My second post of the day, is a Meet the Author interview with the lovely Elaine Roberts – yay! We’re talking about true love, making her Mum proud, cuddles, laughter, her most recent book, The West End Girls and more….
Historical (Family Saga)
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Thank you for inviting me for a chat, I have my cup of tea and a slice of cake so what more could I ask for except good conversation.
For years I had a dream to write for a living. I completed my first novel in my early twenties and received my first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until I picked it up again in 2010. I joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had my first short story published. I’m very proud of The Foyles Bookshop Girls saga trilogy, which my late husband encouraged me to write. My extended family, and I live in and around Dartford, Kent and pre Coronavirus lockdown my home was always busy with children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting.
How many books have you written and published?
I have written many books and short stories, but the first half a dozen will not see the light of day without a lot of editing. I served my apprenticeship and honed my craft and have four books published. The Foyles Bookshop Girls was the first in a trilogy to be picked up by Aria, Head of Zeus. The latest one The West End Girls came out in June this year, also published by Aria, and I’m just completing the second in that series.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I originally wanted to be a teacher, but when I was fourteen my father got posted abroad and I couldn’t get into school for a year. He was quite old fashioned and thought educating girls was a waste of time because they are only going to get married and have children, so that dream got lost in the mix of everything. Having been brought up in the army I thought I might enlist when I was eighteen but my father said it was no place for any child of his, so that also fell by the wayside. As I’m writing this I’m thinking it all sounds so terrible but it was a different time with different thoughts. My mother was very proud when I got an office job because she didn’t want me working in a factory like she did, now she’s proud and thinks I’m very clever to achieve what I have. That makes me very happy.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
Gosh, I’ve had so many jobs, especially when my children were small. My first job at fourteen was working in the N.A.A.F.I shop, which is the Navy, Army, Air Force Institute in Germany. My last job was working for Local Government as the Technical Support Manager. I introduced new software and collated data for DEFRA. In between those two jobs I’ve done numerous things, cleaning, shop work, party planning (that’s selling Tupperware, beauty products and jewellery in peoples homes), collecting revenue, accounts, and data and statistics. Now I’m technically retired, I’m an author, which I love.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go and why? (Backwards or forwards!)
I wouldn’t go forward in time, unless it’s for the lottery numbers, I don’t really want to know what the future holds. However, I would go back at least five years so I could have my husband back to enjoy his company again. He was sixty-four years old when he unexpectedly passed away on Good Friday 2019 and we, like everyone else, thought we had all the time in the world but we didn’t. I would dearly love to be with him again.
Other than writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
My hobbies are all quite solitary, that sounds quite sad doesn’t it, I grew up in the army and we moved around a lot. As a child I was painfully shy, so I came to rely on myself for my entertainment. I read a lot, but not when I’m writing. I like to crochet as well as doing puzzles or any sort. My next challenge is to learn how to draw; I do admire people that have that talent.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
When I was younger I had very low self-esteem, despite having the figure like Twiggy and good grades at school, so my advice would be to believe in yourself. The future hasn’t happened yet so you can achieve anything you really want with hard work and dedication. There’s great support out there for writers and not just from family and friends. There are organisations like The Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ). Don’t take rejections to heart, just keep learning and submitting.
Oh, and to my sixteen-year-old self, don’t go to that disco in 1972!
What’s your favourite film of all time and why?
This is a hard question, which I will answer but I know once it’s out in the world I’ll be saying “ah, but what about… “ A Wonderful Life is definitely up there. I love the way it shows how we all touch someone’s life without even realising it.
Another memorable film for me is Hacksaw Ridge, sorry I know that’s two films but I did warn you. It’s a war film, but don’t let that put you off because it’s based on a true story. It’s about someone standing up for what he believes in no matter what, it’s about him having faith in God, which doesn’t go down well in the Army. It’s a very powerful film and one I would recommend.
What is the best thing you’ve done in your life so far?
Marrying my second husband was by far the best and bravest thing I’ve ever done, of course that’s outside of having my children. I had no desire to marry a second time to the point that on my wedding day I was quite sick with nerves but he loved me like I have never been loved before, or probably will ever be again. He believed in me and encouraged me to follow my dream to be a writer.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I’m not sure I do. I think there’s the initial attraction, lust maybe, and if someone makes you laugh and cares then the rest follows on from that.
Describe yourself using three words only…….
Caring, loving and hardworking
You win a million pounds – you give half to charity. Which charity do you pick and why? What would you do with the rest of the money?
I would give some to Cancer Research because I have had breast cancer and my husband had Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, which is a form of blood cancer. I would also like to give some for research into dementia because I’ve had first hand experience of what a cruel illness that can be.
The rest of the money I would split between my five children, so they can have an easier life and not worry so much about money.
What is something you can’t live without?
Apart from the obvious things like oxygen and food, I would say laughter and cuddles. This pandemic has shown us all that it’s about the human touch and cuddles. I miss having a cuddle from my children and grandchildren and I’ve come to realise that some people probably never have that, and that saddens me. I do believe laughter is a great healer and is good for everyone so I’ll be glad when things can get back to normal and everyone can stop worrying and start laughing again.
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
This is a difficult question because each can affect the other, and most certainly the story. However, I believe readers invest time and emotion in the characters of a novel; otherwise they wouldn’t care about what happens to them. A story is usually about the characters journey, so I would say strong characters.
What is your favourite time to write, and why?
I’m an early riser so I tend to write first thing in the morning, after I’ve had at least one cup of tea. I have always found there’s morning work and afternoon work, for me that translate to the more complicated the work needs to be done in the morning. When I worked in an office my colleagues used to ask me things and then always follow it up with the question, is that a morning or afternoon job? I thing it stems from growing up in Cyprus and needing an afternoon siesta, unfortunately my bosses never allowed me to indulge in that one.
What makes you want to write a hundred thousand plus words?
I’m a great procrastinator and if I can find an excuse not to start then I will take it. I tend not to think in terms of numbers, it’s daunting; accept when I’m planning my novel. Some days I do struggle to get started but there’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind. I have to say what makes it worthwhile is the feed back from my editor and readers. It’s always lovely to find out you have touched someone’s life by your words, especially when it’s someone you don’t know.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
Growing up on a farm in the country, Annie Cradwell has always dreamt of singing on stage. So when she hears her friend Joyce has a room to spare in London, she sets off with best friend Rose for an adventure beyond anything they could have imagined.
In London, Annie and Rose stumble into jobs at the Lyceum Theatre. Being a dresser to capricious star Kitty Smythe wasn’t exactly what Annie had in mind. But then the musical director, Matthew Harris, offers her singing lessons. And Annie starts to wonder – could this be her chance? Or is it all too good to be true?
With the threat of war in the air, everything is uncertain. Is there a place for hopes and dreams when so much is at stake?
Annie, Rose and Joyce are three girls with very different dreams – but the same great friendship.
Amazon: The West End Girls
Amazon: Author Page
final words from chelle…
Thank you so much Elaine for coming over to talk to us, I hope you enjoyed your tea and cake! You can tell what an absolutely lovely person you are from your interview, and I”m sorry about your Husband – I just wish we really could go back in time for a bit for you. Writing first thing in the morning seems to be quite popular, and I love that you have morning and afternoon jobs – that is such a true thing! It was lovely reading about your army life, although I know it can be tough. My sister lived in Cyprus for a bit when my Brother in Law was in the Army and my gorgeous Nephew was born there! Finally, I love a bit of historical fiction and your books sound wonderful, so will add them to my ever growing wish list!!
If you have any questions or comments for Elaine then get in touch either through the links above or drop a comments below.
Have a wonderful day all and I’ll be back on Friday.