Thursday, 25 September 2014

Jan Ellis on Sky’s Book Corner

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I was delighted when Simona kindly invited me to contribute something to her lovely blog until I discovered that I didn’t know what to write! That might sound a bit odd coming from an author, but one of the nice things about writing romantic comedy is that the characters pretty much create the story for you. All you have to do is wait for them to form in your head, listen when they start chatting to each other, then write it down. Okay, there’s a bit more to it than that, but you get the picture.

In my first novella, An Unexpected Affair, I came up with the characters of bookshop owner Eleanor Mace, her sister Jenna, her friend Erika, her grown-up twins and some attractive men. I became very fond of my characters, so when Endeavour Press asked me to write a brand new story I managed to sneak in two people from the first book. These were Eleanor’s mother Connie and her gentleman friend Harold. Whereas ‘romcom’ tends to focus on the young, this is a couple who have found love and adventure in their 70s and 80s. I think they’re lovely!

My heroine Eleanor has a passionate affair with a gorgeous Frenchman in her twenties, but returns to London and marries ‘Alan the Android’. This left me wondering what might have happened if Eleanor had stayed with her first love, so in my second novella – French Kisses – I decided to explore life for someone who went away as a young woman, fell in love and did make a life in France.

I called this woman Rachel and made her Harold’s daughter. She is an artist with a rambling stone house and a complicated love-life with an ex-husband, a handsome picture framer, a Ukrainian plumber and an American academic all pursuing her. I love coincidences and the connections that link us all, so it seemed quite natural that Harold and Connie would both have daughters with wanderlust. The older couple appear briefly in the second book when they spend Christmas with Rachel and her children at the guest house that Rachel sets up after her love-rat husband Michael abandons ship.

Many of the people who read the first two novellas and kindly wrote reviews said how much they enjoyed the descriptions of the locations: a traditional seaside town in the west of England and the warm, lavender-scented hills of southern France. Both places are based on real locations but given made-up names. It was great fun poring over my photographs of French towns and villages for inspiration and to check the texture of the ancient walls and the way the Rhône-Alpes look in the evening sun.

In novella number three – provisionally entitled A Spanish Affair – I return to the Devon coastal town to see how Eleanor Mace is getting on with her man. (You’ll have to read An Unexpected Affair to find out who he is!) Continuing their story has given me the opportunity to explore the ‘hero’s’ personality and give him a voice. Readers of the first novella will recognise some of the characters, and I hope will enjoying meeting the new ones. This story has an unusual Hispanic twist and some brand new locations. Of course, I had to do lots of research in Spain this summer to make sure that I got the beautiful views, fabulous beaches and chilled white wine just right. It can be tough being an author!

An Unexpected Affair and French Kisses are available to download from Amazon now for just £2.99.

An Unexpected Affair
French Kisses

A Spanish Affair will be available in November/December 2014.

To find out more about Jan Ellis, visit her website:

Follow her on Twitter @JanEllis_writer

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