Emily came to visit the Chat Room on a rainy day in Wales. She was wearing a floaty, floral dress and a raincoat. I noted that her bag was an overflowing brown, leather Fiorelli bag. Despite the rain, Emily was very cheerful and happy to talk about her book. Whilst bouncing her little baby daughter, Florence, on her knee Emily was also keeping one eye on her son, Elliot. The mischievous toddler was heading towards a pile of books, with a pen in his hand and a glint in his eye. After refocusing the children onto their colouring activities, and trying to stop Elliot drawing on his little sister, we settled down for a chat.
We drank tea and ate Welsh cakes, as we discussed Emily’s debut novel, Letters to Eloise.
Jessie: Why did you decide to present the novel in a series of letters?
Emily: As a child, I always wrote letters as I loved to receive replies. We moved around a lot as children so I kept touch with friends and family by writing letters, ever hopeful of that reply. There is nothing more special than receiving a hand-written letter. My late grandmother loved writing letters to me and even in her nineties she would send them. It seemed the perfect way for Flora to write to her unborn child.
Jessie: Capture the essence of your book in a couple of sentences.
Emily: Letters to Eloise is the warm, witty, and heart-wrenching debut epistolary novel by Emily Williams. The novel is a love story of misunderstandings, loss, and betrayal but ultimately the incredible bond between mother and child.
Jessie: You have received an incredible number of reviews. Please read some extracts from the reviews.
Emily: Thank you. I have been so lucky to receive such lovely reviews.
At this point, Elliot was keen to show off his colouring so we paused to make another cup of tea. Emily took the opportunity to retrieve the reviews of her book. It took some time as she has over fifty reviews.
‘It is a very emotional book. It’s utterly heart-breaking at times but, perhaps surprisingly, there is quite a bit humour in it too and it is also uplifting.’
‘What a beautifully written book. I enjoyed every page as the story unfolded. Sad at times but also uplifting – just like real life. Loved it.’
‘I am so glad that I stumbled upon this book. I absolutely loved the entire thing. I’m a sucker for stories like this, stories about true love, and stories about the sacrifices we make for this love.’
Jessie: Have you got an extract from your book to tempt a reader?
Emily didn’t even need to read from the book, as she knew which words would hook the reader.
Emily: However, as soon as I saw that positive blue line seep along the window in the plastic casing of the pregnancy test, I knew you were the one to whom I will write my letters.
Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?
Emily: I really did miss the characters and still do. Parts of the story still come to me and the words play out in my mind. I became so immersed into the story over the four years that I wrote the book that it was really hard to let it go. It was very emotional for me to write, after been told that I couldn’t conceive. Then when I became pregnant, the words of the book had extra meaning for me.
I felt a mixture of sadness and elation when the book was finished. Then pure fear that I would never be able to write anything like that again!
Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why? This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.
Emily: I would love Kate Middleton to read my story. I would hope that she would connect to Flora, having had two children herself, and I would love to know her opinion as the story unfolds
Kate, if you’re listening, DM me and I will send you a copy!
Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?
Emily: Letters to Eloise will connect with your soul after you read it (I hope). You’ll always want to keep the story close to your heart.
Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?
Emily: ‘I knew where he’d be; where he always was.’ This sentence is from my YA novel ‘The Subtle Art of Keeping a Racehorse. I mainly just have notes or mind-maps in the notebook rather than sentences but this is the last full sentence in the book
Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an independent author?
Emily: The biggest challenge is being noticed in a sea of other equally fantastic authors. Writing quality is the first step but then finding readers willing to take to risk on an unknown author is very challenging.
I have been so lucky with the support of fantastic book bloggers and reviewers that have been so kind. I am hoping that one day I will succeed in getting my name known out there as an author but at the moment I am content when I receive the lovely reviews I have had for Letters to Eloise.
Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?
Emily: Believe in yourself and never give up!
A little more about Emily…
Emily Williams is hard-working and driven to succeed. She is passionate about her writing: she has adored writing for as long as she can remember. She grew up wanting to write novels. Fortunately, a career teaching enables her to inspire children to use their imagination and writing skills to develop their own stories. Emily is ever thankful to her own primary school teachers for instilling her passion in writing and is hoping she can do her little bit to pass this on.
Emily has far too many animals, but aims in life to buy a farm so she can have some more!
Emily is currently working on her next novel, whilst looking after two children, and host of small pets and suffering from a poorly wrist after a riding injury.
Best of luck to Emily with her debut novel, she has already received an impressive number of accolades. Emily’s unique storytelling hooks the reader from the outset. I am looking forward to her second novel.
Read my review of Letters to Eloise on My Reading page.