On my blog today I not only have a fabulous extract from Emily William’s debut novel Letters to Eloise but also a Q&A with the author herself.
First off here is the brilliant extract:
And here is the Q&A:
Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your path to publication?
Hello readers! My name is Emily. I am a pet loving, book adoring woman that lives by the seaside in sunny West Sussex. I currently look after my baby, toddler, and numerous pets including chickens and horses, whilst also working in a local primary school as a teacher. Four years ago my life was a lot different to it is now. I used the novel to live out some life ambitions that I wanted. Flora became my fictional self. I always wanted to be a mother and have a large busy family and since writing the novel, I have been lucky enough to fulfil those dreams.
My path to publication …
Letters to Eloise has become a very special novel to me. I started the novel all those years ago when I had the initial idea, which I jotted down into a notebook and then onto post-it notes. These post-it notes then formed the timeline of the letters for the whole novel. The protagonist ‘Flora’ and her situation were always very strong in my mind. Flora falls pregnant whilst completing her postgraduate studies. She is still in love with her ex boyfriend River, however has tried to move on with a handsome and mysterious lecturer at the university. Later on during the plot drafting process, other characters developed their own voices and some even tried to take over!
I choose the epistolary element for Letters to Eloise as I have always enjoyed reading books that contain diary entries or letters so felt this would fit Flora’s situation perfectly. I liked that she had someone real to write to, someone to pour out her emotions. I loved writing every single letter and making sure that the plot linked up through Flora’s narrative.
I was at a time in my life where I desperately wanted a family but wasn’t in a situation where this was possible, so I wrote Letters to Eloise as an outlet to that. The novel took so long to write as, unexpectedly, I also fell pregnant like protagonist Flora. I had just finished the first draft, and when dealing with all things pregnancy related, I found that I couldn’t read or even look at the book so it was put aside!
Luckily, I did return to the novel after my second child, a daughter, last July. I finally completed my long journey to publication.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I wouldn’t say rituals, but I need peace and quiet for writing and the initial ideas process. An evening set aside where I can pace about the room (with a wall covered in paper I can scribble on) and let my imagination run wild! Then I buckle down to writing in the evenings and completely immerse myself into the world of the characters.
What was the inspiration behind Letters to Eloise?
There were many different inspirations for Letters to Eloise. I had been writing plot notes in a notebook for a while, but none of the stories really grabbed me. Then suddenly, this one came to mind and I jotted down a rough timeline and plot. Looking back at those notes, most of the ideas for Letters to Eloise came from those initial jottings. Different aspects of the story are inspired by different parts of my own life, for example, I based the university on my own experiences in halls at both Leicester and Sussex University.
As for why I chose the original idea, or how it came to me, I am not sure. I was just in a time of my life where I wanted to settle down and start a family. The novel must have kicked started something as I fell pregnant with my first child a couple of months after finishing the first draft! When I looked up the name Eloise, in a baby name book, it unravelled all the ancient tale of Abelard and Heloise, which I couldn’t help but make a part of the story.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Oh yes! Ever since primary school I have always written stories and wanted to have them published. Throughout the time since then, I have always had a novel or an idea on the go. Letters to Eloise is my first completed novel.
If you could have written any other book what would it be?
One Day by David Nicholls. I love his style of writing, which is witty but touching. I loved the way he wrote a chapter for each year, this unusual style led me to think outside the box when writing my own novel.
Do you have any advice for budding authors?
Firstly, always believe in yourself! Even on a bad day and when you get your first bad review, never give up!
Make sure you research how to edit and format before you start. I wasted hours, possibly days, scrolling through my novel repeatedly, correcting simple mistakes that I didn’t need to, due to formatting and editing incorrectly and sometimes in the wrong order! Examples of some mistakes were pressing the tab button for indents, incorrect speech marks, spaces after full stops, en dashes, and em dashes, etc.
Start early with everything! Lay out a plan for a realistic release day, and then work backwards with dates. Remember that it takes time for beta readers and proofreaders to get back to you, edits take time to correct and that everything needs to be ready before formatting for eBook and paperback. Decide when to market and have promotions etc well in advance of the final release day. Get advance reader copies out early. I have made mistakes along my journey but learnt so much with Letters to Eloise and I am so delighted and proud of the end result, finally!
Who are your favourite authors?
Favourite authors would include Cecelia Ahern, who creates amazingly imaginative worlds for her characters that I can picture myself in. Her stories have strong characters with a magical element of fantasy to them. She too has inspired me to think outside the box! Sheila O’Flanagan writes very clearly about the families in her stories and her characters emotions. There are many, many authors who inspire me and all the books I have read as a child have made me the writer and reader I am today.
I was, and still am sometimes, a massive pony book fan and still have all my childhood pony stories, especially Patricia Leitch novels. I am hoping my son and daughter will love reading them too! I would really love to write a good pony story and have one up my sleeve at the moment!
How long did it take you to write Letters to Eloise?
A long time! I started it over four years ago. I set myself a deadline and stuck to it, booking myself into a writer’s workshop at Regents College in London as the motivation to finish. It took three months from the initial plot ideas to complete the first draft. Then I fell pregnant …
As Flora was also pregnant, I couldn’t bring myself to edit the novel. You will understand why when you read it! So the book was put on hold (in the meantime it was beta and proof read) until I returned to all the editing notes after having my second child last July. Therefore, it has been a long process but I have learnt a massive amount along the way.
Are you working on a new novel now?
I am currently working on my second novel, with several other children’s books on the go! I always have children’s books on the go as I get so excited about ideas! I have managed to fit a horse into this book, which greatly excites me!
My second adult novel is a little different from my debut Letters to Eloise. It probably fits the psychological thriller genre rather than a romance, although it will still be very emotional. However, Letters to Eloise isn’t your typical romance. Again, the idea came to me suddenly and I scrambled to write down the whole plot. I am looking forward to seeing how the characters develop by themselves as the story progresses. This novel will be hopefully be out by the end of the year.
In three words, can you describe Letters to Eloise?
Heart wrenching, witty and memorable.
Thank you so much for welcoming me onto your blog, I have really enjoyed taking part in your Q&A. I hope you have enjoyed learning more about Letters to Eloise.
I’ve loved learning more about Letters to Eloise!! Thanks so much for appearing on my blog! Wish you lots and lots of success with this and your future novels! x
Emily Williams lives by the seaside in West Sussex with her family and a menagerie of small pets. After graduating from Sussex University with a BA in Psychology, Emily trained as a primary school teacher and teaches in a local school. Letters to Eloise is her debut novel. As well as writing, Emily is a keen reader and supports other authors with interviews and reviews.
If you would like to buy Letters to Eloise here is the link!
Big thanks again to Emily!!