For a Chat about Bookshops, Detectives, Battenburg Cake and Mallorca…
As my own two novels are based in Glastonbury, and Jan hails from nearby Wells (also in Somerset), I just had to invite her to appear on the blog today to see what she is up to!
Welcome Jan! Please tell us a little about your most recent book, The Bookshop Detective.
Hi Isabella and thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog. I guess my book is best described as a romcom with a hint of mystery and plenty of humour. Read on . . .
The Bookshop Detective
When a ghost ship is spotted on the horizon one spring evening, bookseller Eleanor decides to investigate the myths and legends of Combemouth, the seaside town where she runs The Reading Room. As Eleanor digs deeper into the town’s history, she becomes intrigued by a Victorian crime report and is determined to find out what happened to a boy at the centre of the court case.
As she begins to uncover the truth – aided by the vicar but somewhat stalled by the local librarian – she has a challenge on her own horizon. Daniel – her husband of six months – is determined that they give up their separate homes and find a new place together. But Eleanor adores her cottage by the sea and resists, guaranteeing that things turn a little frosty as the summer begins. A book launch, an exploding dress and some salsa-dancing pensioners make this a mystery with a difference.
What inspired you to write it?
It was partly wish-fulfilment! I’m an ex-publisher who loves books, so my heroine Eleanor runs a quirky bookshop called The Reading Room. I’m very fond of Eleanor and her eccentric bunch of friends and family – especially mother Connie and her octogenarian squeeze, Harold. They made their first appearance my e-novellas (published by Endeavour Press) so I was delighted to revisit them in The Bookshop Detective.
You live in the West Country. How influential are the landscape and people when you are starting a new novel?
Hugely influential. I always strive to evoke the sounds and smells of a place as much as its sights so readers feel involved in the action. The ‘Bookshop by the Sea’ stories are set in a seaside town that I call Combemouth, which is modelled on my favourite parts of the North Devon coast. My characters are fictional, but friends often provide the catalyst for some of the funniest dialogue and events in the books.
I haven’t had one for years, but now you mention it I wouldn’t say no to a slice of Battenberg.
What’s the loveliest thing a reader has said about your writing?
That’s tough because I’ve had some wonderful, heartfelt reviews for my books. One that really touched me was when a reader wrote of French Kisses, ‘There is a distinct joy in reading this book.’ It doesn’t get much better than that.
And the not-so-loveliest?
‘Quite boring’ – that was it!
Favourite place to holiday?
I’ve travelled widely, but if I had loads of dosh I’d buy a gorgeous house in Mallorca and spend hours under a beach parasol with a massive pile of books. Bliss.
If you could choose three authors to invite over for a dinner party (and these have to be authors you haven’t yet met!), who would that trio comprise of?
I’d love to share an evening with David Nicholls, Maggie O’Farrell and George Eliot.
In a very competitive book world, what single piece of advice would you give to those starting out in your genre?
Be prepared to work your socks off once the book has been published.
What can we expect to see from you next?
I’m writing a Christmas ghost story for a local publication then I have a rather nice idea for a murder mystery. I like to ring the changes.
About the author
Jan Ellis began writing fiction by accident in 2013. Until then, she had led a blameless life as a publisher, editor and historian of early modern Spain. She fell into fiction when a digital publisher approached her to write a history book, then made the mistake of mentioning romcom, which sounded much more fun.
Jan’s stories have small-town settings with realistic characters who range in age from young teens to eighty-somethings. She is somewhat surprised to find herself a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
Her books are published by Endeavour Press and Waverley Books.
Follow Jan on Facebook and Twitter @JanEllis_writer
Jan’s Amazon page: http://goo.gl/yqmAey