Cover Reveal Day for Heartbreak in the Valleys

It’s time for Francesca to introduce the cover of her debut saga novel

I’m totally thrilled to be able to reveal the cover for Heartbreak in the Valleys today.
















I’m really pleased with the cover my publisher, Hera Books, has produced for me. It certainly catches the essence of the beautiful, brooding Welsh valleys.

It’s also newly available for pre-order as an ebook from several outlets:

Amazon                                                                                                                                                                                 Kobo                                                                                                                                                                                       Apple

Later in the year, it’ll be available as an audio book from Ulverscroft

More about the book and its genesis on this blog on publication day, June 10th.

Heartbreak in the Valleys

Anwen Rhys is devastated when her fiancé, Idris Hughes, ends their engagement. Discharged due to ill health from his Pal’s Brigade in the Great War, Idris finds it hard to come to terms with his untimely return to the mining village in the Valleys.

Set against a backdrop of loss and poverty, everyone in the village of Dorcalon is struggling. Coping with this burden, along with a drunk father, bedridden mother and ailing sister, Anwen takes up the position of maid in the mine manager’s house. Here she meets his daughter, the feisty Elizabeth. With her encouragement they start an allotment scheme to grow vegetables for the village, striving to combat the dire food shortage. Encouraged by their success, Anwen draws Idris in, hoping to lift his melancholy and help him integrate back into village life.

But both Anwen and Idris have gained enemies in the community, and it isn’t long before invisible forces gather to bring them down. Can they fight this together, or will mounting family difficulties destroy them?

Come and find me on:




The Perfect Day

Francesca and Elaine are thrilled to have Fenella Miller as our guest on The Write Minds Blog today chatting about her perfect day.

My perfect day would begin after an unbroken night’s sleep, one where I hadn’t had to get up three or four times to take painkillers or go to the loo and hadn’t been woken by my cat pouncing on my feet at four o’clock in the morning. I would have dreamed of riding along a deserted beach with Sean Bean for company. He would be in the persona of Richard Sharpe of course.

Fully rested, showered and dressed I would wander into the garden to listen to the dawn chorus before going inside to prepare a breakfast of croissant and real coffee. For medical reasons I haven’t had coffee or croissant for years.

I would then sit in front of my computer and dictate three thousand words of what is going to be the next bestseller without having once to stop and rummage through a dozen researchbooks to check a fact or three.

I would then drive to my husband’s care home, it would be sunny and warm, he would be waiting in his electrified wheelchair for me to take him for a walk along the promenade and then to a small outside café where he would enjoy a coffee and cake. More often than not it’s raining, he won’t be ready when I turn up and then the foot rests will fall off his wheelchair whilst we are out. Obviously, at the moment all I have is a few minutes face time on weekdays which breaks my heart.

On my return home at around two o’clock I’d have a delicious lunch sitting in the garden in the sunshine. After editing what I’d written the morning, I’d deal with social media where all my posts would be witty and upbeat and all my emails would be full of good news.

There would be cricket to watch on the television and England would be winning – of course – and I’d have a new Bernard Cornwall or Lee Child book to read over supper sitting in the garden once again. My son would ring discuss what we would be doing on our family day together – Sunday. After deadheading and watering, I’d watch television – Chicago Fire, The Good Doctor or The Rookie and head for bed around nine o’clock pleasantly tired and confident I’d not wasted my day.

  • I love to spend time with my husband and family. I also am a cricket fanatic so if England is playing anywhere in the world then I’ll be watching that, usually whilst reading a thriller or historical.
  • The only good thing about my enforced self-isolation is that I’ve got as much time as I want to write. I’ve just written a Regency and sent it for a professional proof read and from start to finish it took twenty-four days. Tomorrow I’ll start the third and final book in my current Regency series, The Reluctant Duke. I’m hoping to have time to write a Christmas Regency before I have to start the next book for my publisher which has to be in on October 11th. Two weeks ago I handed in the first of my new series, Girls in Blue, three stand-alone books about friends working in different sections of the WAAF.
  • Success for me is knowing that thousands of people enjoy reading my books – that I give happiness to so many with what I do. I’ll never be a bestseller, I’m a mid-list author, but I’m happy with that.

Thank you,  Fenella, for sharing your wonderful day with us today.  Read below about Fenella’s final instalment  of the Spitfire Girl series.

All’s fair in love and war for First Officer Ellie as she takes to the skies yet again in the final instalment of Fenella J Miller’s Spitfire Girl series.

1943, White Waltham. 

As Italy surrenders and victory looms on the horizon, Ellie’s doing what she does best – flying. And this time, she’s rising to the sky in four-engined Halifaxes. Determined to keep doing her bit, Ellie’s successes in the airfield mount but so do tensions with her new beau, Squadron Leader Jack Reynolds.

When Ellie and Jack find their dream home, they discover they’ve bought more than they bargained for. With a cellar full of secrets, Jack and Ellie must stand united in the face of mystery, war and loss. And as family circumstance threatens to tear them apart, Ellie and Jack are stronger than ever.

Amazon Link: The Spitfire Girls: Over and Out

Fenella J Miller was born in the Isle of Man. Her father was a Yorkshire man and her mother the daughter of a Rajah. She has worked as a nanny, cleaner, field worker, hotelier, chef, secondary and primary teacher and is now a full time writer.
She has over fifty Regency romantic adventures published plus four Jane Austen variations, four Victorian sagas and eight WW2 family sagas. She lives in a small village in Essex with her British Shorthair cat. She has two  adult children and three grandchildren.



Summer by the Seaside in the Seventies

With everyone being confined to home, Francesca gives you an opportunity to escape to the seaside for a short while. And there’s a chance to win a copy of her latest pocket novel.

Last week saw the publication of my latest pocket novel, Desperately Seeking Doreen, set  in Littlehampton in 1972 .  The idea for the novella came from my own teens. In the summer of ’72 I was fourteen-years-old, working the summer holidays in my dad’s restaurant (The Blue Sea in the story), which is under five minutes walk to where my main character, Jackie’s, (imaginary) guest house is situated. A large number of the tall, red brick Victorian houses on South Terrace, opposite the sea, were guest houses. Some still are. Jackie works part time at the funfair, which I don’t name but was in fact owned by Butlins at that time.

Jackie Harris has just moved from Suffolk to Sussex with her parents, who have decided to open up a guest house, the Mare Vista. She’s left her boyfriend, Adrian, behind, so she doubts she’ll stay, wanting mainly to make sure her parents settle in first. Then an interesting guest, artist Scott Grant, comes to stay for a few weeks. But when she discovers he’s not doing much painting and is doing a lot of creeping around, she begins to wonder what his real intentions are…

What do I remember about 1972? Going to the funfair after work with my friends, feather cuts, flares, cheesecloth, platforms, reggae, stomping my feet to Slade records at the Wednesday disco held at the United Services Club and going to my cousin’s shop to buy yet another hit single. Among many other things.

What do you remember of the early 70s?

There’s an opportunity to win a copy of Desperately Seeking Doreen by answering one of two simple questions on my Facebook Author Page. Just click the link and scroll down to the post with the photo of the pocket novel. Good luck!

A few memories of some of the settings from Desperately Seeking Doreen from the late sixties and early seventies… *

View of Pier Road from West Beach with its cafes and the beginning of South Terrace, where Jackie’s guest house is situated.

View along the River Arun to Pier Road. Butlins funfair building, where Jackie works, can be seen on the far right.

West Beach, where Jackie spends a day with her friend Val. They take the small ferry, which is how I used to get there with my friends. (Yes, that’s me!)

The walk along the River Arun to Arundel that Jackie and Scott take. I often took this walk with my parents. That’s me again, with my mum

Jackie and Scott visit Arundel and take a trip round the castle, a popular trip with my family. Elaine and I enjoyed a day out here last year.

Swanbourne Lake in Arundel Park where Jackie and Scott hire a boat.

1972 in the ‘Blue Sea Restaurant’ (actually called The Mediterranean). That’s me on the left and in the middle, my friend Val (sadly missed)

*All photos copyright of Francesca Burgess.

Find me on Twitter

Jeevani Charika’s publication day for A Convenient Marriage

Taking a look at Jeevani Charika’s new novel, A Convenient Marriage, and thinking about evocative food.

It was the perfect marriage… until they fell in love.

Chaya is a young woman torn between her duty to family and her life in the UK. While her traditional Sri Lankan parents want her to settle down into marriage, what they don’t know is that Chaya has turned away the one true love of her life, Noah, terrified of their disapproval.

Gimhana is hiding his sexuality from his family. It’s easy enough to pretend he’s straight when he lives half a world away in the UK. But it’s getting harder and harder to turn down the potential brides his parents keep finding for him.

When Chaya and Gimhana meet, a marriage of convenience seems like the perfect solution to their problems. Together they have everything – friendship, stability and their parents’ approval. But when both Chaya and Gimhana find themselves falling in love outside of their marriage, they’re left with an impossible decision – risk everything they’ve built together, or finally follow their heart?

Want to read more? Jeevani’s novel is available from 12th November on several platforms, click here to order it.


In her novel, one of the ways Gimhana shows he cares is by cooking for Chaya. Jeevani posed the question as to whether there was a food that evoked a particular memory for me.

I’d have to say spaghetti with lamb ragù. As a child, my Italian father would cook the main meal about once a week. He was a good cook, taught by his mother, and his speciality was the spaghetti with ragù. His secret was to simmer the sauce for hours on end. The whole house would be filled with the deep aroma of tomatoes, lamb, onion and garlic. Despite many attempts at cooking the meal myself, I’ve never quite been able to emulate the succulent taste of his wonderful sauce. Maybe one day!

Another food that evokes memories is Welsh cakes, baked by my mother when I was a child, but I’ve already talked about those here.

Do the readers have any foods that evoke memories? Tell us about them below.

Thank you for your question,  Jeevani,and I hope A Convenient Marriage is a great success.


Guest Author Rosemary Goodacre On Her Saga, Until We Meet Again

We welcome back writer Rosemary Goodacre, whose World War 1 saga is out today

Hello Rosemary and thank you for visiting the Write Minds blog with your new book Until We Meet Again.

Hello, Francesca and Elaine, thank you for welcoming me to the Write Minds Blog.

What led you to writing about World War 1 as opposed to another period in time?                               

I suppose it was all the media interest as the centenary came up. My grandparents could remember the Great War, yet in many ways it seems like another world.

With the novel being set over a hundred years ago, what kind of research did you have to undertake?                                                                                                                                                   

I read memoirs from the time. There was also a wonderful film called They Shall Not Age, which was reprocessed documentary WWI film with colour added. There was even dialogue, which they had constructed from the original speech, with the help of lipreaders. You could get a vivid impression of the hardship the men actually encountered in the trenches.

How do you come up with characters and are they ever inspired by real people

Sometimes real people give me an idea for a character, though they may need adapting to have the outlook people would have had at the time: for example, at least at the beginning of the war, women had much less freedom. Sometimes a fictional character who was inspired by a real person suddenly takes over and insists on setting off in a different direction!

Which character from the book have you most enjoyed writing?                                       

The hero and heroine, Edmond and Amy, became brave, inspiring people when their world suddenly became so dangerous and challenging. I kept thinking of the men who somehow managed to joke and sing, even in the trenches.

How did you get started in writing?                                                                                                         

I’ve written stories for many years, and sometimes become immersed in entire novels. I started going to classes and gradually became more serious about getting published. The occasional early success with a short story boosted my morale. I like to think I’ve become more professional as the years have passed.

How do you organise your writing day?                                                                                                        I allocate some dedicated writing time so I don’t get bogged down in domestic distractions or too involved in leisure pursuits. I’ll have put together an outline of the story to start with, and done some preliminary research, so I’ll charge ahead with the whole story and then go back to see what needs correcting or improving.

What can your readers look forward to next?                                                                                   

I’m working on a sequel to Until We Meet Again, so I’m hoping Amy and Edmond will be back before long!

We’re so glad you could drop by to talk to us. All the best with Until We Meet Again.

It’s been lovely visiting your site, thank you so much for having me as your guest.


Until We Meet Again

The Great War drove them apart – but love kept them together

Summer 1914: Shy young woman, Amy Fletcher, lives a quiet life in Sussex. An office worker, she lives at home, along with her parents and spirited younger brother, Bertie. But her life is transformed when she meets handsome young man, Edmond Derwent, son of one of the wealthiest families in the small town of Larchbury, and student at Cambridge University.

The couple are falling deeply in love when war breaks out and, eager to do his duty for England, Edmond signs up as an officer. The couple plan to be wed, eager to start a new life together – but their happiness is short-lived when Edmond is sent to Flanders to lead his men into battle. Amy trains as a VAD nurse and is soon sent to France, where she sees the true horror of war inflicted on the brave young men sent to fight.

Separated by war, Edmond and Amy share their feelings through emotional letters sent from the front line. But when Edmond is critically wounded at Ypres, their love faces the biggest test of all – can their love stay strong while the world around them is crumbling?

A romantic, emotional saga set in WW1 – readers of Rosie Goodwin, Katie Flynn and Val Wood will be captivated by this story of love.

Until We Meet Again can be purchased on:                                                                                              Amazon                                                                                                                                                                    Apple                                                                                                                                                                                    Kobo

About Rosemary Goodacre                                                                                               

Rosemary Goodacre has previously worked in computing and teaching. She has had short stories published and a novella, A Fortnight is not Enough.

Her father’s family came from continental Europe and she loves travelling.
She enjoys country walking, bridge and classical music. She lives with her husband in Kent, England.

You can find Rosemary on Facebook and Twitter


Read more about  Until We Meet Again by following the tour:

Café Life and Ice Cream

Francesca looks at how growing up in cafés between the Fifties and Seventies has influenced her novels, as she continues the series inspired by The Great British Bake Off. And there’s ice cream!

After a day working at the cafe as a teen

All writers are bound to be influenced by their own upbringings, and it’s certainly true of me. The first novel I ever wrote was a YA called Sea Angel. The main character in it was fourteen-year-old Morwen. Although her fortunes and failures weren’t mine, and I didn’t have to live over the place like she did, we naturally had much in common. That included youthful resentment at having to work in the business in our spare time.

I pictured Morwen’s café to look much like our own, even if I did lift it out of Littlehampton and place it in an imaginary Sussex village called Littlebay. Recently it has featured again in both a 1970s pocket novel I’ve written and in a saga I’ve begun set in 1914, where it remains firmly in Littlehampton.

The Mediterranean in the early 60s, circled.

The business in Littlehampton (incongruously called The Mediterranean), was a seaside restaurant serving (in my humble opinion) some of the best fish and chips I’ve ever tasted. It also sold pork and lamb chops, sausages, ham, eggs, spam and spam fritters (remember those?) in different combinations with chips and a choice of beans or peas. There were also ham or cheese salads and roast beef and two veg. Over the years the menu changed little, being what the day trippers desired during the Sixties and Seventies.

View from the Mediterranean of the River Arun

The fish was delivered fresh every day from a local fishmonger. I recall a long-time chef we employed boning the cod and plaice with great skill. There was certainly nothing frozen. The kitchen housed two large fryers into which were melted huge blocks of lard. In the basement was a peeling machine that removed the skins before the potatoes were chipped. This was originally done by a type of guillotine hand slicer, then later on an electric chipper. They were then part fried and kept in an industrial sized fridge in the basement until needed. Twice fried chips before they were even a thing!

For dessert you could choose between peaches and/or ice cream, chocolate gateau, apple pie and cheesecake. We also served up a very nice frothy coffee (in the days before there were myriad variations) and strawberry, chocolate or pineapple milkshakes, made with ice cream.

The Criterion in the early 70s had a name change

Regrettably, there was never time to bake our own cakes, though we did get them delivered from a nice patisserie.  Further back, when my father had The Criterion café in Worthing, there was a time when he made his own ice cream. I never thought to ask Dad what his recipe was, though I do recall him saying it involved large cans of condensed milk.

Me, circa 1959, outside the Criterion.

This café, where I spent the first three years of my life (especially since we did live over this one), was more a snack based eating establishment. It used to open from nine in the morning till eleven at night, the evenings attracting the café youth culture of the Fifties.

The Criterion featured in a 1950s series I had published in The People’s Friend called Happy Days at the Criterion. It tells of the meeting and romance between Gwen and Renzo, based on how my own parents met and got together.

A busy evening at the Criterion, c1958

Back in the early 90s, I acquired an electric ice cream making machine. I think these days they’re much easier to use, but back then you had to keep adding combinations of salt and ice to the outside layer and the whole process was a real pain. It made me wonder what kind of effort Dad had expended in making it by hand. I persisted with the machine and made many different flavours of ice cream over the decade. One of my favourites has to be brown bread ice cream.

Brown bread ice cream originated in the Georgian era. It seems to have made a bit of a comeback recently, though I first tasted it in a restaurant in Lincoln over thirty years ago. It was this that prompted me to try making my own, once I took possession of my machine.

It’s been many years since I gave up on the contraption, but I still have the recipe for the brown bread ice cream, which I make occasionally now by hand.

Brown Bread Ice Cream

450ml milk
1 vanilla pod or 3 drops of essence
4 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
50g dry brown breadcrumbs
150ml double cream

Ice cream dishes and a tablecloth I kept from the Mediterranean

Put the milk and vanilla into a heavy-based saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and stand for ten minutes. Remove vanilla pod and reheat to simmering.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until thick and pale yellow. Gradually pour the hot milk into the eggs, stirring continually. Strain into a heavy-based or double saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the custard thickens enough to cover the back of a spoon. Do not boil. Allow the mixture to cool and place in a freezer for one-and-a-half hours, until mushy.

Gently toast the breadcrumbs under a low grill, turning them to ensure they toast evenly. Put aside to cool.

Beat the cream to form soft peaks. Fold the cream and breadcrumbs into the frozen custard and freeze. Beat the mixture after one hour, then seal and freeze.



The Mediterranean was sold in 1981 and for a time became a  burger bar. It eventually returned to being a fish and chip restaurant called Osca’s. It looks very different to when we had it, but I’m pleased to report that their fish and chips, tried recently by Elaine and me, are excellent and I recommend a visit if you’re in Littlehampton.


Francesca’s latest novel, Heartbreak in the Valleys, a Great War saga set in Wales, will be published June 10th 2020 and is available for pre-order.

Francesca’s Twitter

Francesca on Facebook

Danger for Daisy

Old School Cooking

It’s Elaine’s turn to be inspired by The Great British Bake Off and write about the food/recipes that can appear in our historical novels.

My Nan

I have been looking at a copy of my Nan’s Radiation Cookery Book, she passed away nearly fifty years ago but her cookery book is still passing on words of wisdom.

It made me wonder if it was the type of cookery book that should still be used today. It starts by explaining some basic terms such as braise, stew, grill, boil, steam, roast and bake. It has measurements and temperatures in the front but before all of that it has pictures of cookers. It made me wonder if anybody would remember their parents, grandparents or even great grandparents using these cookers, which are a far cry from their modern counterpart

The book talks about making stocks and, much to my delight, boiling the bones of a chicken or turkey. This was one of my favourite meals, and one I have done repeatedly for my own children.

Recipe for Chicken Broth curtsey of  The Radiation Cookery Book, 1956 edition.


My Nan’s Cookbook

The carcase and trimmings of a chicken OR 6 chicken-necks and 2 or 3 giblets
2 pints of water
1oz of rice OR pearl barley
1 onion
1 stick of celery
6 peppercorns
Blade of mace
1 teaspoonful chopped parsley


Break up the carcase of the chicken, or if chicken necks and giblets are used, scald and cut them up. Put the pieces into a large saucepan with water, rice or barley (well washed) and the onion, celery, salt, peppercorns and mace. Bring to boiling point, then simmer for 2 hours. Strain and reheat the liquor. Add more seasoning if required and lastly the chopped parsley just before serving.

My own recipe differs slightly because I leave everything in the pan and remove as many of the bones as I can. I add diced potatoes, peas and anything else I can think of, so mine is more like a stew that comes with a health warning about any small bones that might still be in there. Is this something you make, or have made? Did you eat it as a child?  As I said it’s one of my favourite meals.

I thought I would just leave you with a picture of some of the old style cookers from the book. Happy baking.

Welsh Cakes and Childhood

With Bake Off beginning again next week, the Write Minds pair look at food, starting this week with Francesca’s memories of Wales and Welsh cakes. 

With The Great British Bake Off starting again this week (hooray!), Elaine and I have been talking about food. It’s certainly a good way to evoke a period of time in a novel or short story. When I wrote my (yet unpublished) historical novel, Heartbreak in the Valley, set in the Wales in 1915/16, I took some time to research the food eaten and its availability in those years.

One of the popular foods in Wales then, as now, was of course Welsh cakes, also known as bakestones or griddle cakes. My main character, Anwen, makes them during the course of the novel. She tells her mamgu (grandmother), “I’m just preparing some bakestones. I managed to find some flour at the back of the larder not used since Mam’s been ill. Think it’s still alright. I saved some margarine and currants and an egg, and there’s a bit of milk left.” Food was getting scarcer by the end of 1915, so the bakestones would have been quite a treat.

Doris and Gwilym loved a day out with a picnic.

The insertion of this small domestic detail was prompted by my own childhood, as my mum, herself Welsh, often made them when I was a child. Would it be biased to say that they still rate as the best I’ve ever tasted?

Though only five at the time, I recall when she bought the griddle in Cardiff market. We were staying in Merthyr Tydfil with our cousins, Doris and Gwilym, and were visiting Cardiff, where Mum was brought up, for the day. Another memory I have of that holiday is visiting Merthyr market on several occasions. They made and sold Welsh cakes there and the delicious aroma of them used to fill the market. They also sell them in Cardiff market these days and they smell divine, though I don’t recall if they sold them back then.

Cardiff Market (with my grandson walking past!)

When Mum died, thirty-five years ago, I kept that old cast-iron griddle. It had got rusty over the years and eventually I had to buy a new one. It’s not quite the same, with its non-stick surface, but it does the job. I’m now the Welsh cake baker in the family. Making them always takes me back in turn to our 1950s galley kitchen and the markets of Cardiff and Merthyr.

The recipe for Welsh cakes I use

8oz (225g) self-raising flour

4oz (110g) butter

1 egg


A little milk

Griddle (or a heavy

frying pan if you don’t have one)

Rub butter and flour together to make breadcrumbs. Add sugar and sultanas. Add the egg and mix until it forms a ball of dough. A little milk may be needed if it’s too dry.

Roll out dough to around ¼ inch / 5mm and cut with a round fluted cutter.

On the griddle rub butter and get rid of excess. Heat up griddle and place the Welsh cakes on it. Give them a couple of minutes a side, until they’re nicely browned.

Remove from the griddle and dust with caster sugar while warm.

I often add a little mixed spice or cinnamon. These days there are a lot of variations. When I visited Cardiff market with my daughter and grandson a few years back we bought quite a selection including chocolate and lemon!


There are lots of tasty variations of Welsh cakes here

If you’re visiting Cardiff, the market is well worth a visit: Cardiff Market

Heartbreak in the Valleys, will be published June 10th 2020 and is available for pre-order.

Francesca’s Twitter

Francesca on Facebook


Guest Author Elaine Everest On Her New Saga, The Teashop Girls

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:

Guest Tania Crosse talks about The Street of Broken Dreams

Historical novelist Tania Crosse tells us what inspires her novels

With fourteen historical novels under my belt, I am often asked where I get so many ideas from. I often wonder myself, but it does appear that I have been blessed with an exceptionally fertile imagination. I even have the occasional totally unexpected flash vision that gets my mind working. But as an experienced author, I’m also well aware of the ingredients that make for a magical novel, and much of that requires a great deal of thought and exercising of the old grey matter. Engaging characters with natural dialogue, a gripping story with sub-plots that weave around the main theme, maybe a secret or an adversary, and most definitely oodles of inner conflict are all essential.

My main source of inspiration, however, is a mix of location and personal experience. Each of the ten books in my Devonshire series set out to illustrate in fictional form different aspects of the fascinating history of West Dartmoor and the surrounding area. I simply allowed myself to imagine what it would really have been like to scrape a living from the moor in the past, but the savage beauty of the moor itself is part and parcel both of my characters and the passions that shape them.

The same is true of the new Twentieth Century sagas I have now written for Aria Fiction. The first mini series comprising Nobody’s Girl and A Place to Call Home was inspired by a visit to Winston Churchill’s home of Chartwell, where the great man himself spoke to me in a vision. And the two books in my Banbury Street series are definitely inspired by both location and personal experience, as I lived there myself as a small child many decades ago.

The Candle Factory Girl is set in the 1930s and is based around Price’s Candle Factory that was just down the road, although many other childhood memories also came into the story, the creepy railway arches at Clapham Junction Station being one example. My latest release, The Street of Broken Dreams, is set at the end of the Second World War, and as such is much closer to the period when I lived there. I remember well the camaraderie among the neighbours, which I hope to have conveyed in my new tale.

The main plot of what happens to Cissie in the opening prologue was inspired by a true wartime incident which fortunately failed to develop into the terrible ordeal she suffers. The person in question was a nurse making her way home late at night after her shift, but I sought a different reason for the circumstances. I decided to make my main character a dancer walking home after a performance, since dance has been a life-long passion of mine.

I first began ballet classes when I was four years old and living in Banbury Street. Later, we moved to Surrey, and I started at a new dance school. At this point, there was nothing I yearned for more than to attend tap and modern classes as well. Just like Cissie, though, my parents couldn’t afford it.

When I was eleven, we moved again. After a spell at ballroom school, I insisted on returning to ballet, and my mother took me along to Miss Doris Knight’s to assess which grade to start me in. In later years, my mother admitted to astonishment at how much I knew. As for myself, I recognised what a brilliant teacher Miss Knight was, little realising this was to become a life-long friendship.

I studied under Miss Knight until I went to university. I was never going to be good enough to audition for the Royal Ballet School, but I loved my dancing with a passion. Miss Knight only produced a show every two years – but my, were they shows! Her husband, Mr Lightowler, was a conductor. So when it came to the main performance, we were accompanied by a full orchestra at – wait for it – prestigious Wimbledon Theatre. Which is why it features in the book!

I was lucky enough to do three shows with Miss Knight. I was seventeen at the final one, and danced the role of The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Miss Knight choreographed a wonderful solo for me. I remember leaping across the stage to a dramatic score, black cloak swirling around me. I felt as if I was flying, putting everything I had into that dance, and received a roaring applause. That moment was the pinnacle of my dance career, so I know exactly how Cissie feels when she performs to Tristan and Isolde in the book – even though her career continues to flourish and mine did not!

After university, I returned to Miss Knight’s for three years until my husband’s job took us sixty odd miles away to live in the country. My one and only regret was having to leave Miss Knight’s. However we corresponded regularly for over thirty years. When I began writing, she was a huge fan and bought every one of my books.

Sadly, in her late eighties, she was diagnosed with Parkinsons. She knew I hoped one day to write a novel about a dancer set possibly in the 1940s, and told me all about her wartime experiences in a repertory company which inspired Cissie’s career in my story. I so wish she had been alive to read it for herself, but her friendship and all that she taught me will remain in my heart forever.

My own ballet days are long over, although peek through the window and you might catch me spinnning a few posé turns across the kitchen floor. So throw into the melting pot my love of dance and the street where I lived, and sprinkle with imagination dust, and you will see why The Street of Broken Dreams is probably closer to my heart than anything I have written before.


A Street of Broken Dreams

Summer 1945. The nation rejoices as the Second World War comes to an end but Banbury Street matriarch, Eva Parker, foresees trouble ahead.

Whilst her daughter, Mildred, awaits the return of her fiancé from overseas duty, doubts begin to seep into her mind about how little she knows of the man she has promised to marry. Or are her affections being drawn elsewhere?

Meanwhile, new neighbour, dancer Cissie Cresswell, hides a terrible secret. The end of the conflict will bring her no release from the horrific night that destroyed her life. Can she ever find her way back?

Under Eva’s stalwart care, can the two young women unite to face the doubt and uncertainty of the future?

Thank you for visiting us, Tania, and good luck with your latest novel