Blog Tour Review and Interview
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?
What others think:
‘Heartwarming . . . a must read’ – Woman’s Own
‘A warm, tender tale of friendship and love’ – Milly Johnson
‘A lovely read’ – Bella
Before I write my review I would like to welcome Elaine Everest to Chellsandbooks which I am very excited about being one of the authors I have been wanting to do a QnA with for some time and here she is!
Please, tell us a little about The Teashop Girls and the idea behind the story?
The Teashop Girls is the first in my new series of World War Two sagas and is set in the Kent seaside town of Ramsgate and Margate where Rose, Lily and Katie work as Nippies in one of Joe Lyon’s teashops. Rose meets and falls in love with a handsome army Captain but there are misunderstandings as the path of true love twist and turns. Her childhood friends also have problems with Katie wishing to marry her sailor fiancé and Lily finding herself in terrible trouble. Rose’s mother, Flora runs the Sea View guest house which is a haven for locals as well as the mysterious Anya.
Characters in your stories often become like family to readers. How much pre-planning do you do regarding your characters?
I have to get to know my main characters long before I write my first words. They have to be different so as not to confuse my readers – or me! I like to see them and know how they would act under any circumstance and then, when I know them, I decide how to throw their lives into turmoil eventually giving them an ending I feel they deserve. Sometimes a character surprises me. One such lady is Mildred, who lives at Sea View guest house. She was only supposed to walk into the kitchen with a packet of fish, but she stepped into the girls lives and became a true friend.
Historical fiction research must be fascinating, what research was needed for The Teashop Girls?
My first task was to make sure I knew enough about the Lyons empire of which the teashops is just a small part. The life of a Nippy, her training and her working day. What about rationing in the teashops during 1940 and also that of the people of Ramsgate. The first part of !940 was very much a phoney war but rumours and planning for what might happen was very much in the forefront of people’s minds on the Home Front. I was able to delve into local history of the time, reading newspapers and non-fiction books of the period. Along with writer friends I visited second hand bookshops in Kent and found so many gems that gave me extra ideas.
I know Ramsgate well because it was where my parents took me and my siblings for our annual holiday back in the early 1960s. It was a thrill to be able to set my story in a place of which I hold such wonderful memories. I visited the Ramsgate Tunnels a while ago and just knew that when I was able, they would feature in my books. If you ever visit Ramsgate, then please take a tour to find out how these tunnels saved hundreds of lives during the height of the war. Then of course there are the Little Ships and the big part they played in bringing our lads home from the beaches of Dunkirk. I’ve studied this momentous event before, but it was a joy to revisit and recall how great our country was when people pulled together.
Do you have a certain place where you like to write and tell us a little about your writing process?
I have a lovely room that holds my books and all my memorabilia from my research as well as my desk. One day it will be straight and there won’t be boxes piled high with ‘things’ I need for my work. Often you will find me working in the kitchen on our large table, again with piles of books and notes and everything required to help me with my latest work in progress.
My writing process is one of thinking, planning an outline, visiting archives, listing required research which gradually gels to the point I can start to write. I’m a planner although my plans are fluid and often change as a write. I work seven days a week but if it happens that I need to be sociable, or I have an appointment, I simply stop work and resume when I return home. The joy of working for oneself means being able to down tools and have a day out if I please. On a daily basis I first go through my emails and post to see if there is any writing related business to complete before I start to write. At the moment I follow the Pomodoro method of writing whereby I set a timer for 25 minutes and write then take a five-minute break. I do this four times and, depending on the number of words written, or how close I am to a deadline I will have another session.
As a teacher of creative writing, what advice would you give to any budding writers? (My dream is to be published, so this is a question I am very interested in)
My advice is first not to expect success with the first thing you write. Read all the time and read as much of the genre you wish to write yourself – especially the bestselling authors. After that just keep writing. You have to love writing and reading and the writing world. Don’t be afraid to fail and try to write any genre that interests you. Good luck!
You are having a tea party and can invite three characters from any of your books, who would you invite? (I know for me 3 invitees would not be enough)
I love a tea party- any excuse for cake! First I would invite Johnny Johnson from The Butlins Girls. Who wouldn’t like a handsome matinee idol to gaze at over the tea table? I do think Ruby from The Woolworths Girls would enjoy a tea party as she so often feeds her family and friends it would be a treat for her to not have to make a cake. Finally, I’d invite Anya from The Teashop Girls. Coming from Poland she could tell us about her home country and give us her views on English cuisine. Anya if a very forthright character so it could be an entertaining meal.
An era in history that I would love to experiences is the Tudor period, as an historical writer is there a period of history you would like to go back and experience.
I would love to experience the first half of the 20th century. The house where Ruby from The Woolworths Girls lives is the house I owned when first married. Built in 1902 that solid bay fronted, three-bedroom terraced house has survived two world wars and so many changes. For twenty years I heard stories of the past residents of Alexandra Road and the town of Erith and it would be great to go back and see it for real. I even know when a bomb dropped making a wall a tad wonky so I could take cover in the air raid shelter!
What are your future projects?
I’m currently finishing another Woolworths book to be published in the Spring of 2020 which has been fun as I get to move on to 1947 and 1948 and see what the girls are up to now that the war is over. After that I will be writing another Teashop book and the ideas are already buzzing around in my head.
Thank you again for appearing on my blog and taking the time to answer these questions? It means the world to me as one of my favourite authors. My Grandma sends her love, she has been quite unwell and struggling to read, so hasn’t managed to read the last Woolworths Girls but I will still be buying her this and will be reading to her, although she falls asleep so often these days. We have had so many chats about the characters in Woolworth girls and Grandma has related it to her life experiences from the war, so I sit there with a note pad and jot a few things down inspiration for my writing and also just to spend time with Grandma and have this great connection. Thank you!
Chells and Books Review:
Firstly, I would like to thank all at Ellen and Bethan from EDPR for organising the blog tour and Elaine for answering my questions, I cannot tell you how exciting it is to have you on my blog.
The Teashop Girls is just as good as I thought it would be if not even better. Elaine’s writing style is just perfect it truly is like a comfort blanket wrapping me up ready for a cosy journey into the 1940s. As for the characters well they are just as good as all of Elaine’s other characters from her other books such as The Woolworth Girls, strong women who become friends that you welcome into you home again and again. Very glad this is to be a new series.
The setting for this book is Ramsgate and it has really grabbed my attention, so much so that I have booked a holiday to visit the sites this very weekend coming.
In The Teashop Girls we meet Rose and her friends Lily and Katie who are all Nippies who work for the famous tea shop Lyons. I would have loved to have been around to visit one in the 1940s but Elaine captures it perfectly in her story, you can almost taste the tea cakes and sausage rolls. The girls along with their families and friends have to endure the hardship of the beginning of the war, coping with loved ones away fighting and running to the air raid shelters at the drop of a hat. What with all that and the secrets that they are keeping from each other, this is one eventful read that will keep you gripped right until the end.
I adore Elaine’s writing and her books are amazing if you love sagas then this is most defiantly one for you.