into a personal domain. The balance of these things was testing as I didn’t want to make it too horrific for the genre in which the story resides.

You’ve given us a really interesting cast of characters. Was each meticulously planned beforehand or did some present themselves to you as you were writing? It was really good to see Delphi achieve her happy ever after but for me this is Flora’s book. A brave young woman who did what so many had to at the time.

It became Flora’s book. She took over and got on with what had to be done during the time and place in which she found herself. One or two of the other characters in her sphere became more prominent as I wrote, and the influence of the Great War could not be denied. It had tentacles which influenced long into the future for some, and even for the future families of those who fought in that.

I know your writing covers different time periods. Is there anyone, past or present, who is your own personal hero or heroine and what makes them stand out from the rest?

For the last eight years or so, my husband has befriended, via a local charity, an old man who was suffering from loneliness. Cyril, known as Sid, became a good family friend and often came to our house as well as my husband visiting him far more regularly than the charity suggested, sometimes going in the night when he was called, because Sid had fallen. In 2017, on learning of Sid’s exploits in the Channel and elsewhere during WW2, my husband informed the relevant authorities, and after their research and much form, filling Sid was awarded the Légion d’Honneur by the French President. The letter of thanks and congratulations arrived, and Sid became proud to wear the accompanying medal at our local Remembrance Day services. He had volunteered early to join the navy, going aged only just seventeen, and some of his real-life exploits, I have written in the book.

He died last month, aged 96, and the Royal British Legion played the last post at his funeral. Sid never believed he was a hero … but he was.

There were so many unsung heroes, weren’t there. I’m so glad Sid ultimately received recognition.

Thank you for joining me. It’s been lovely to chat. Let’s do it again some time.


Delphi’s peaceful new life is threatened by the spectre of war…
England, 1927
After spending ten years in Australia, Delphi Strong is on a ship back to England with her daughter, Flora.
While on board, Delphi meets Rainier, a charming vineyard owner on his way home to France. Forming an instant mutual attraction, the two share a whirlwind romance before disembarking.
Unable to forget her, Rainier crosses the channel a few months later and asks Delphi to marry him. Equally lovestruck, Delphi accepts, and she and Flora join Rainier in France.
However, their idyllic lifestyle is shattered when war breaks out and the Nazis begin to occupy the country. Forced to flee to the Free Zone in the south, the family must now pull together to resist the enemy…

Can Delphi keep her family safe? Will they find a way to defy the occupying forces?

Or will the brutal new regime destroy their peace forever…?
RESISTANCE OF LOVE is a page-turning romantic saga set in England and France during World War II. It is the second book in The Strong Family Historical Saga series.

To find out more about Ros you might visit her website or join her on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. She loves to interact with readers.

Resistance of Love purchase link:

Do you have a short story you’re burning to tell?

Rosemary Goodacre

A little over a year ago we lost a dear friend when Rosemary Goodacre passed away suddenly. For some of us Rosemary wasn’t just a writing colleague but also a valued friend with whom we spent time in various places. At conferences, as a flat-mate, she was a joy though it was sometimes difficult to keep tabs on her as she had a habit of wandering off on her own, usually on a mission. Our regular Saturday writing retreats would almost always see her arriving last and in a flurry. Lunches and afternoon teas featured in our programme as well and I’ll never forget the week-long writing retreat in Ramsgate when we ‘lost’ her several times. All this seemed to be at odds with her own writing which was meticulously researched (she was the author of WW1 sagas) and a joy to read. At the time of her passing, her third book in The Derwent Chronicles series had just been published.

Rosemary didn’t confine herself to novels. She was a keen short story writer, widely published and winning several competitions. It is to this we turned when seeking a way of honouring our friend. So, here it is, The Friends of Rosemary Goodacre Short Story Competition. All proceeds will go to Rosemary’s favourite charity, Spadework

About the Competition

1500 words maximum
Theme: Friendship
Each entry costs £7.50


1st £150.00
2nd £100.00
3rd £50.00 

Entries open 1st November 2021
Entries close midnight 31st March 2022
Please see entry details below

Our Main Judge

Vivien Brown

Vivien gave up her job in finance when she gave birth to IVF twins and started writing instead, winning the annual Mail on Sunday ‘Best Opening to a Novel’ competition in 1993 and reaching the shortlist again three years later. She has since sold 150 short stories to UK women’s magazines and written more than 250 articles for childcare magazines, based on her subsequent highly rewarding career introducing the magic of books to the under-fives and their families through the Sure Start and Bookstart programmes.

She became a creative writing tutor in the evenings and contributed a regular column to Writers’ Forum magazine that followed the ups and downs of her writing life. She has also had a book about ‘cracking’ cryptic crosswords published, and several humorous children’s poems included in school anthologies.

Now established as a successful novelist, Vivien has had six women’s contemporary novels published, all with domestic drama and family relationship themes. Vivien is a fellow of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists where she oversees competitions and social media, and a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. In 2020, she judged the Nottingham Writers’ Club ‘Home’ short story competition and was one of three judges for the Time and Tide ‘Brilliant Women’ Writing Competition for high school students. Away from writing, Vivien is a doting grandmother, watches and occasionally takes part in TV quiz shows, is an avid reader and reviewer of women’s fiction, and enjoys the challenge of both solving and compiling cryptic crosswords.

The Charity

Spadework is a charity, based near West Malling in Kent, which supports its beneficiaries to be more independent, less isolated and to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.  

Through the many on – site activities, we help our Trainees (adults with learning and other disabilities) to be more independent and prepared for life outside their family and Spadework. By feeling the value of doing a good job, being part of something bigger than themselves and playing an active part in the community our Trainees have an increased sense of self-worth, belonging and purpose.  

We also have a Farm Shop and Garden Centre that are open to the public. 7 days a week. All the profits go to support the charity.  

You can find out more about Spadework at or by following us on Facebook.

Entry Details

Send your email entry to FORGCOMP@GMAIL.COM with two attachments:

First attachment:

Your story
Maximum 1500 words
Time New Roman size 12 font
One side of page only
Double line spaced and numbered
No headers or footers
Please keep your story to the theme of friendship

Second attachment:

The front sheet to the story containing:
The entrant’s name and contact details
Title of story and wordcount
*Ensure the name used is the same as entered on the bank payment.
Your email entry will be acknowledged
An email acknowledgement will be sent

Send payment to our competition account c/o:

Elaine Everest
Account number: 08389897
Sort code: 60-83-71
In the reference line please add your name so we can cross reference entries.


*The organisers reserve the right to refuse entries that do not meet the rules of this competition or are deemed inappropriate.

The long list of entries will be drawn up by ‘The friends of Rosemary Goodacre’ consisting of Elaine Everest, Catherine Burrows, Natalie Kleinman, Francesca Capaldi, Elaine Roberts, Ann West.


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


Website and blog:

Facebook author page: Elaine Everest | Facebook

Twitter: @ElaineEverest

Amazon author page: : elaine everest books

Chatting with Ros Rendle

It’s my great pleasure to welcome another Sapere author to the blog. Thank you for joining me, Ros, and for agreeing to answer my questions.

The Warring Heart is the second book after Sisters at War. Did you always plan to write a series and is it something you’ve done before?

I did. The original series was three books featuring sisters and troubled times during the early 20th century. However, I decided to add to the series with this book set during WW1. I haven’t written a series before and nor have I written historical fiction, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the intricacies of linking stories and characters, so I have embarked on another series but set in contemporary times.

I loved the touches where established characters from the first book are subtly included. Was it more difficult to incorporate them or was their familiarity welcome?

Thank you. I was loathe to leave some characters behind. As a writer, I become entwined with the lives of my characters.  Since publishing the first book, other people asked what happened to some of them, too. That, in particular, influenced the next book in the series which should be coming out soon. However, in this one it’s an opportunity to round off some characters, who did have a happy ending before, but as in life, it’s always good to catch up and exchange news. I did have to watch timelines carefully, though.

You display considerable skill at moving your scenes between the relatively quiet life in England and the horrors of the frontline. How did you cope with two such different scenarios?

I wanted to maintain the momentum of characters in geographically different places but who have a deep connection. They each need to concentrate on what they have to do but always they have the other at the back of their mind. In real life we do this all the time, although fortunately for most, the circumstances of our lives are not so dramatic. I tried to show, even during those dire historical times, life for those at home was very dissimilar to those in the trenches but also very difficult and often stressful in a different way.

There is a saying ‘less is more’, and your battle scenes are gut wrenching but circumscribed. Nevertheless, it is patently evident that a huge amount of research has gone into this part of your work. How did you approach this aspect?

I did do a vast amount of research both geographically and through books and archives. Since we lived in northern France for many years, I have visited the areas of Belgium and France I describe many times and have attended ceremonies at the sites of battles. As a representative of the Royal British Legion, I’ve attended reburials of soldiers rediscovered during modern-day building works, for example. I’ve also used books, and documents of the day from Kew Archives Office. I read many reports from soldiers in the trenches but some of their circumstances were too traumatic to detail. I hope I’ve done justice to their experiences and sacrifices albeit through the medium of a novel.

How many more books do you have planned for this series?

There are three more books to come. Two are set during WW2 – one mainly in France about French resistance and the other featuring a prisoner of war camp built in the UK . They feature children of the characters in the first two books. The third is set before and during the Cold War as well as in the 1970s. The youngest sister from the original story is an old lady but remembers her time travelling to East Berlin after the wall was built. Her story reflects the emotions of her care-giver in a home for the elderly.

I know you write in other genres as well, and in different times. Will you be sticking with WW1 for the time being or are there other ideas in the pipeline?

Other than the books I’ve mentioned above, I’ve written three books, accepted but yet to be published and a fourth is coming. They’re more contemporary and set in and around a rambling and ancient property called Moondreams House. One is a relationships story around eMotion School of Dance. Another is about a girl who discovers she is a foundling and a woman who had to abandon her baby. Tea and Sweet Dreams is the business established at the House for this one. A third features second time love, an enigmatic French gardener with a secret, and a rural rough sleeper. The most recent one is about a young ex-soldier missing a limb, who must find a new purpose. She comes to Moondreams House to start a flower shop and becomes involved with the meanings of the blooms she is arranging for others.

Readers are a nosy bunch (well I certainly am). What can you tell us about Ros Rendle when she isn’t entertaining us with her books?

We love dancing and dog walking although not normally at the same time. We have been caught out practising on a farm track once or twice, however! When we came to live back in the UK, we took up ballroom and Latin dancing. Under normal circumstances we would either have lessons or go to dances two or three times each week. We’re getting back into it again now. We met some very good friends through this, and they all said, ‘you should write a book about it’. Now I have. Rhythm of Life at Moondreams House was born.

With dogs we walk each day. During the lockdowns we walked the Lincolnshire lanes and tracks and as my husband has health issues it meant we both, but he in particular, lost a lot of weight. He has benefitted directly from this. Having got into the habit we shall endeavour to maintain it. Both daughters and all four granddaughters are encouraging.

We still have a house in France and hope to return at some point. I have a feeling there will be a significant amount of work to be done in the garden and a DIY project to complete.

Thank you, Natalie, for this opportunity. I hope readers find my responses of interest. Your questions certainly got my brain cells working.

Thank you so much for joining me, Ros. I look forward to the next book, and the next, and…


England, 1914
When the man she loves deserts her, young Pretoria Redfern is left broken-hearted. Facing public embarrassment, she must become betrothed to another as quickly as possible to deflect gossip.
To her surprise, family friend Nathanial Moore — a well-off farmer — soon asks for her hand. Harbouring a secret love for Pretoria, he is eager to help protect her from scandal.
Sensing his kindness and honesty, Pretoria accepts his offer and tentatively settles into married life.
But with Britain at war with Germany, the newlyweds’ peace is soon disturbed. Feeling duty-bound to serve his country, Nathanial enlists and leaves for the front line in France.
Though not yet in love with her husband, Pretoria is soon missing his warmth and companionship, and longs for his safe return.

But when a shadow from her past reappears, Pretoria must decide where her happiness truly lies…
Will Nathanial survive the war? Will Pretoria learn to open her heart to him?
Or will the distance drive them further apart…?
THE WARRING HEART is a breath-taking romantic military saga set in war-time England and France during World War I.


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Chatting with Jane Cable

Welcome to the blog, Jane. It’s always a pleasure to talk to another Sapere author.

It seems to me that a huge amount of research and planning went into The Forgotten Maid before ever you put pen to paper. Could you share some of the process with us please.

There was a great deal of research because it was the first time I’ve written even part of a book in another era, but on the other hand I made it easy for myself by setting the story in my local area, which meant I knew the settings inside out.

All the same I knew nothing of the history of Truro, so I started with my local library and two wonderful books by a local historian on the town (as it was then) in the Napoleonic war era, and then in the age of reform. The latter even contained a street plan with the actual shops and businesses of the time on so it was great fun to have my Regency main character Therese and young Mary Daniell visit some of them.

I already knew something of the Daniell family’s town house and it still exists as a multi-occupancy office building so I was able to go there. There is a fantastic research facility at the Royal Cornwall Museum and I was able to read articles about it from old magazines – as well as dig into many of the other historical aspects of life in Cornwall at the time I needed to know about.

I could go on… I have become quite boring about the history of Truro in the Regency era.

Absolutely not! Your historic timeline is set in a period that’s close to my own heart. Why did you choose the Regency in preference to any other?

Like you, I enjoy reading novels set in the Regency era, but with Cornwall as the main setting you could call it the Poldark era too. I know I am not alone in adoring those books, so for me it was a pretty obvious choice as readers are familiar with Cornwall at that time.

Trelissick House and the Daniell family are central to your story. What made you choose a real setting with all the research that would involve, rather than make something up?


That’s me all over, I’m afraid – I do like a solid historical basis for a book, although of course in this case there are few records about what the Daniells were like as people, so I needed to make up their personalities. However the shape of the family is right – for example, at the time of the book Lizzie was engaged to William and would have been planning her wedding. There are records of Elizabeth Daniell giving poor relief in the parish of St Agnes so there is some basis for her being a kindly person.

Once I had the Daniells in place it seemed easier to make up the other characters. It all just feels so much more solid to me that way.

Your love of the area you’ve chosen to make your home shines from the pages of your book. Was it easier or harder to create fiction in a place that’s so close to your heart?

Chapel Porth Cliff Line

Much easier. The north Cornwall coastline where Anna (my twentieth century protagonist) lives is, to me, one of the most beautiful places in the world so taking readers there was an absolute joy. In the end I decided to change the names of the villages (although local people will recognise where they are) because the real community Anna finds herself in is one of the most welcoming and supportive places I know.

It’s a skill to write a dual timeline novel where your readers are invested in both periods, in both heroines. I found myself emotionally drawn to Therese and Anna. Each time you moved century I was disappointed to leave one, wanting very much to know what was going to happen next, and eager to return to the other to find out exactly that. Have you used this device before and do you plan to do so again?

That is such a lovely thing to say, Natalie – thank you. Luckily our mutual publisher, Sapere Books, likes the idea of a series of standalone novels based around the great Cornish houses of the Regency era so there will certainly be more of the same – but different – to come. The books will be known as the Cornish Echoes dual timeline mysteries, and The Lost Heir, based around the Basset family at Tehidy, should be published next year.

I’ll certainly be looking forward to The Lost Heir. And now something about Jane Cable, please.

I think I’ve probably gabbled on for long enough, but if anyone is interested in finding out more about me and my books, they can visit my website which is, or find me on Facebook as Jane Cable, Author or Twitter @JaneCable.

It’s been lovely talking to you, Jane, but before I let you go, what’s coming next?

I also write emotional women’s fiction as Eva Glyn, and my second book under that name will be published in early September. It’s called The Olive Grove and is set in Croatia, where a decision a woman makes at the end of the Balkan war in 1996 comes back to haunt the child she loves after her death.

Another one for me to add to my list. I’ve really enjoyed our chat and I hope you’ll join me again soon.


Welcome to the blog, Valerie. It’s always a pleasure to talk to another Regency author. So, here goes…

Wow! I have just read the prologue to Betrayal and now I can’t wait to read more, but I wanted to come to this interview in ignorance, if you like. To find out more about Valerie Holmes. Your writing career has spanned some twenty years and more than 45 books, most of which are historical and all of which as far as I can tell seem to be filled with romance and adventure. So what is the most important to you…Genre? Setting? Characters? What is it that leads your writing?

Thank you for the lovely compliment. My first publication was in 2002 when I won the Annual Ghost Story Competition in Writing Magazine. This was shortly followed by my first novella – I have not stopped writing since.

I think every writer loves the characters they create; the challenge is to convey this passion to the readers. I also love the region of North Yorkshire and its dramatic history over the centuries. I created my own typical market towns of Gorebeck and Beckton and the seaside fishing/smuggling village of Ebton that features in my To Have and To Hold, published by Sapere Books.

You will know that in Sapere Books we share a publisher and that I too write Regency romance. I know what drew me to the genre, but what about you?

Most of my books are set in the early nineteenth century. It is a fascinating period of turbulence and conflict. So much was changing: wars, inventions, religion, smuggling, class divides, and population shifts that it is ripe for conflict – the essence of drama.

I feel that Regency is so often limited to The Ton and a very limited and somewhat glorified view of the period, when it was a time of great change and often suffering. I find the North Yorkshire setting beautiful and dramatic, but romance and love are always at the core of the adventure.

Romance is at the heart of life, if you pardon the pun. The world needs more romance and happy endings. Genres are separated but are interdependent –  love is very often at the centre of many plots, or the lack of it.

I admit to having had a peep at some of your books on Amazon and I see you frequently have a prologue. Is it a device you employ deliberately or does it just fall that way for you?…

Some people do not like prologues, which is fine, but if they do what they were intended to do – set up a situation, a past event or scene that directly impacts on everything that happens from Chapter One moving forwards, then I am happy to use them.

Often though it depends upon the plot and if one is needed to avoid clumsy flashbacks.

…Which begs the question, plotter or pantser?

I used to be a pantser when I just wrote novellas. Now I have developed into a plotter and ‘tweaker’. I still write from the heart, but I redraft and edit, refine, tweak and tighten the writing.

I have learnt to slow down and revisit. I used to be too eager to move on to the next story. Like anything you do over a number of years, the more you do it the more proficient you become.

I’ve just ordered Betrayal and can’t wait to begin. Are your books sequential or can I just dip in at will?

Thank you!
The next Regency Friends and Foes, Silent Revenge, will have Lord Farrington, an important sub-character from Betrayal reappearing, but most of my titles are stand-alone books that are linked by region.

The North Riding Novellas can be read in any order.

After more than 45 books, what is it that inspires you, and what’s coming next?

I have always been drawn to history – locations, historical fiction, non-fiction, folklore, customs and atmospheres. Ideas trigger from anywhere. It is amazing how learning and research on any period in history is a never-ending process. I have always enjoyed conjuring up characters, situations and adventures.

I have two more titles in Regency Friends and Foes being released this year and hope to see a prequel to the Sapere Books in print beyond that.

I have two other projects in draft for 2022 – but more on them later! J

Thanks so much for inviting me!

It’s been my pleasure. I hope you’ll come and join me again soon


About Betrayal

1814 North Yorkshire, England

Lydia Fletcher is party to a secret. The lives of her father, a young woman and an unborn child depend on her keeping it. Lord and Lady Bagby are using her ailing father’s situation to ensure her compliance with their plans.

Lord Samuel Speers, a consulting physician, arrives in the village to purportedly complete a study on the health of the local people. He is really there in search of his cousin, a young woman who had been the Bagbys’ governess, and has disappeared since leaving their employ. He quickly recognises that Lydia may well be the key to solving the mystery and is drawn to her. Realising she is working beneath her natural station in life he presses for information. Lydia is desperate to trust someone, but is that person the handsome doctor?

Lydia needs a solution to her problems and time is becoming desperate. Who can she turn to? Dare she disclose what she knows about Samuel’s cousin? Will she be the next victim of the Bagbys’ plans?

About Valerie Holmes

Valerie has had forty-six large-print novellas published by F A Thorpe and four novels by Sapere Books.
She has independently published the eBook versions of some of the novellas and most recently launched a new Regency series.
Valerie is also a creative writing tutor for the London School of Journalism and Writing Magazine as well as independently and can be contacted via her website.
She is a member of the: RNA, CWA, HNS, Society of Authors and Alliance of Independent Authors.