The Woolworths Girl’s Promise by Elaine Everest
The Woolworth Girl’s Promiseis the heart warming eighth novel in Elaine Everest’s bestselling Woolworths series that follows the turbulent life of a much-loved Woolworths girl.
After losing her beloved fiancé at Ypres in 1917, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Billington faces a lonely future estranged from her upper-class parents due to her association with Charlie Sayers and his working-class family. No longer able to live under her parents’ roof she is taken in by Charlie’s father, escaping the suffocating demands of her parents.
Betty soon learns all too well about the realities of life after an accident at the Woolwich Arsenal munitions works. Spotting an advertisement for a nearby job at Woolworths, Betty starts on a new and thrilling journey – starting at the bottom of the employment ladder in the well-known store.
Her work journey leads her to Ramsgate in Kent to work in a newly-built store and with this comes the chance of marriage. But can she ever forget Charlie and the promise she made to him . . . ?
Read this exciting early chapter in the life of well-known Betty Billington and follow her journey before she arrives at the Erith store – and meets fellow Woolworths Girls in 1938, as war is again on the horizon . . .
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, please?
I became a full-time writer in 1997 writing short stories and articles for magazines and newspapers as well entering writing competitions and learning the craft of writing full length novels. In 2003 I was BBC Radio Kent’s Short Story Writer of the Year and a while later a runner up in The Harry Bowling Prize named after the much-missed saga author. Whilst writing I also studied for a teaching qualification and taught sessions for Kent Adult Education. When I set up my own writing school some of my talented students followed me and have had successful careers with their own writing. My first foray into historical sagas was Gracie’s War which not only saw me graduate from the Romantic Novelists’ New Writers Scheme but also led to meeting my agent. I was soon offered my first two book contract with Pan Macmillan and happy to say that many years later I’m still with them.
Do you have a soundtrack that you listen to when you are writing?
I love to include music in my books as it reminds me so much of my father’s family who would get up and sing at family events – the old songs are the best! Of course, that means I have the songs playing non-stop on my phone and often burst into song which can frighten my dog. When I started writing my Teashop Girls series, I wanted my main character. Rose to sing and looked for something different. I came across the American singer Helen Forrest who sang with some of the well-known big bands of the forties. The romantic songs were perfect for Rose, and yes, I sing along!
How do you decide who your books are dedicated to?
That can be so hard and other times so easy; I do feel it is something I have to get right. My husband Michael, my dogs, much-missed friends, people from my past whose lives have influenced my stories. It is something I think about a lot as I’m writing the book.
What was the inspiration behind your latest release?
The Woolworths Girl’s Promise was a story that begged to be told. So many lovely readers have told me their favourite character was store manager Betty Billington that I began to think about her past life before she worked for Woolworths. In The Woolworths Girls, she’d told her new friends about her fiancé Charlie Sayers who died at Ypres in the August of 1917 – I’d based the character on my own great uncle Charles Sears who also died 17th August 1917 and gradually Betty’s early years developed on the page. I really hope readers enjoy Betty’s story.
Do you find it hard to let your characters go when you finish writing the book?
Most definitely, several who should have died have lived to appear in future books. My characters are like family to me, in fact Ruby, the matriarch of the Woolworths books lives in the same house where I lived when I first married in 1972.
What was your favourite read of 2022?
I read non-stop so that is rather a tough question. I have many sagas and historical author friends and always read their books; I’d hate to mention a name and offend others! At the beginning of 2022 a friend introduced me to the books of Elly Griffiths when she mentioned the first of the Dr Ruth Galloway’s novels, The Crossing Places. I binge-read all of them and have just finished the final in the series. I’m praying Elly writes another!
Who is your favourite author?
I’m a big fan of Peter James. Not only do I read his books as soon as they are published, but I’ve introduced my husband to them, and we have enjoyed seeing his books brought to life on stage. Thinking about what I like most in the Roy Grace series is the way we are drawn into the characters’ lives which weave through the stories. Peter doesn’t hold back and really puts some of the characters through the mangle.
Was there a point in your life that a book helped you get through, and which one?
There is, but it may sound rather strange. It was The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley. I picked the book up at a jumble sale and was drawn to the author’s past life and his writings. The settings were of a long-gone era and so many run into series through many wars – and only a few were about the dark arts! I purchased a subscription and each month a box of red leather-covered books arrived. It was a low point in my life and reading kept my spirits up as I devoured these stories.
Is there anyone that you would like to mention and thank for their support of your writing?
Far too many authors to mention individually, can I have a group thank you? I will say without my husband’s input with my writing career I may have faltered so, thank you Michael – and Henry the dog.
If you had the power to give everyone in the world one book, what would it be and why?
I would have to be cheeky and say the first in my Woolworth Series, The Woolworths Girls, then with luck a few would read the rest of the series!
If you could go for a cuppa with one of your characters, which one would you pick and why?
It would have to be Betty Billington, the star of The Woolworth’s Girls Promise as we could chat about her career and how the Woolworths stores have developed over the years since she first worked for them. Perhaps she could give me a few pointers for my future books? I could tell her about my time as a Saturday Girl in 1969.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the editing stage of Celebrations for the Woolworths Girls which will be published in October and is already listed on Amazon for pre orders. I’m also writing Wartime with the Teashop Girls, which will be the third in the Teashop Girls series. I’m back writing about WW2 and Lyon’s Nippies.
Do you have any events coming up?
Yes, we are firming up dates at the moment which will be listed on my website www.elaineeverest.com Some will be in person, while others are via Zoom. It will be great to meet readers and chat about books.
Lastly, do you have any questions for your readers?
I would love to hear readers’ memories of Woolworths and if their parents and grandparents can recall the Lyon’s teashops and Nippies.
Thank you so much, Elaine, for taking the time to be on my blog today. I am very grateful that you stopped by and I have had Helen Forest on repeat whilst creating this post.
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Thanks for the reminder – I loved Dennis Wheatley’s Duc de Richleau series. I think a reread might be in order!