Saga Saturday - Welcome saga author, Elaine Everest...

First know your setting!

Elaine Everest

Thank you so much for inviting me to write about the settings for my sagas.

The very first saga I had published came after years of writing short stories, articles, columns, competition pieces, non-fiction books – in fact anything that would earn me a living as a writer. Like most writers my one goal had always been to be a published novelist and to be able to do this writing sagas was a dream come true.

I’d always loved reading sagas and was a big fan of Dee Williams and Carol Rivers to name but two, so when I decided to write Gracie’s War I knew that I had to create a story set in a memorable time period and in a setting that I liked. After all, there may be more books to follow so the setting had to be right. What better than where I grew up? I’d listened avidly to stories told to me by my mum of her experiences as a child in WW2. That excitement and wonderment never left me. I always wanted to know more. My homes in Slade Green, and nearby Erith were set on the banks of the river Thames in Kent. Bomb Alley, Vickers, The Blitz, The Battle of Britain, the evacuation of Dunkirk ­– Kent more than played a part and paid the price. The area was a gift to a saga writer and remained so with the Woolworths Girls series of books that followed when I set them in Erith where I was born.

Soon the time came to discuss a new series with my agent and my editor at Pan Macmillan. We chatted about earlier outlines I’d submitted, and it was decided that a WW2 story set around the Nippies who worked for the Lyon’s teashops would be an interesting project. I was insistent that the series would remain in Kent as I felt this was my ‘patch’ and my readers had got to know the area I wrote about. Straight away Ramsgate and nearby Margate came to mind. As a child growing up in the late fifties and early sixties Ramsgate had been a popular choice for the family’s annual fortnight holiday, when the company my dad worked for had its summer shutdown.

Like many families at the time my parents didn’t drive so we caught a bus to nearby Crayford and travelled by coach to Ramsgate. To this day I only have to get a whiff of diesel fumes and I can see those dusty coaches with the hard bristle fabric seats and I’m a child once more trying out all kinds of ideas Mum had read about to keep travel sickness at bay. I’m possibly the only child who travelled to her holiday clutching two old pennies in my hands. It didn’t work but I hung onto them all the same and used them later in the slot machines by the beach.
Sometimes we caught the train depending on the best bargain Mum could find at the time. Whatever mode of transport there was always the thrill of spotting the sea for the first time. That thrill has never left me.

The boarding houses we stayed in – they call them ‘guest houses’ these days – were memorable for their friendly landladies and guests who would fuss over me and my siblings. The walk to the beach each day carrying our buckets and spades, the wet days, the days when the sun was so hot, we turned lobster pink and then red – ouch! Getting dressed up in our homemade frocks each evening to go out and walk along the front. Going back to the boarding house each night holding Dad’s hand as we walked up the steep slope known as Madeira Walk looking at the coloured lights that shone so brightly behind the magical waterfalls that bordered the walk. The aroma of onions and sausages from the hot dog stand and looking back to the harbour where small boats bobbed gently on the sea… No wonder the area beckoned to me as I planned my teashop series.

Discovering the town had its own WW2 story with the Little Ships, the incessant bombing, the Ramsgate Tunnels, and nearby Manston Air Field was a gift for this author.
I even get to revisit often in the name of research. Lucky me!

The Teashop Girls is a warm and moving tale of friendship and love in wartime, by the bestselling author of the Woolworths series, Elaine Everest.

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 fiancĂ© 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?

The Teashop Girls is the new book by Elaine Everest, much-loved author of the Woolworths Girls series. Available on Amazon


Elaine Everest, author of bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths, and Wartime at Woolworths was born and brought up in North West Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty-two years and has written widely for women's magazines and national newspapers, with both short stories and features. Her non-fiction books for dog owners have been very popular and led to broadcasting on radio about our four-legged friends. Elaine has been heard discussing many topics on radio from canine subjects to living with a husband under her feet when redundancy looms.

When she isn't writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school at The Howard Venue in Hextable, Kent and has a long list of published students. Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Crime Writers Association, The Society of Women Writers & Journalists and The Society of Authors.


  1. please, please say there are more Teashop Girls books to come.........

    1. I second that! Anymore Teashop Girls books planned, Elaine??