Today, Elaine Everest, author of Gracie's War, is answering a few questions about her book and writing process. Welcome to my blog, Elaine.
Please can you describe Gracie’s War in twenty words?
Thank you for inviting me to your blog.
Gracie is torn between attractive rogue, Joe and handsome soldier, Tony. One wrong decision sets Gracie’s world falling around her feet.
What is your writing process, are you a plotter, or do you start with an idea and see where the story takes you as you write?
I have tried many methods with my writing. I’ve written scenes as they come into my head and stitched them together later. I’ve started novels not knowing where they are leading. These days when an idea come into my head I let it bubble for a while and ask myself questions like, what if this happened or what if I threw more conflict at my characters? When I can answer these questions I’ll draft an outline of the story. Sometimes I chat with my writing colleagues and ask their advice. If I’m not 100% keen on the idea I’ll file it for another time. If the story shouts ‘write me’ I’ll write a chapter plan. The plan will still leave me with scope to be creative. I try to be professional with my writing and that to me means planning my writing life.
Gracie’s War is set around the Second World War, what inspired you to write this book?
I’m a big fan of movies set in the war years. Add romance and I’m even happier. Gracie’s War is set in the part of NW Kent where I was born and lived in my younger years. Gracie lives in the street where I walked every day. Her friend, Peggy lives in the house I moved to when I married. I loved where I grew up and the people of Slade Green and Erith so what better than to use the area for Gracie’s story?
You’ve won the Pulse Write For Us competition and Gracie’s War has been short-listed for the Joan Hessayon Award 2014, how exciting was that for you?
The word ‘thrilled’ is not enough to describe how I felt. There was much eating of chocolate and drinking of wine at home and with my friends and creative writing students. I’m excited that Pulse thought highly enough of my writing to choose Gracie’s War as a winner in their competition. As a member or the Romantic Novelist Association’s New Writer Scheme, and having Gracie go through the scheme last year, means that I have graduated to full membership – something I’ve dreamed of since I started writing.
Can you tell us a little about your journey to being a published author?
Like many writers I scribbled stories when I was a child. For me it was Pip the Pixie on my Petite typewriter. Fortunately that literary piece disappeared. It was being made redundant from my job and going through a traumatic year that made me decide to get writing and stop dreaming. I attended an adult education class - but only after they assured me I wouldn’t have to read aloud in class! Six years later I was teaching that same class after winning BBC Radio Kent’s short story writer of the year competition and selling numerous short stories to women’s magazines. I also ventured into features and articles. Through my love of dogs – showing, breeding and judging – I carved myself a reputation as a specialist in the subject. This has led to radio appearances and columns in publications. I was also commissioned to write three successful non-fiction books for dog owners. When I was approached to teach creative writing I studied and passed the exam to become a qualified tutor. Eventually I moved on to start The Write Place in Dartford, Kent which I run with writing colleague, Francesca Burgess. We are very proud of the successes our students have achieved. These days I try to concentrate on my novels although I can’t resist a new writing challenges.
What are you working on at the moment?
As I write this we are in the middle of NaNoWriMo and I’m working on a novel set in the world of ballroom dancing. I learned to dance at the same dance studio as Len Goodman and when he popped up on my television screen an idea crept into my head…
Thank you for answering these questions for me, Elaine.
Gracie’s War can be purchased through Amazon