Today we are very excited to host Author Elaine Everest on our blog. She is the bestseller author of The Woolworths Girls and has now released (4. May 2017) her new book The Butlins Girls, a book that already has got many great reviews. She is a former journalist, and author of non fiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the international women's magazine market.
When not writing Elaine can be found teaching her talented students at The Write Place Creative Writing School in Dartford, Kent where she holds classes at the Mick Jagger Centre.
Congratulations on your new book The Butlins Girls. What inspired you to write it? And how long did it take you to write it?
Thank you for your kind welcome and for hosting me today.
The Butlins Girls is the second book in my first contract with Pan Macmillan. The first book, The Woolworths Girls is set in Erith, Kent, during the Second World War. I like to keep my stories in the area I know well so when planning book two I thought about my maternal great grandfather’s travelling fair and how my mother had spoken of how the showmen who run these fairs knew Sir Billy Butlins. At that time it was a close community in the UK. Sir Billy, as he become known, moved on to opening holiday camps in the 1930s although he was always connected to the world of funfairs. Noticing that he was quick to re-open his camps when the war came to an end I decided to weave this into my story of Molly Missons and her need to escape from her hometown. The book took me six months to write.
Can you let us know, what a typical writing day look like for you?
I’m fortunate to be a full time writer. My laptop is turned on during breakfast and I first check my emails and messages. I don’t like to keep my editor, agent or publicist waiting for replies so will try to be on the ball with my responses.
I also run social media for the Romantic Novelist Association so like to check their Twitter account and Facebook pages for outstanding questions and enquiries. The RNA also has a blog that runs at least three posts per week. I have a fabulous team of ladies who write articles and help with interviews so like to ensure I’m on the ball with this work.
An hour or so later I can start to write. I aim for 1,000 words per day depending on whether I’m in the middle of edits for another book or helping to promote the current one. Sometimes it feels as though I’m like a juggler trying to keep many balls in the air at the same time!
I break for lunch and as my husband has recently taken retirement we will go for a walk with our dog, Henry. The joy of having a partner at home is we can now plan an afternoon out to visit a stately home or a garden centre but then I’ll be back to my work only breaking for dinner.
When and how did you start your writing career?
I started my writing career twenty years ago after leaving a demanding full time job. My father died that year and it made me take stock of my life and this made me decide to follow my dream of becoming a writer. I started by writing for the women’s magazine market with short stories and articles. I specialized in writing features about dog and dog showing which led to being commissioned for three books for dog owners. After winning the BBC short story writer of the year award I was contracted to teach creative writing for several adult education centres so also studied for my teaching certificate at the same time. These days I run my own writing school at The Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford, Kent.
Like many writers I have a few novels tucked away that should never see the light of day. I had fun writing them whilst learning the craft of being a novelist. It was joining the Romantic Novelist Associations’ New Writers’ Scheme (open to 250 writers each year who have not sold a full length work of romance) that spurred me on to fulfill my dream. I graduated after three years and met my agent, Caroline Sheldon, soon after when we chatted about writing historical sagas. What happened next is the stuff dreams are made of. She like my one page outline of a story set in Woolworths during WW2 and I went away to write three chapters. She was as good as her word when she said she’d sell my book before I finished it and low and behold I had a two-book contract with just three chapters written. I’ve not looked back since then.
How did you develop your plots and characters for the The Butlins Girls?
I’m a great believer in knowing my characters before I write their stories so thought of my book rather like a movie so every character had to play their part or they are removed. As for plot, I never have one plot in my books. There is plenty of action and each of my ‘girls’ will bring their own story to the book. I love to weave each girl’s story through her friend’s and see how they interact.
What is your favorite thing about being an author?
I’m living the dream. I get to meet people who love to read and I socialise with fellow writers. Whoever said that the life of a writer is a lonely one is wrong. I live in South East England so can be in London within an hour and meeting writers, attending talks, and just enjoy the city and what it can offer a writer.
At home I can disappear into a story set in a time gone by and forget about what’s happening in the news - and politics!
When you have classes at The Write Place for creative writing, what advice's do you give your students?
I like to involve my students in the publishing world even if they are not yet published. My classes are for people wishing to become published so it’s important they learn the ‘rules’ early on and act as professional as possible. I don’t entertain people who treat writing as a hobby. I have separate workshops for hobby writers.
What are you reading at the moment? And how often do you read?
I read all the time. I feel it is important to keep abreast of the market place and what readers wish to read. I currently have the latest paperbacks by, Kate Thompson, Annie Murray, Annie Groves and Nicola Cornick by my bedside. On my kindle Val McDermid and James Patterson are waiting for me to start reading their latest books. I’ve just finished reading Carole Matthews latest. I cover quite a few genres in my reading material.
Follow Elaine Everest on Twitter @ElaineEverest