Today, I bring you an interview with a very busy and talented woman. I am in awe of everything she does. Meet Elaine Spires. Author of books about singles in exotic locations and Dagenham based sagas. Her books are described as a touch of raunch with twists a plenty. Elaine is also a playwright, director, and actress. What a superstar. Lets find out more !
Tell me about yourself. You are a very busy woman.
I am!! Well, my background is tourism and drama - acting and teaching. I spent a number of years living abroad: sixteen in Spain - Mallorca then Ibiza; a year on Corfu and for ten years I had a house on Antigua, where I lived permanently for four years until December 2017 when I sold up and returned to UK. Since then I’ve continued writing and have had a few acting jobs to keep my hand in.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing plays in 1990s and books from about 2006.
You are also a playwright and actress. Tell me more.
I always wanted to be an actress but when I told the careers’ mistress at school she shot me down in flames. “Girls from Dagenham don’t go to RADA or appear in the West End,” she said. Well, it took me a number of years to prove her wrong but I DID finally appear in the West End in the 'Ladykillers' at the Gielgud Theatre in 2011 and the Vaudeville in 2013. A lesson if ever there was one of keeping your vision clear! At the moment I am delighted to be a part of Karen Struel-White’s One Night With Marilyn productions. Theatre companies worldwide are staging rehearsed readings of the play about Marilyn Monroe, which is written by PT Rose and coincides with 60th anniversary of her death in 1962. I have played the role of Ida Bolinger in the Spanish and English language versions in London and will be reprising the role in February at the Hampstead Centre.
While I was a member of the Anna Scher Theatre in London during 1990s and 2000s we produced our own plays each term and I absolutely loved that. I took one of the plays I produced there, 'What’s Eating Me', to the Edinburgh Festival and afterwards I didn’t want to let it go. So I turned that into my first book. It tells the story of Eileen Holloway, a down-trodden single mum of two teenage boys who uses food to get her through the day. Then her life totally changes when her domineering mother tricks her into appearing on Barbara’s Beautiful Bodies, a TV slimming programme. My second book, 'Sweet Lady', also started life as a play. It’s set on Antigua and I was able to stage a production of it there, which was immensely satisfying.
What inspires your story telling?
Real life. There are stories going on all around us all the time. I was fortunate that in my job in travel I met dozens of very interesting people with amazing back stories, but one thing that has been reinforced for me time and time again throughout my life is that you never know what’s going on inside anyone else’s head and I try to bring that into my story telling.
You have many published books, but since Christmas is coming, can you tell me about your book titled ‘You Never See Rainbows at Christmas’.
It’s been described as “hopeful, heartfelt and uplifting” and “a thoroughly gorgeous read.” It was a book I really enjoyed writing. The protagonist is Eloise, who plans to spend Christmas alone, like a rhinestone Miss Havisham lying on the settee, crying her eyes out while listening to Dolly Parton’s Greatest Hits. But a fall in the sleet two nights before Christmas lands her at the feet of rough sleeper Adam who is fighting his own demons. Limping, cut and bruised she has no alternative but to accept his offer of help…
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yes. It’s the fourth book in the Dagenham Series (the second chronologically) which has the working title, 'A Town in Essex'. It’s set in Dagenham from 1932 - 1950 and covers World War II and the toll it took on the town and its inhabitants.
What is your writing process like?
Haphazard! LOL. My research is always in-depth. Even though each book in the Singles’ Series is set in a location I know, I still did thorough research as places can and do change. The same with the Dagenham books. The Banjo Books (1&2) were easier because they are set in my lifetime but 'A Village in the Country', which is set in 1920s (when I wasn’t alive!) took extensive research on Dagenham Village and the building of the Becontree Estate that completely enveloped it.
But, once I have done the historical and geographic research and have a clear picture of the main characters and a couple of plot milestones as I call them in my head, I then just start writing and more or less see where it takes me. I know some writers would be horrified by this but it’s what works for me.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal and why?
A dolphin. I’m a Piscean, so I love the water. I’m also a self-published author, from choice, as I love the freedom that gives me as a writer to produce the book that I want. So, yes, a dolphin, diving, playing and swimming freely in beautiful blue seas.
What comes first for you, the plot, or the characters?
A vague idea of the storyline rather than full plot comes first and that is quickly followed by the main character(s).
What advice would you give a new author?
Don’t be afraid to write YOUR story. Don’t procrastinate: just get on and write - your book won’t write itself. And never compare your writing career to any other writer’s because comparison is the fast track to misery.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love the theatre and I like to go as often as possible. I’m a real book worm so I read a lot. I think it’s important to do that if you’re a writer. I love watching tennis. I love going out for afternoon tea. And I love sitting in the garden - when the weather allows, of course. Eating outside is something I miss from my days of living abroad.
Thank you to Elaine for sharing all of her interesting projects with us. If you would like to check out her work, click on the links below.