Romantic Novelists' Association

Celebration For The Woolworth Girls By Elaine Everest: Author Interview

2 November 2023

Cover of Celebration for the Woolworth Girls, two women in WW2 dress standing in front of street party decorWe are delighted that you could join us to talk about your new release. Could you tell us a little more about it? Thank you so much for inviting me to the RNA blog. Celebrations for the Woolworths Girls, the 10th in the Woolworths Girls series, starts in 1952 as the country goes into mourning upon the death of King George VI and ends in June 1953 on the day our late Queen Elizabeth II is crowned. Along the way friendships suffer and there is illness amongst regular characters. I do use local history and a major event in this book is the flood at the end of January 1953 when the river Thames breached its bank bringing disaster and loss of life to Essex and North Kent and most of East Anglia. Some of my characters are caught up in events as they escape the flood.

What was the inspiration behind your book? What prompted you to tell this story? Including a novella this is the tenth book in the Woolworths Girls series which started in 1938. We took the staff of Woolworth through the war and due to the popularity of the books I have continued into the 1950s. I was first attracted to writing about the staff who worked in the Erith branch of Woolworths when I was planning my first novel about Sarah Caselton moving to Erith to live with her nan, Ruby when I realised, she would need a job. I visualised the old town of Erith and thought about the businesses that were there in 1938. When Woolworths came to mind, I started to think about my time as a Saturday Girl in 1969 and the story blossomed. Woolworths is such a memorable company that it seemed the ideal place for my girls to meet and work.

Apart from the continuing story of the regular characters I also follow the historical timeline for Woolworths and the area of Erith, in North-West Kent. Historical sagas need to have fiction weaved through history. The day I don’t have any history is the day I stop writing this series

How long did the book take to write? How much re-writing do you normally do? I write two 100,000 words novels each year so have contracted deadline to keep to. Add to that the three editorial stages; structural, copyedits, and proofs to work on life can be hectic at times. However, this is my job and so I do my utmost to be always professional and stick to the schedules I make for my work.

What is your writing day like?  My working day starts with me opening emails and making a list of any requests etc. I check social media and join in with any book promotions. If a book is close to publication, I will have extra work to do as I work with the PR staff at Pan Macmillan to plan radio talks, blogs to answer and the rest of the 101 things a writer is expected to work on.  Once the decks are clear I will aim to write 1,500 words before lunch. After lunch I will tackle any edits that have come in and then aim to write more words. It isn’t unusual for me to work in the evenings, but as I love my job and want to succeed, I’m happy to work the long hours expected of us.

Without giving too much away, what was the hardest part of the book to write? To just write the kind of novel my readers want to read. They have invested in my series of books, and I would hate to disappoint them. I almost killed off a regular character and then decided not to as I’d have been fending off emails and messages telling me off!

Where did your research for the book take you? This question made me chuckle. I envy the authors who set their novels on foreign shores and can take research trips. There again I can spend hours reading non-fiction books – I have hundreds and still collect them. I often visit Bexley Archives, which covers the town where the Woolworths store was situated. Many an hour can be spent going back in time to read about the area. WE are lucky on that the area library also gives talks about the history of the area and I’ve often left the event with fresh stories buzzing in my head.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? My advice to aspiring authors would be to make full use of the RNA, use the Facebook group, watch the online talks and chat with authors who are further on in their careers as they are most knowledgeable. Never feel afraid to talk to the older members as we love to chat and help fellow writers. Apart from that read, read, and keep reading your chosen genre to absorb how successful books are written.

Can you tell us what you are working on now? I’m currently writing ‘The Woolworths Christmas Wish for October 2024 publication. My deadline is the end of November. This will be the 11th in the Woolworths Girls series including a novella.
My publisher’s edit process has not long finished for the March publication of The Teashop Girls at War which is number three in the Teashop series. However, I am already thinking about future pl novels, and notebooks are filling up with ideas

About the Author

Woman with dark hair and yellow top, glassesElaine Everest, author of best-selling series, The Woolworths Girls, and The Teashop Girls, was born and brought up in Northwest Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty-seven years and has written widely for women’s magazines and national newspapers, with both short stories and features. Her non-fiction books for dog owners have been very popular and led to broadcasting on radio about our four-legged friends. Elaine has been heard discussing many topics on radio from canine subjects to living with a husband under her feet when redundancy loomed. Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Crime Writers Association, and the Society of Women Writers & Journalists.

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