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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Author Q & A Elaine Everest - The Woolworths Girls


It's 1938 and as the threat of war hangs over the country, Sarah Caselton is preparing for her new job at Woolworths. Before long, she forms a tight bond with two of her colleagues: the glamorous Maisie and shy Freda. The trio couldn't be more different, but they immediately form a close-knit friendship, sharing their hopes and dreams for the future.
Sarah soon falls into the rhythm of her new position, enjoying the social events hosted by Woolies and her blossoming romance with young assistant manager, Alan. But with the threat of war clouding the horizon, the young men and women of Woolworths realize that there are bigger battles ahead. It's a dangerous time for the nation, and an even more perilous time to fall in love . . .

Title:        The Woolworth Girls
Author:    Elaine Everest
Published By: Pan Macmillan
Date:        May 5th 2016
Link:        UK: Amazon  US: Amazon

Author Q & A

Welcome to Sincerely Book Angels.
What was the inspiration behind this novel?
I have always enjoyed hearing stories from the town of Erith where I was born and as a child had fond memories of our local Woolworths store where I ultimately set The Woolworths Girls. When married I lived in a street that had survived two world wars and often wondered what it would have been like to live there during WW2. So, I had my setting, background stories and a love of the area. The Woolworths Girls was born.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I’ve always written and my first attempt at a novel was on a Petit Typewriter and was the tale of Pip the Pixie. I often wonder what happened to that great work! Much much later I started to write short stories for women’s magazines as well as features and moved into writing full time. It was my dream job but still I wanted to be a novelist.

What other jobs have you had?
I was a Woolworths Girls, albeit as a Saturday job, while in my final year at school and during college where I trained in accountancy. Back then my mother wanted her children to work in an office as it was something she wasn’t able to do as a teenager due to the war. Boring, boring, boring, but I moved into management before deciding to follow my writing dream. All I will say is that those years gave me a great file of ideas of for characters and plots so perhaps not totally wasted.

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
My first taste of having a book published was one of three non-fiction books for dog owners. Very exciting! However, it was with my first novel that I found readers liked my style of writing, loved the setting in North West Kent and enjoyed what I had to say. After that I focused more on my fiction and moved away from journalism.

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?

I don’t believe in writers block. Writing is my job and I have to come up with the words regardless of how I feel. If I find myself wading through treacle when writing I will go back to my story outline, check the chapter breakdown and reread what I’ve written and that usually trigger fresh words and ideas to keep me going.

What motivates you to keep writing?
Money! Seriously, it is my job. If I don’t write I don’t earn and the dog starves. Nothing is more motivating than a hungry dog looking at an empty bowl.

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?
Goodness, yes! My characters’ lives and moods can affect me very much. In one book a favourite character finally realises her husband has gone forever and it reminded me of losing loved ones. I sobbed with her – and still do when I reread that page. I wouldn’t say my mood affects my characters as it would not make me a very good writer to have my life affect my writing. However, I lean heavily on personally experiences when writing emotional scenes. Dredge up my feeling from that time and have my girls feel sadness or joy.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

1. Don’t give up. It’s a hard profession and not as glamorous as some make out.

2. It’s all about the story telling. If your grammar and spelling is not so good you can learn but always tell a good tale.

3. Don’t believe your own PR.

Which authors inspire you?
I know so many wonderful authors through the Romantic Novelists’ Association that I find this hard to answer. However, looking back to books that made me want to be a writer I’d have to say Barbara Cartland for her sparkling romantic novels, Saga writer Dee Williams for her down to earth stories and showing this writer, during one wonderful course at Writers’ Holiday in Caerleon, that sagas was the genre she wished to write and also Milly Johnson for her wonderful romcoms.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished the final chapter of a wonderful saga, The Gunner Girl (Simon and Schuster) by Clare Harvey. The story gripped me from beginning to end and at the moment the characters are still alive to me. I’m looking forward to reading the author’s next book.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
This is an extremely interesting question as The Woolworths Girls does have a soundtrack to the book. Music plays an important part in my stories and my characters sing or dance their way through the book to memorable songs of the war years. A section at the end of the book shows these songs and my own memories of my family singing at parties and get-togethers. So that opening song... It would have to be I’ll See You in my Dreams. My favourite version is by Joe Brown. The haunting lyrics resonate as my girls dream of their loved ones far away.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
The actress, Sheridan Smith, would be ideal to play Maisie, one of my Woolworths Girls. With an outgoing and bubbly personality Maisie was the girl everyone loved who didn’t seem to let life get her down until...

What is your next book about?
The Butlins Girls is at the editing stage and will be published in the spring of 2017. It is 1946 and war is over. Billy Butlin has taken back his holiday camps which have been used to hold and train troops during the war. With a lick of paint they are ready within weeks and amongst the new Red Coats is Molly from Kent who is running away from her past and into the arms of the man of her dreams, matinee idol Johnny Johnson.

And now think about the books you've read and just give the first one that
comes into your head for our quickfire 'Which book round.'


Which book has made you:
Laugh out loud? Here Come The Girls – Milly Johnson
Cry your heart out? Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Want to read it again? Too many to mention.
Think more? The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
Wish it would be made into a film? The Trouble With Goats and Sheep
Shocked? Fifty Shades of Grey – because I couldn’t understand the hype.
Scared? It - Stephen King

Thank you so much for joining us on our blog today and good luck with the
book.

To read our review of The Woolworths Girls please click here.
Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Elaine Everest
Hello, welcome to my author page. I was born and brought up in the North West of Kent and love to write stories set around Erith and Slade Green - places I know so well. It is heartwarming to know that many people look back with fondness to the town, the people and a life long gone.

Twenty years ago I moved a few miles away from Erith and now live in Swanley with my husband, Michael, and Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, where I write nostalgic stories set in and around the county.

Follow me:
Facebook: Elaine Everest Author page
Twitter: @elaineeverest
My writing school: www.thewriteplace.org.uk

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