Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Q & A with Elaine Everest

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

1.    Did you always dream of being a writer?

I had a dream even when at primary school. I was given a blue Petite Typewriter for my birthday and wrote ‘Pip the Pixie’ but now knowing that I should type on one sheet of paper at a time I taped them together rather like a roll of toilet paper! I’ve no idea what happened to that masterpiece!

2.    How did your writing career develop?

Twenty years ago during a rather stressful year when I lost my job and my dad and father in-law died I decided to stop faffing about and take some creative wiring lessons. At that time I planned to earn my living writing shorts stories – the market was more lucrative in those days – but in time I was writing features and also teaching creating writing whilst also turning about a few abysmal novels. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association as part of their New Writers’ Scheme and even though I was doing well in fiction and features I bit the bullet and focused on novel writing. It was just after I graduated the scheme that I met my now agent, Caroline Sheldon who secured my first two book deal with Pan Macmillan on the strength of three chapters and a synopsis. I’m now working on my fifth book for Pan Mac.

3.    Your newest novel is called The Butlins Girls, what is it about?

My story starts in 1946 just after the end of WW2 when Molly Missons finds herself alone in the world after the death of her parents. Molly lives in Erith, Kent just as my characters in The Woolworths Girls did. However she faces danger and her friends decided she should take work in another part of the country. Billy Butlin was just opening his well-known holiday camps and so it is that Molly takes a position as a Butlin’s Aunty for the summer season. While there she meets new friends Plum and Bunty who have their own reasons for working at Butlins. She also meets handsome matinee idol Johnny Johnson…

4.    What was your inspiration for the book?

After writing The Woolworths Girls I wanted to continue my next book in Erith as there is so much history in the town – and it is where I was born many years ago. My mother’s family had been show people and had owned a fairground up until the end of WW2. Billy Butlin was known to the family so while reading history books and looking for inspiration I came across a news piece about him opening his camps after the war and my story started to form…

5.    Can you tell us more about the main character(s)?

Molly Missons is an Erith girl who worked in the Land Army during the war. She’s unsure what to do with her life after her parents die and is content to run her family ironmongery business until danger enters her life. At this point she lifts her chin and bravely steps into a life far away from what she’s ever known before. 
Johnny Johnson was a matinee idol during the war and featured in patriotic ‘B movies’ where young women like Molly swooned over his good looks and dashing lifestyle. However, his life also changes at the end of the war and he finds himself at Butlins and falling in love with a young woman named Molly.

6.    Where and when do you write your stories?

I have a lovely office that my husband has refurbished. However, you will find me working at the kitchen table with my Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, at my feet with the TV switched to This Morning and Loose Women – and the kettle on!

7.    What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

I’m trying to get fit so now my husband has taken retirement we make a point of taking a long walk everyday. I’m a slave to my Fitbit!

8.    If you could switch places with a characters from a book, who would it be and why?

I would love to change places with Molly from The Butlins Girls. Like her I’ve knew heartbreak as I lost my mum when I was seventeen. We had wonderful family holidays at Warners’ Holiday Camps and Mum told me once that I should consider working at a camp when I left school as I used to help run the Brownies and Guides and could sing and dance. She thought I’d make  good Auntie. That thought has stayed with me for many years so in a way I’ve followed Mum’s suggestion albeit in words.

9.    What books have influenced your life most?

For me it is the books of my childhood. Enid Blyton’s adventure books – I longed to have great adventures although I couldn’t stand ginger beer! Also, Little Women as I felt so much like Jo as she hid away to write her stories and plays. It was also my first introduction to romance with the boy next door.

10. What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on another Woolworths book. It’s a joy to return to my girls at Woolies and see what has happened in their lives since the last book. There is also a new Woolworths Girl who I am sure readers will love.

11. What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love being able to visit the past and to recreate the nostalgia of the war years. Life was tough but people pulled together and families were close.

12. Pick three authors you want to have dinner with and tell us why.

I would love to dine with Dennis Wheatley to chat to him about his books set in the 1930s. He portrayed the era so well. I’m also a fan of his supernatural stories. Dick Francis for his crime novels set in the world of horse racing. Who doesn’t like crime? Finally I’d invite Dame Barbara Cartland to add some sparkle and romance to the procedings.

13. Imagine The Butlins Girls would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

Wouldn’t that be wonderful! Molly would be played by the lovely Sheridan Smith as she’d need to sing and dance and be prepared to fight the world. I feel that Michael Buble would make the perfect Johnny Johnson although for my perfect Johnny I’d have to go back in time and hire Peter Lawson as he was the person who caught my eye in the film Easter Parade when he played the character Johnny Harrow and I thought he’d be the perfect Johnny in my story.

14. You also wrote The Woolworths Girls, can you tell us more about it?
The story is set in Erith (NW Kent) at the end of 1938 when Sarah, Freda and Maisie meet at their interview to work at Woolworths. Sarah also meets Alan who is to become the love of her life but with storm clouds forming will the war get in the way of true romance?

15. How would you describe your style of writing?
Nostalgia, adventure and history with a good dollop of romance thrown in for good luck!

16. Coffee or tea?  Tea
17. Paperback or e-reader? Paperback
18. Mountains or the sea? Sea
19. Summer or winter? Summer
20. Sweet or salty? Sweet


Twitter: @elaineeverest

Elaine Everest was born and brought up in North west Kent, where many of her books are set. She has written widely for women's magazines, with both short stories and features. When she isn't writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Dartford, Kent, and runs social media for the Romantic Novelists' Association.
Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent.

Book Blurb:

'Molly Missons gazed around in awe. So this was Butlin's. Whitewashed buildings, bordered by rhododendrons, gave a cheerful feeling to a world still recovering from six years of war. The Skegness holiday camp covered a vast area, much larger than Molly expected to see.'
Molly Missons hasn't had the best of times recently. Having lost her parents, now some dubious long-lost family have darkened her door - attempting to steal her home and livelihood...
After a horrendous ordeal, Molly applies for a job as a Butlin's Aunty. When she receives news that she has got the job, she immediately leaves her small hometown - in search of a new life in Skegness.
Molly finds true friendship in Freda, Bunty and Plum. But the biggest shock is discovering that star of the silver screen, Johnny Johnson, is working at Butlin's as head of the entertainment team. Johnny takes an instant liking to Molly and she begins to shed the shackles of her recent traumas. Will Johnny be just the distraction Molly needs - or is he too good to be to be true?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Simona, thank you so much for hosting me today. I did enjoy answering your questions xx