Friday, May 5, 2017

Elaine Everest: The Butlins Girls

Elaine Everest is usually on the other side of the RNA blog, co-ordinating our writers and articles. It’s lovely to have the opportunity to get to know her today through Helena Fairfax’s interview.
Welcome to the spotlight, Elaine, and congratulations on your new release, The Butlins Girls
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background, and how you got into writing.
  I've been a freelance writer for twenty years. After my dad died in 1997 I decided if I didn’t pull my finger out and do something I’d never fulfil my dream of becoming a full time writer. Before then I’d dabbled and sold bits and pieces but giving myself that push really set things moving. Yes, there were a few times I did a temp job or sold my craftwork to help the cash flow but, from 1997, I could honestly call myself a freelance writer. To begin with I worked on articles, short stories and gradually moved onto trying to write a novel. Like most of us I have some that should never see the light of day! With my journalism I specialised in writing for dog owners, which led to broadcasting and being commissioned to write three books about the dog world. At one time new work was coming in so fast I stopped writing fiction. After discovering the RNA I again gave myself a stern talking to and started to refuse non-fiction commissions in order to concentrate on my novels. My success is all down to the RNA, the New Writers’ Scheme, and the wonderful members who have supported me along the way.

When you start a new story, what comes into your head first? Characters? Plot? Setting?
For The Woolworths Girls it was setting. I’d written a previous saga set in the town where I was born and grew up so moving onto that second book I wanted to stay in the same area but knew my main character would need a job. I imagined myself walking through that small Thames side town – I wasn’t able to do this physically as Erith was the victim of urban renewal back in the sixties. I thought of the small shops, the department store and then arrived at Woolworths. I’d been a Saturday girl at Woolies (in another store) in 1969 and had a soft spot for the store so that is where my story was set. For The Butlins Girls it was a similar situation but for the books that follow I’m working more with characters and plot with the books that follow.

 Do you ever get “stuck” while writing? If so, what do you do?
I don’t get stuck as such as I do like to plan my story before I start to write. However, there are times I find myself wading through treacle when the words won’t behave themselves. I will either go back to my story and chapter outlines to remind myself what I should be working on or I’ll write another scene. I never give up or the chances are I won’t return to the story!
Your stories are set in the 1940s. What resources do you use for your research?
Non-fiction books! I have so many on the thirties and forties and now my husband has retired he can be found reading them and giving me little snippets of information that I may find useful. I love to watch films set in that time period and also listen to music. The romance of an old song can sweep me up and inspire me. I often have my characters singing in the pub or on stage and that also reminds me of my much-missed relatives who could be found singing at any celebration.
I’m fortunate in that my local council has an extensive archive of material and staff are always eager to help out when I have a query.
What advice would you give writers approaching agents/publishers?
Do your best to present them with a story/plot they haven’t read before. It can be hard at times but try to tell a good story that is original. We are extremely lucky in the RNA to meet many industry professionals at our parties and conference so make the most of it and get to know these people and what they publish or represent. Most have an online presence so look them up before you make your enquiry.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
I like to think my readers will be able to sit back and say they enjoyed the story and could relate to my characters. I’ve heard from many people who give me their experience of working in Woolworths or a holiday camp and I’m so grateful that they enjoyed my book enough to speak to me.
What’s your favourite romance novel of all time?
For me it has to be Gone With the Wind. An enormous plot, a strong woman and what a setting! 
What do you do when not writing?
When not working on my novels I’m running social media for the RNA and also running my writing
school, The Write Place, at The Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford, Kent. Apart from that, although not as active these days, I’m involved in the world of dogs. We’ve always had Old English Sheepdogs and Polish Lowland Sheepdogs since the 1970s and I love to keep in touch with my many friends in the show world. I’m judging at Windsor Championship show this summer. A great honour and as nerve wracking as having a novel published!

About Elaine: 
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. 
Pan Macmillan  
Facebook Author Page 
Twitter: @ElaineEverest
Blurb for The Butlins Girls:
'Molly Missons gazed around in awe. So this was Butlin's. Whitewashed buildings, bordered

by rhododendron, gave a cheerful feeling to a world still recovering from six years of war. The Skegness holiday camp covered a vast are, 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.'

Thank you so much for your interesting questions, Helena. xx

Thanks for coming out from backstage to appear on the blog, Elaine. It's been brilliant getting to know you better. Best of luck on release of The Butlins Girls!

Helena Fairfax is a romance author and editor. Her novels have been shortlisted for The Exeter Novel Prize, the Global Ebook Awards and the I Heart Indie Awards. You can find out more about Helena's books and editing services on her website

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Unknown said...

Good luck on the release Elaine and thank you for prividing a lovely insight into 'the boss', Helena.

Rae Cowie said...

Lovely to see the spotlight shine on you and The Butlins Girls, Elaine. Wishing you success by the shed load. xx

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