Books in My Handbag is delighted to introduce Elaine Jeremiah
Elaine asked me to put her ‘fun and flirty romance’ in my handbag
Elaine is the author of ‘Teaching Mr Leavis’ and is currently working on her fourth novel. I am impressed with her insight into self-publishing and the way that she interacts with her beta readers. Her positivity and determination shine through in her responses. Ultimately, it is her love of writing that drives her – she tries to ‘write what she knows’ and lets her characters ‘evolve’ as she gets to know them.
Besides writing, Elaine works in the HR department of a charity organisation. She lives in Bristol with her husband and their dog, Dug. Dug also likes to read Elaine’s books.
Why should people buy your book?
Teaching Mr Leavis is a fun romance about two people who learn to love each other against all the odds. The novel shows how people can change – not just in how they feel about someone else, but their whole outlook on life.
What have the reviewers said about your most recent book?
The consensus is that it’s a happy, light-hearted read and good for anyone wanting to escape for a while. People have said that ‘it kept their attention and is a good holiday read’. It has also been described as a ‘sweet love story’.
Why should I put your book in my handbag?
I think my book should be kept in your handbag because it’s: a fun, flirty romance with a real heart. There are many memorable characters who will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
Why did you start writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, and obviously with writing it’s primarily about the enjoyment of it. Everything else should come second.
Do you have a special writing place?
Nowadays, I tend to do all my writing and planning on my laptop, so I usually work from home. A couple of times I’ve taken my laptop with me to a café and worked in there, which is fun. Sometimes I’ve even taken it with me on holiday, but not outside the UK. It’s great to write somewhere new.
What are the challenges facing an independent author?
There are many and varied challenges! I think the main one is probably the promotion of novels, as it’s so time consuming, and you must do everything yourself. You get support from other indie authors, family and friends, but that’s about it. Promotion does tend to distract you from your writing, which is ironic really, isn’t it?
How often do you draft the novel and do you have an editor?
I don’t have an editor. I write the first draft, give it an initial edit, then send it out to beta readers for their feedback. I find this so helpful – if you have a lot of different people scrutinising your work, they can often spot things that you’ve missed completely. I do find it completely nerve-wracking when people look at my work for the first time, but it’s definitely worth it. My fourth novel is currently out with beta readers, and I’m looking forward to hearing their responses.
How do you find beta readers and reviewers?
With beta readers, I ask family and friends if they’d like to do it for me. I also use Facebook and in the past my blog. I find reviewers via the internet; usually it’s people I’m in contact with already, such as book blogger. Twitter is very helpful.
How do you use social media to support you and are you a member of any forums?
As mentioned, I use Facebook and Twitter. I have a Facebook author page, and every time I post on that, I link it to my personal page. So that’s really helpful. I also try to tweet regularly and retweet other people. I currently have just over 2000 followers on Twitter, and they’re nearly all writers. I tend to forget just how big Twitter is, because nearly all my focus is on writing, so it feels like quite an intimate world.
I am a member of three Jane Austen fan fiction forums, which I’ve found helpful and interesting as well.
What is the best advice that anyone has ever given you in relation to writing?
Good advice is to write what you know, but I think you can adapt that if you do the research into something you don’t know about: it’s important to make it authentic. My mum has pointed out to me various writers who’ve shown real attention to detail in their narrative. I’m trying to do this by making my writing more descriptive, without overdoing it and making it boring, which doesn’t come easily to me! I prefer writing dialogue.
Where did you get the idea for the new novel and did you plan the entire narrative before commencing?
With ‘Teaching Mr Leavis’, I just thought it would be appealing idea to have the story be about a new teacher and how someone does something awful to her on her first day. I’m quite funny with planning – I tend to make quite a detailed plan for my novels and then I deviate quite far from them. It was the same with this story; I did a plan for it and although I stuck to some of the plan, a lot of it just evolved.
Do the characters ever surprise you and take over the story?
I find that the characters evolve as I’m writing, and therefore the overall plot. New aspects of their character pop into my head and they become more real as my stories progress. Going back to beta readers, having people make suggestions about characters really helped. I had some quite strong words from some of my beta readers about my heroine Rebecca, so I tried to change her character a little, make her a bit more mellow!
You have written an impressive number of books. Tell me more about what you have written.
I’ve written four novels now, the fourth is yet to be published. The first is best described as a family saga, the second two are romances and the fourth is also a romance, but with a difference, as it’s a Jane Austen-inspired time travel romance!
A few words about Elaine:
When not working or writing, I enjoy reading, catching up on my favourite TV programmes, going for walks with my husband and the dog and socialising with friends. I’m also very active with my church not far from where we live.
The best of luck to Elaine with her writing journey. I will follower her progress on Twitter and Facebook with great interest.