Emily Williams has written an endearing and emotional debut novel about the enduring and powerful love between mother and unborn child. Letters To Eloise is a book that had me smiling in recognition, and wiping away the tears. The narrator, Flora, is a student who falls pregnant and begins to write heartfelt letters to her unborn baby daughter, who she names Eloise. The story weaves the past with the present, as Flora deals with an unexpected pregnancy, unsuitable men, and heartbreak. The ending was one I did not see coming and I would highly recommend this charming tearjerker. Emily kindly agreed to an interview, and here she talks about the inspiration for her debut novel, her experience of publishing so far and her plans for the future…
1) Can you tell us about your writing and publishing journey so far?
Letters to Eloise has become a very special novel to me. The journey has been a long one and started quite a few years ago. I started the novel when I had the initial idea five years ago, 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.
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; however, my journey isn’t over and now continues with my new projects.
I am very excited about my next two novels.
2) How would you describe your debut novel Letters To Eloise?
I find it hard to describe my own novel! I will combine some of the lovely words from reviews to make a sentence – a heart-breaking yet warm, witty and touching love story.
I like writing things a bit different and enjoyed writing Letters to Eloise in letter format.
3) What has been the hardest part of your publishing journey?
The hardest part has been learning all the formatting and other details that go with publishing an eBook and paperback. I have had to learn everything from scratch, which although hard, I have really enjoyed! The other hard bits have been the marketing side and embracing social media.
Everything is still such a learning curve at the moment.
4) What do you feel has been the best part of your publishing journey?
Each time I read a review, it has all been worth it. I’ve been so lucky to receive such lovely reviews and reading them makes me smile. I am so pleased that others enjoy my writing and have loved Letters to Eloise.
5) Do you have any advice or tips for new writers about to hit publish?
Don’t rush! Before you hit publish, make sure you have been through the novel with a fine toothcomb. Ensure you have rested your book for a while to look at it again with fresh eyes. Hitting publish doesn’t just end the process though, there’s plenty more work to do! I wish I had organised beta readers and blog tours etc earlier, so be prepared well in advance.
6) Tell us about your writing process. How does a typical day go?
During the day, if any ideas come to me, I use the notes app on my phone to jot down any ideas or post-it notes. Then in the evening (when the kids are safely tucked in bed out the way!), I look back through my notes. I have a chapter’s grid, which keeps track of the order of the novel and any chapters I need to add in. With both Letters to Eloise and now with my current novel, I don’t write the chapters in order. I like to pick and choose what to write which helps with writers block!
I then write for a couple hours in the evening or until at least one chapter is finished. I re-read before saving! The next day I will re-read and edit the work and carry on with another chapter!
7) What are you working on right now? What else can we expect from you?
I am working on a charity novel entitled ‘The Subtle Art of Keeping a Racehorse.’ The proceeds from the novel will go to two horse charities, one of which is the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre. The story is a YA book about teenagers, a missing racehorse, secrets, lies and chaos!
I am also working on another adult novel, more of a psychological thriller than a romance, but will be just as emotional as Letters to Eloise.
8) 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!
9) Tell us about your long-term goals and dreams
I would love to be a full-time writer and live in the countryside with all our animals. We are hoping to move to the country or even to France soon, to run a small business. I hope that my writing can pay the bills!
10) Tell us 3 interesting things about either yourself or your novel
1. I have no funny bones! After a riding accident I had surgery on both my arms which moved the nerve that causes the funny bone sensation! I find writing difficult now so hand-write or use a Dictaphone if they are particularly painful.
2. The protagonist in Letters to Eloise is called Flora, short for Florence. I called my daughter Florence too. I wasn’t allowed to call her Eloise, so Eloise is a pet cockatiel I have in my aviary!
3. I have never ever been to the hairdresser! My hair does need a good chop but I’m still scared to go!
Bio; 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.