We welcome Elaine Everest once more to give us an insight into her brand new series set in Ramsgate
Hello Elaine and thank you for visiting Write Minds once again with your latest novel.
Hello, Elaine & Francesca, thank you for inviting me. It’s always a thrill to be back with the Write Minds girls.
First off, where did the idea for The Teashop Girls come from? I feel as though the idea has been with me forever. As you both know I’m a fan of teashops and from my teenage years I can recall visiting Lyon’s Corner House in London although by then it was nothing like the days of the Nippies. I feel that was in my mind when I wanted to write about The Little Ships and how Ramsgate and Margate played a big part in bringing our lads back from Dunkirk. Ramsgate was a favourite holiday destination for my family when I was young. Gradually the ideas blended together until I had a plot. I always seem to have a stock of ideas – I just need to write faster!
Did you enjoy having a change of scenery from inland Erith to the Kent seaside? Your question made me smile as I’d never thought of Erith as being inland. As it is on the side of the River Thames, and not far from Kent’s seaside towns I’ve always thought of living near water and so the River Thames was a big part of my life and that of my Woolworths and Butlins stories.
It is lovely to be setting a story in a seaside town even if it is back in 1940.
Lyons tearooms seem to have finally closed in 1981, yet your descriptions are quite detailed. Did you ever visit one, and if not, where did you glean all your fabulous information? Yes, as I mentioned above, I recall the self-service Corner Houses in London. I’d love to have taken tea in a ‘proper’ Lyons Teashop but by the time I was old enough to eat cake the old-fashioned teashops had disappeared. My research was done online asking people for their memories, although some of this was second hand as those who replied spoke of their parent’s memories. There are a couple of detailed books available about the Lyons industry, with the teashops playing just a small part of the empire. Old photographs are a great way to find details of interiors of teashops and the lives of the Nippies. I have a copy of a wartime menu – such lovely choices of food – and snippets of information about how the Nippies wore their gas masks and ‘made good marriages’ were just perfect gifts for my stories. However, in my story the girls were frowned upon by their stern manageress from dallying at the tea table talking to young men!
In your novel, Lyons provided food for the soldiers returning from Dunkirk during the evacuation. Is this a true detail or created for the novel?
It was a true fact that many businesses provided for the troops as they landed around the coast. I’m not sure the Nippies turned out in their uniforms but I thought that it would add a little colour to my story!
A few years back we all visited the tunnels at Ramsgate, which were fascinating. How much did this visit influence your storyline? I’d known about the tunnels since my childhood. A landlady at one of the guesthouses where my family stayed had told of going down them during the war. When I heard that the tunnels were open to the public I was there like a shot and have been back many times since as they’ve opened more parts of the tunnels and expanded the museum information. It was fun to visit the tunnel with both of you as we all absorbed the information as writers rather than tourists. It was a lovely afternoon.
Rose in the novel loves to sing. Do you have some favourite songs from that era? I do love a good old-fashioned song from past years. For my Woolworths books it was more ‘knees up’ and Vera Lynn. For The Teashop Girls I wanted to show a different kind of music. I spent an age watching YouTube and trying to find music that Rose would like. I came across an American singer, Helen Forrest who sang with the big bands of the time and I fell in love with her music. It was a lightbulb moment as I knew this would be Rose’s favourite singer who she would like to emulate. This was late at night and I woke my husband up to inform him that I finally ‘knew’ who Rose was. I don’t think he was impressed!
Which character was the most interesting to write? I love my three main characters but as any author knows it is the secondary cast that can carry the book. As my books are usually about a group of friends, I planned them carefully and gradually the others materialised. Anya was a delight to write and I have big plans for her in coming books. However, it was Mildred Dalrymple, a resident at Sea View guesthouse who surprised me. She was only supposed to walk into the kitchen for her dinner and she grew and grew in importance. She was a gift!
Is this the end of Rose, Lily and Katie’s story, or will we be hearing more from the teashop girls? There will be other books about the Teashop Girls. In fact, I’m about to start the second which should be published towards the end of 2020. I’m looking forward to seeing what life throws at them.
Thank you for visiting us, Elaine, and the best of luck with The Teashop Girls.
Thank you again for inviting me xx
The Teashop Girls
It is early 1940 and World War Two has already taken a hold on the country. Rose Neville works as a Lyon’s Teashop Nippy on the Kent coast alongside her childhood friends, the ambitious Lily and Katie, whose fiancé is about to be posted overseas in the navy. As war creates havoc in Europe, Rose relies on the close friendship of her friends and her family.
When Capt. Benjamin Hargreaves enters the teashop one day, Rose is immediately drawn to him. But as Lyon’s forbids courting between staff and customers, she tries to put the handsome officer out of her mind.
In increasingly dark and dangerous times, Rose fears there may not be time to waste. But is the dashing captain what he seems?
The Teashop Girls is the new book by Elaine Everest, much-loved author of the Woolworths Girls series. Available on Amazon
About Elaine Everest
Elaine Everest, author of bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths, and Wartime at Woolworths was born and brought up in North West Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty-two 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 looms.
When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school at The Howard Venue in Hextable, Kent and has a long list of published students. Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Crime Writers Association, The Society of Women Writers & Journalists and The Society of Authors.
Read more on The Teashop Girls by catching up with the tour: