Saturday, 1 August 2015

An Interview with Elaine Spires

About the author...

Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine's keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels. Elaine spends her time between her homes in Essex and Five Islands, Antigua (W.I.).

Find Elaine:-

Guest interview...

I am delighted to be hosting the wonderful Elaine Spires on Crooks on Books today. Welcome to Crooks on Books Elaine.
  • Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a novelist, playwright, director and actress who writes reality novels which include travel, sex, humour and twists.  I spend part of my year in Antigua, which I love.  I am also mum to a gorgeous daughter who is a beautiful person both inside and out.  When I'm not writing, acting or directing I can be found lost in a book or watching tennis.  
  • How and why did you get into writing?
I always enjoyed composition at school and loved making up stories.  As a member of the Anna Scher Theatre I loved writing and putting on plays, and I successfully staged one of my plays - What's Eating Me - on the London and Edinburgh Fringes.  I loved Eileen, the heroine of the play and didn't want to let go of her, so I turned the play into a novel; my first book.
  • Your books are travel inspired and loosely based on your own experiences, was this a conscious decision?
Yes, it was.  My travel background was a really rich resource for my Singles' Trilogy (Singles' Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way) and Sweet Lady and it's no secret that I've battled over-eating all my life, which is the problem Eileen faces in What's Eating Me.
  • What aspect of writing daunts you the most?
Promoting my books.  As an indie-author I haven't got a publishing house behind me so I have to do all my own publicity and promo.  It's not easy!
  • If you wasn’t a writer what would your dream job be?
I would be an actress.  Or a tennis commentator.  Travelling the world and watching tennis would be a dream.
  • Describe a typical day in the life of Elaine Spires.
Well, the mornings are usually spent writing - if I'm in Antigua I get up very early and sit and write on my veranda while it's cool.  My house is in a semi-rural area and it's quiet and peaceful and very conducive to to creativity.  I often meet my daughter or friends for lunch or afternoon tea - I love afternoon tea!  Then supermarket or errands before the shops shut, home for a bit of TV and then a bit more writing late at night.
  • You are based in Essex and Antigua - daft question perhaps but, if you could choose ONE base, where would that be?  
Oh that's like asking me to choose which child I'd throw out the lifeboat!!  I do love Antigua; the beaches, the weather, the fresh mangoes, the peace and quiet, the colours, the music, the people, BUT, I also love life in Essex.  It's a much-maligned county but it's a great place to live.  I can be in the West End in forty-minutes on the tube.  I love London and all it has to offer and then I can be on the coast fairly quickly, too.  And, of course, my family is there and life-long friends.  And I love the change-of-seasons you get in UK but not in the Caribbean. So I'm going to sit on the fence with this one.  Sorry!
  • From your own experience how do you cope with self publishing, a knock on effect is self promotion too?
As I said above, self-promotion is hard.  I'm getting the hang of Twitter, very slowly and I've got an author's Facebook page.  I have some great people, like Kim Nash and you, Dawn, who have been really helpful in promoting me and raising my profile.  But it's hard. 
  • Tell us about your next book.
My next book has The Banjo as its working title.  It's set in Dagenham in 1950s and 60s and will be the first of another trilogy.  Banjo is a word, peculiar to Dagenham, which means a cul-de-sac.  There were loads of them on the council estate that was built in Dagenham over forty years from 1920 onwards.  The story follows the 'lives' of the eight houses in the banjo and the families that move in and out.  The second book will be 1970s and 80s and the third from 1990-present day.
  • Do you get the chance to read very much yourself and if so what book are you reading at the moment?
I'd spend my life reading if I could!  My mum used to say the world could end around me but if I had my head in a book I'd never notice.  I'm just about to start Peter James's You Are Dead, no 11 in the Roy Grace series.  I've just finished Renita D'Silva's A Sister's Promise, which I can only describe as exquisite.
  • Do you find you read and write in the same genre?
No, unfortunately.  I love thrillers and murder-mysteries, Peter James, Val McDermid, Lee Childs, Angela Marsons.  I would love to write like them.  I am in awe of their ability.  Perhaps one day......who knows?
  • Is there a message for your readers in your books and what do you hope they take from them?
The sub-title of Sweet Lady is, Nothing Is As It Seems.  And I hope that's the message in all my books - nobody is as they seem - often people have so much to offer if they're given the chance and conversely, the good are often hiding something.  This is rather a long-winded way of saying - give everyone a chance!
  • What advice would you give to a budding new author?
Write!  Get on and do it!  Don't wait until you have the full storyline and all the characters complete; just start writing and the story will come to life on its own.  And don't worry about negative reviews.  Not everyone will like your work.  But, please, please, use correct grammar.  If you're unsure of something, look it up or invest in a grammar book such as Murphy's English Grammar in Use.
  • Where would you like to be career wise in a years time?
At the top of Amazon's best-seller's list!
And now for a little fun, a glimpse at the real 
Elaine Spires:-

What’s your favourite tipple? 
Bailey's on ice.
Do you prefer savoury or sweet things? 
Sweet - no contest!
Friends coming round  - cook or get a take-away? 
Probably take-away.
Do you prefer hot or cold climates?  
I can appreciate both but I have to come down in favour of hot. 
Do you prefer a beach holiday or city break?  
Once again, both!  Love the beach but also love exploring cities.
Which would you prefer luxury cruise or fly long haul first class? 
Luxury cruise. 
Do you prefer to go to the cinema or theatre?  
Nothing beats the theatre. 
Which do you prefer comedy or true stories when watching a film? 
Comedy if it's well-done. 
Do you have any pets? 
Not at the moment because of my travelling but I've had cats and dogs in the past and I do love animals.
Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I opened the first Chinese restaurant in San Antonio, Ibiza.

Thanks for visiting my blog Elaine:)

Her books...

What's Eating Me - Eileen Holloway is an obese mother of two, whose husband went out to see a man about a car one night and never came back, struggling to keep all the plates spinning.  But Eileen becomes a celebrity the day her mother puts her forward for Barbara's Beautiful Bodies, a reality TV show which follows the journey of the seriously overweight as they are put on a rigid diet and exercise routine to change their lives for better and for ever. What's Eating Me looks at what happens to her once her journey to reach her target weight is over.
Sweet Lady - the story with a couple of huge twists, where nothing is as it seems!  East London artist Eleanor West is holidaying in Antigua with her daughter Victoria before her latest summer exhibition.  When beach-bum Tyrone walks into their lives, nothing will ever be the same again.

The Singles' Trilogy:-

Singles' Holiday - Antigua, the Caribbean at its most luscious; cloudless, cobalt skies, silver sand, turquoise sea, and a group of total strangers, with just one thing in common: they're single.  Some have come just to have a good holiday; some for something more.  Some will become lifelong friends; others just won't get on.  But it is, perhaps, their tour manager Eve who has the biggest shocks of all as she takes care of her group through sunny days, boozy, balmy nights and a tropical storm as we get to know each group member, while they, in turn, get to know each other.

Singles and Spice - A singles' holiday to India's Golden Triangle - Taj Mahal, the pink city of Jaipur, tiger-spotting in Ranthambore, the noisy, crowded streets of Delhi - all go to make up a trip that is hot, humid and spicy. Eve Mitchell, Travel Together's tour manager extraordinaire has a couple of familiar faces in her little group of travellers and others that she hasn't met before; sexy man-eating pensioners, a compulsive over-eater, a constant whiner and a man with a personal problem. And there's a big surprise awaiting someone -and Eve! - one morning at dawn. By the end of the tour, which sees our group travelling by plane, coach, rickshaw, train and elephant, she will know rather more about some of their innermost secrets than she'd like.

Single All The Way -  Travel Together Tour Manager Eve Mitchell is planning a quiet Christmas at home to rest and relax before an extra-special New Year. But she soon, very unexpectedly, finds herself in the depths of the Essex countryside looking after a singles' group which contains some old, familiar faces and some pleasant - and not so pleasant - new ones. With its country walks, quizzes, disco and black-tie ball, the Christmas and Twixmas Break passes quickly, but just as they think it's all over the plot takes a twist and we learn some dark secrets...

Short Story Collections:-
Holiday Reads - Short stories for your sun-lounger - or wherever! Seven women, each with a different holiday problem. Meet, Olivia, who wishes she wasn't on a tennis holiday; Estelle, alone on a cruise; Fiona who's flying too close for comfort; Shelley, who shouldn't have got involved with a foreigner; Alison who finds our her husband's off on a cruise - but not with her!; Eloise who's having a rotten time in Ibiza and Karla who's desperate for her family holiday in Corfu to go well

Holiday Reads 2 - More quirky short-stories with a holiday theme for reading on the plane, on the beach or by the pool, your back garden on a sunny afternoon or curled up on the sofa if it's raining.

Two Novellas:-

The Christmas Queen - in which we meet up with Eileen Holloway again. Her whole life through, Christmas for Eileen has always started with loads of work and preparation and ended in bitter disappointment, and involved huge amounts of energy and emotion along the way. But this year, although she knows it will be emotional, she's determined things will be very different. This year she's going to be a Christmas Queen...
Weak At The Knees - Estelle is out and about making her Valentine's Day deliveries. What she discovers as she presents four very different women with an armful of flowers is a real eye-opener ...

COMING SOON - THE BANJO - A trilogy set in Dagenham from 1950s - present day.