IT'S SAGA SATURDAY!! Pull up a seat as I ask saga author Joanna Toye some questions...



        Thanks so much for inviting me on to your blog and for the great questions!

         It's great to have you here! I am looking forward to learning more about you and your work - let's get             things started with my questions...

         What genre do you typically read? Why?

I’ve lived in the 1940s for the past five years with the Shop Girls, and seem to be stuck in the early 20th century! I love the period from the 1900s to the 1950s. I read sagas of course by my fellow authors, and a lot of so-called ‘Golden Age’ crime. I lived abroad from the age of nine to thirteen and it was hard to get hold of any books in English, let alone children’s books – which started me off writing stories for my own amusement. What you could get, sometimes, were what were then called ‘airport novels’ - Jack Higgins, Len Deighton and, thankfully for me, Agatha Christie. I still love and re-read her books, and I love the British Library Crime Classics with their fabulous covers of vintage railway posters. The detail and turns of phrase give a brilliant sense of the period. 

2.)          Share a favourite childhood memory.

Ah, this is from the UK – my auntie lived in Bournemouth, and had a beach hut. One summer when I was about six I caught German measles on holiday there. I wasn’t really ill at all, but it was a good chance to cuddle up under a rug (well, it was an English summer!) in a deckchair outside the hut, eating a buttered currant bun and reading my Enid Blyton. Heaven!

3.)          Do you have any shameless addictions? ie. Tea, Books, Shoes, Clothes?

Ha, ha, where to start? I can’t start the day without my chai tea, or end it without a bit of chocolate, and my book buying is out of hand – lockdown hardly helped with that!  I have all the clothes I need. I can’t justify buying them anyway, as I work from home and days go by without my seeing anyone except my dear husband, who probably wouldn’t notice! I can’t resist buying clothes for my daughter’s two little girls – they’re four and eighteen months - but even those I buy mostly from a Barnardo’s Kids shop near me, which makes me feel a bit more virtuous.

4) What do you think is the biggest challenge of writing a new book?

I have to visualise everything - where the characters are, what they doing as they speak, how the logistics of moving them about will actually work. Are there other people in the background? Who are they? What are the sound effects? Birdsong? A passing car? An air raid siren?  I can’t start till I have the first sentence and then the whole first scene playing out in my mind. I take long walks and mull it over, trying out variations till I know it almost off by heart. Then I write it. Once I have that right, the rest just follows.

5)    Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages a day?

I tried this in lockdown, setting myself 1000 words a day, so that if I exceeded it, it felt good: I’m a great believer in achievable goals. Some days, when I was on a roll, I was writing almost 2000 words. But it averaged out the same, because if I had a couple of 2000-word days, I was shattered by day 3 or 4 and had to take the time off! Rushing it is not helpful in the end, not to me, anyway.

6)    What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I came to saga novels from writing soaps, so the ongoing-ness of a series is what I know and love. All four previous Shop Girls titles, and the new one in the series, ‘The Victory Girls’, which is just out, can be read as a stand-alone or out of order - any backstory is explained.  If readers do come to The Victory Girls first, I hope they’ll want to go back and read the others, because it’s so satisfying to see characters develop and grow, to live their lives with them, as it were.  What you get with a series is that sense of anticipation. At the end of each book, you want the reader to long for the story to carry on … and, in the next book, it does!



Starting as a P.A. at the BBC in Birmingham, I had thirty wonderful years researching, producing and then scriptwriting for soaps like Crossroads, EastEnders, and The Archers. I also wrote eleven spin-off books, including six novelisations, about various programmes. But finally the weekly or monthly soap deadlines got to me – I thought writing novels would be more relaxing! What a fool – there are still deadlines, after all! But no, I love everything about writing and living in the world of the Shop Girls, but most of all hearing from readers who’ve discovered the books and enjoyed them.  

I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and live in the Midlands, (not far from my fictional Marlows store!). My daughter has two little girls of her own and I write stories for them, as well as serials for women’s magazines.

You can find out more about me on:


Twitter @joannatoye

Amazon author page




The end of the war draws near, but for shop girls Lily, Gladys and Beryl, there’s a long way to go…. Lily still wants to join up and ‘do her bit’, but where does that leave her  oldest friend Gladys, pregnant with her first child, with her husband away at sea? Beryl’s always had big ideas, but how far will her sometimes reckless husband go to help her achieve them? And what about Lily’s loyal boyfriend, Jim? Has he missed the moment to propose? There’s a lot still to play for in ‘The Victory Girls’…


You should be able to find The Victory Girls in bookshops and supermarkets, or here are the Amazon links -




No comments

Post a Comment