Time for Tea with Elaine Everest and the Teashop Girls

Today we say hello once again to Elaine Everest, talking about the latest Teashop Girls book, World War 2 and her characters

 

Hello Elaine, and welcome back to the blog with your second ‘Teashop’ novel.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog and being part of the blog tour for Christmas with the Teashop Girls.

You often mention the lovely Forties’ clothes that your characters are wearing. Do you like Forties’ fashion, and where does your research for it come from?

I do like fashions from the forties as despite rationing women always dressed smartly and made the most of what they had. I enjoy reading about women’s clothing from that time and have quite a collection of books, magazines and newspaper cuttings that I refer to – everything from couture designs down to home dressmaking and make do and mend. I even refer to my collection of Woolworths staff magazines. The New Bond is an invaluable source for fashion ideas. I spend far too long reading these publications.

There are a lot of details about Ben’s mill business in the East End, along with the docks. It’s almost like you’ve walked around it yourself. Where did the details come from? Were there photographs of the area to study?

Being born and brought up close to the Thames in Erith I grew up watching life on the river and knowing people who worked in the docks. Dockland wasn’t just in London. When I decided that Ben’s family business required the shipping of grain from Canada, I started to research how the docks worked during the war. I was able to watch Pathe News as well as look at images of that time. I was also fortunate that some of my relatives lived close to Tower Bridge which meant that at time we’d go along the Thames and see the old warehouse that still remained after the devastation of the Blitz. Even in the sixties there was still much to see before the buildings started to be turned into expensive apartments. News reports told of ships containing grain being sunk during the relentless bombing on the first day of the Blitz. I used much of this in my story.

The air raids come thick and fast in the book, set in 1940 as it is. Was it really as bad as that?
1940 was the year the air raids started in earnest after the ‘phoney war’. I pride myself in never inventing an air raid that didn’t exist. My plots have to fit around what happened during the war, and at times I wish there had been something happening in the area where the book is set. For the people of Ramsgate, it was truly horrendous, but thankfully they had the famous Ramsgate tunnels in which to take shelter. It is said that no resident of the town was more than ten minutes from a tunnel entrance. It was the foresight of own mayor, Alderman A. B. C. Kempe, with the backing of the borough council that permission was granted and work on the tunnels began in March 1939 saving thousands of lives.

Anya is an interesting character, fleeing from Poland as she did. Where did you get the idea for her, and her husband Henio?

When Anya popped into my mind it was a gift. She appears in the opening of The Teashop Girls when Flora comes to her rescue with young boys stoning her for being a German. I wanted to show how people in WW2 reacted to anyone with a foreign accent and assume they are the enemy. The invasion of Poland started our involvement in WW2 and for me the Polish have a special place in my heart. Our current resident freeloader, Henry, is a Polish Lowland Sheepdog and through exhibiting him and belonging to breed clubs I got to know some lovely Polish people both online and in person and wanted to depict them in my stories. As for Anya’s husband, Henio – his name is Polish for Henry, so yet again I manged to feed one of my dog’s names into a book.

Some pretty nasty characters pop up in the book (we won’t give away who!). Do you prefer to write about the nice guys or the bad guys?

I love a nasty character! At times it can be quite therapeutic to write a nasty character and see how the main characters react to the person. I do like my Nippies as they are plucky women and tend to fight back when the baddies appear.

Who’s your favourite character in the book?

I do like Mildred as she is a character that calls a spade a spade, come to that so does Anya! In Christmas with the Teashop Girls I have developed Lady Diana’s story and had such fun with her I had to be careful she didn’t take over the book.

We’ve had two outings with the Teashop Girls now. Can we look forward to any more?

I hope we can return to Thanet one day to continue with stories about the Nippies. I would like to tell more of Anya’s story and follow the residents of Ramsgate through the remainder of WW2. In fact, I’ve just purchased a Polish cookery book, and that alone has given me ideas …

What can your readers look forward to next?

Both my books for 2021 are now filed with my publisher. I’m excited to be able to tell Ruby (from the Woolworths Girls series) story of her younger days in A Mother Forever which is on sale in January, for the hardback version, and March for paperback/audio/digital etc. The story starts in 1905 when Ruby moved into her new home in Alexandra Road with such hopes for the future. I hope readers enjoy finding out about Ruby’s early life.
Pre order details here 

Thank you very much for popping in, Elaine, and the best of luck with Christmas with the Teashop Girls.

Christmas with the Teashop Girls

It’s late 1940 and the war feels closer to home than ever for Rose Neville and her staff at the Lyon’s Teashop in Margate. The worry of rationing hangs overhead as the Nippies do their best to provide a happy smile and a hot cup of tea for their customers. When a bombing raid targets the Kent coastline, Lyon’s is badly hit, throwing the future of the cafe into jeopardy.

The light in Rose’s life is her dashing fiancé Captain Ben Hargreaves and she’s busy planning their Christmas Eve wedding. But she must also plan to take two new stepdaughters into her life and get on the right side of her wealthy mother-in-law, Lady Diana. Is Rose ready to become a mother?

When Rose’s half-sister Eileen makes contact, it seems that Rose’s dreams of having a sibling are coming true at long last. But her friends begin to suspect that she’s hiding something… As the wedding draws near, the bombings intensify, putting everything and everyone Rose loves in danger. Only one thing is for sure: it will be a Christmas she never forgets . . .

 Available on Amazon

About Elaine Everest

Elaine Everest is from North West Kent and she grew up listening to stories of the war years in her home town of Erith, which features in her bestselling Woolworths Girls series. A former journalist, and author of nonfiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the women’s magazine market. When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael and sheepdog Henry. You can find out more about Elaine on Twitter @ElaineEverest or Facebook /elaine.everest

Read more about Elaine and Christmas with the Teashop Girls by catching up with her tour:

Setting Out on a Journey

Francesca takes a journey around the settings she’s used so far

At the moment I’m working on a number of projects, and it got me thinking about the different settings I’m using. On the whole I’ve used known settings in my short stories, novels and novellas, though I’m likely to rename them and take liberties. Some of the locations are from my childhood, like Littlehampton, Worthing and Brighton (renamed Costerham, Ording and Telmstone respectively).

Brighton, taken from the Wheel.

Brighton, taken from the Wheel.

Worthing Pier.

Worthing Pier. Something I’m working on currently is set in Worthing, as Worthing, and I hope to have news of that soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there are the settings I’ve discovered through family research like the former mining town of Abertysswg (where my mother was born) and Castle Pill, near Milford Haven, where one of my great-great grandfathers was born. These settings gave me the idea for three short stories, one about someone researching her family (like me!) and two historicals set in 1908 and 1915.

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Some of my ancestors lived in Castle Pill, somewhere around this field, as far as I can tell.

Abertysswg, all evidence of the coal mines invisible these days. My mother was born in a house in the middle terrace on the hill.

Abertysswg, all evidence of the coal mines invisible these days. My mother was born in a house in the middle terrace on the hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A novella set in ‘Telmstone’ also has a section set in Rome. I’ve visited there three times and had longed to use it in my writing. And what could be a more passionate setting for a romance?

Newcastle: two of my characters stood on Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

Newcastle: two of my characters stood on Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

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Piazza della Rotunda in Rome, with the Pantheon in the background. A bustling setting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My stories have taken me on excursions to many other places, including Skye, Margate, Brixham, Newcastle and the coast of Ceridigion. Of all the settings I’ve used, the only one I haven’t known or visited, as far as I’m aware, is Brisbane, where I relied on Google and Google Earth for information. Having had a good look at it, I’d love to visit there some time in the future.

Brixham Miracles 2008

Brixham: my daughter and brother-in-law are on the dinghy. This inspired two stories

While I’m writing stories in different locations, I often feel I’m actually there. It’s a great way of visiting anywhere you like as you sit at your desk. Or is that just me?

Happy travels.

Do you use settings you’ve visited, or do you write outside of your experience?

@FCapaldiBurgess

 

Time To Escape

Whitstable Coastline

Whitstable Coastline

Last Saturday, four of us, Francesca Capaldi Burgess, Elaine Everest and Natalie Klienman and I descended upon Whitstable, Kent, for a week-long writing retreat. What a wonderful place, it feels untouched by modern life with its small individual shops. Not a chain store in sight. Although the wind was high, the sun was shining and the cottage we rented was lovely and spacious, so finding our own writing space was not difficult.

 

The Old Neptune Pub

The Old Neptune Pub

Two of us were writing an existing work in progress, the third was editing, while the fourth was writing the opening chapter. I’m not sure out of those three options, which are the easiest. As a writer will tell you, the opening chapter is probably the most important one as you need to hook your readers. Personally, I have six versions of my opening chapter where I keep making changes. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of editing. Although, it has to be said I love the result of a finely tuned sentence, scene or chapter.

None of us knew the detail of each other’s stories but every so often someone would ask a question and that would give us an insight into what was being written about. This was followed by calls of “I can’t get on the Internet”, which made us realize how we can’t function without it.

It didn’t take long to settle down to our own way of working, each of us lost in our own worlds. The weather was glorious and the days were broken up with wonderful walks along the beach and that certainly blew the cobwebs away and got the blood pumping round the body, and of course something fishy for lunch; you can’t go to Whitstable and not have fish.

Francesca's Sunset Photo

Francesca’s Sunset Photo

Francesca and Elaine put Natalie and I to shame when we were too cold to walk down to the beach and look at the sunset but Francesca took a lovely photo of it, which I laughingly said I would claim as my own.

Plenty of delicious food passed through our lips and of course the odd glass of wine. On the last day we spent a couple of hours visiting the individual shops that is Whitstable. We came home ladened with fish, cheese and the local ale.

One of Three Posts Near The Margate Train Station

One of Several Posts Near The Margate Train Station

 

We had a day out in Margate where we visited the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery and found places to eat, where they played some fantastic music.

I was very pleased with writing just over ten thousand words, especially as we had the day out. I know the other ladies that write achieved their own goals for the week, so I believe we can call it a success.

It was certainly a worthwhile exercise and one I would be happy to repeat.

@RobertsElaine11