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Please welcome Lesley Eames to my blog. Good morning Lesley. Please make yourself at home while I get us some tea and biscuits.
Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.
I’m Lesley Eames and I live in England in St Albans, an old cathedral city which is full of history. St Albans is in Hertfordshire, the county in which Jane Austen set ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
I write fiction and teach creative writing too. In fact, I love everything to do with writing, especially talking to readers and other writers. My debut novel was published in 2018 and my second novel is due for publication in July.
Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember and still have the first ‘book’ I wrote when I was ten (it was a terribly bad story about horses but great fun to write). After studying law at university and qualifying as a solicitor, my writing had to focus on producing professional material but I always looked forward to returning to my love of fiction. I began writing short stories when my daughters were born and sold almost 100 of them to magazines. Eventually, I took the plunge and decided to write and teach full-time.
This led to my first novel, an historical romance called ‘The Silver Ladies of London’. Set in 1923, the book tells the story of four best friends who lose their jobs unfairly and set up their own business as lady chauffeurs despite some men thinking that driving is a man’s world. Its key themes are friendship, courage, social justice, equality of opportunity and love. Alongside the hardship there’s Roaring 20s fashion and fun as well.
I was absolutely delighted when the book was shortlisted in the Historical Romance category of the UK’s Romantic Novel Awards. I’ve also won the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Elizabeth Goudge Cup and the Festival of Romance’s New Talent Award. Congratulations Lesley!
How difficult was it writing your first book?
‘The Silver Ladies of London’ presented several challenges to me as a writer. Firstly, it was set in 1923 which involved a considerable amount of research. Prices, clothes, cosmetics, cars and the events that were taking place worldwide were just a few of the areas I had to research. Exploring the past is fascinating but it’s important to get on with the writing too!
Secondly, the book tells the story of four best friends – Grace, Jenny, Lydia and Ruth – each of whom have their own problems and romances. Weaving the individual stories into one overarching story took a lot of thought but I hope it worked. Oh it did work out!
Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?
Confidence can be tricky at times but I try to see self-doubt as being useful to me as a writer. It spurs me on to keep improving and developing.
Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
My daughters are wonderfully supportive. ‘You can do it, Mum!’ they always tell me.
Friends are terrific too. I find the writing community to be very generous with its support while my non-writer friends are always happy to cheer me on or console me with cups of tea or glasses of wine.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
What I mostly want to say to readers is, ‘Thank you!’
As a writer I send my stories out into the world but it’s the readers who ensure they don’t languish neglected and unread. A lovely review puts a real spring into my step and makes all the hard work of writing feel worthwhile.
What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?
I like to bring the old saying, ‘Do as you would be done by’ to my writing as well as my general life – in other words I try to treat people the way I’d like them to treat me. As far as writing goes, this means treating readers with respect. I try to ensure that my stories are well-researched and take readers on emotional, thought-provoking journeys that leave them feeling great. Whether I actually succeed in this is for others to say.
What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?
My target market is primarily female. My lead characters therefore tend to be female and I address issues that I think will be of interest to women – family, romance, social justice, equality of opportunity, fashion… That said, I also feature male characters (including some rather gorgeous heroes) and my stories take in motor-racing, business and so on. I do have male readers, some of whom report being pleasantly surprised by my writing. In turn I enjoy stories written by men as well as stories written by women.
Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?
I didn’t design the cover for ‘The Silver Ladies of London’ but had some input, particularly when it came to reflecting the period in which the story is set, such as the clothes that feature on the cover. I like the car and the mews in the background.
I haven’t seen a design for my second book yet but I’m getting excited at the thought of it.
What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?
My second book is due to be published in July. I haven’t gone public with the title before so this is a first! It’s called, ‘The Brighton Guest House Girls’. Like ‘Silver Ladies’, this story is set in 1923 but in the English seaside town of Brighton. It features Thea, Anna and Daisy who come together to run a guest house while working through the problems that are threatening their well-being and happiness. It’s a story of righting wrongs with friendship at the heart of the relationships along with romance. I do like my heroes!
Any last words before we wrap things up?
Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog, Mary. I’m delighted to have the chance to talk about my writing in general and my books in particular. I feel great affection for my characters and hope readers will enjoy them too.
I recently read this book and I loved the era it was set in and of course London even though I’m from the USA. The characters are unique as are their situations in the world of true love. The plot is solid, and the novel moves along in great fashion. The tie up of the characters near the end gave a sense of happiness and love unending. Extremely few errors noted and they don’t take away from this 5 star book!!