I’m delighted to welcome the lovely Elaine Everest to my blog today. She’s here to share with us her much anticipated new release, The Butlins Girls, published by Pan MacMillan.
The Butlins Girls
‘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?
You can buy The Butlins Girls here:
Here’s Elaine’s interview:
Elaine: Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Abbey.
Me: What inspired you to write The Butlins Girls? Where did the idea come from?
Elaine: After writing The Woolworths Girls (Pan Macmillan) I wanted to set my story in the same town of Erith, Kent, where I was born and grew up. I loved the history of the area and know well the kind of people who used to live in the town. However, my character needed to run away to safety. Where could she go? My maternal grandfather came from a family of showman and the family were well known in the fairground world. Sir Billy Butlin was also a showman so his name had always come up in family stories. I’d read his biography and knew that once the Second World War was over he soon opened his holiday camps again. They’d been requisitioned for use by the forces for the duration. Butlins in Skegness opened in May 1946 and that is where Molly went to work as a Butlins Aunty.
If you could be best friends with one of your characters who would it be and why?
I’d like to be friends with Freda. She first appeared in The Woolworths Girls and I knew she’d be the perfect friend for Molly in The Butlins Girls. She adores helping out with the Brownies and Girl Guides, which I did at her age, and is a fiercely loyal chum. If you had Freda on your side you were are lucky person.
If you were stranded on a dessert island, which of your characters would you want with you?
Johnny Johnson! Strong and handsome he’d be able to build a shelter and serenade me with songs from the movies.
Did you bond more with a particular character? Who was it and why?
I needed to bond with my main character Molly as it was important to get under her skin and know how she’d react in any situation. I put her through the mill quite a bit!
What’s your favourite colour?
What’s your favourite food?
Curry, although it could be cake and wine as I’ve consumed so much celebrating the book launch with friends.
What is your typical day like?
As a fulltime writer I like to process all my emails from my editors, agent, publicist etc. before getting stuck into my writing. At the moment it’s full on with the promo for The Butlins Girls. A few more weeks and I can ‘just’ write again. It’s a lovely time to see my latest book go out into the world and experience readers’ reaction.
I like to write 1,000 words a day if possible even if it means writing until the early hours.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
When my dad died in 1997 I decided to stop dreaming of becoming a writer and to do something about it. I’d written ‘bits and pieces’ but planned instead to write short stories for the women’s magazine market – it was more lucrative in those days. I also worked on features for newspapers and magazines, and specialised in canine topics, as I was heavily involved in the dog show world. It worked well with only having to take on a couple of part time temp jobs when the cash flow was slow in the early years. However, I found my time writing fiction becoming less and less as I was commissioned to write books for dog owners and qualified to teach creative writing. Joining the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme was a godsend as it made me concentrate on novels (by then I had a few hidden away that should never see the light of day). The rest is history, as they say!
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
I never stop reading whether it is novels in my genre or crime and thrillers. I’m a big fan of Dick Francis and Dennis Wheatley as well as many authors who are members of the RNA.
What are you writing now?
I’m working on another Woolworths book for publication in May 2018. It’s great to be able to revisit my girls once more. However, there are sad times ahead.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don’t give up! Learn your craft and don’t expect to become published overnight. Listen to everything your piers have to say as they are ahead of you in the profession. Even if you have another career please remember that writing is a job too. Finally enjoy the journey. I love my writing life and wish it had happened earlier.
What’s the hardest part about being an author? And the easiest?
The hardest part is to find the right people to represent you and to find a publisher who appreciates your idea. My agent, Caroline Sheldon, is wonderful. I only have to look at the impressive stable of authors on her website to know that I’m so lucky. She knew where my work was best suited and makes sure I’m a happy author. Pan Macmillan is the ideal home for my work and I thank my lucky stars for the opportunities that have been handed to me.
The easiest? Writing stories. Or, should that be enjoyable?
How do you handle writers’ block?
I don’t have writers block. All my years of writing article and features meant I learnt about deadlines. It taught me to plan and that has helped enormously with writing novels. If I should find that writing a scene is like wading through treacle I’ll simply put it to one side and write something else. Going back to the piece the next day I can see the work through fresh eyes and find that is enough for me to be able to continue.
Have you learned anything from your readers? Or had a response that especially touched you?
Feedback from my readers is invaluable. They tell me what they like and which characters they are attracted to. They will also share their own memories, which is wonderful. Recently I was sent a photograph of a reader’s mother holding a copy of The Woolworths Girls. The lady had been through some health issues and my book was the first she could read from beginning to end without losing concentration. Isn’t that lovely?
Elaine: Thank you for your most interesting questions.
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.