Writer Wednesday: Jan Ellis

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 women’s fiction, which sounded much more fun.

Jan writes contemporary romcom with plenty of humour featuring characters who range in age from young teens to 80-somethings. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

The Bookshop Detective will be published by Waverley Books in March 2017. An Unexpected Affair, A Summer of Surprises, French Kisses and A London Affair are available as ebooks (Endeavour Press). Paperback editions will be published in March and June 2017.

1. Why did you want to become a writer?
I trained as a journalist because the careers lady at school said it was a good choice for someone who enjoyed telling stories! I soon moved into book publishing and have been writing and editing non-fiction ever since. I began writing fiction after being approached by Endeavour Press.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
I like to give myself regular frights by starting stories with no idea where they’re heading. My new book (due out next spring) has two historical mysteries in it and I had no idea what the solutions would be. Fortunately, my characters figured them out – phew!

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
There are lots of enjoyable parts, but I always love it when the dialogue begins to flow and my characters come out with lines that make me chuckle. It’s so weird how that happens.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
I’m going to aim high and say Where Angels Fear to Tread because I admire the way EM Forster combines comedy and tragedy with such a light touch.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
That’s tough, but I think I’ll go for Rachel in French Kisses. She survived being dumped by the love-rat husband and opened a guest house in France. She’s fun, full of life and has the best friends and family you could imagine. I’m hoping it all works out well for her and the gorgeous new man...

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
That’s tricky, but I think you could do worse than stroll along the Dorset coast on a golden summer’s evening hand-in-hand with Gabriel Oak.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
Spring 2017 is going to be very exciting as I have a brand-new paperback coming out called The Bookshop Detective featuring my Devon bookseller, Eleanor Mace. The previous two novellas about Eleanor will be published in one paperback volume at the same time. The publishers are calling these books ‘The Bookshop by the Sea’ series. How cool is that? French Kisses and A London Affair will be published in paperback together in the summer when I’ll be sweating over the third story in the new series.

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
I would tell anyone starting out that writing is a lonely business and we all experience bad days when the words won’t come. Be prepared for those times and be kind to yourself.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
I combine writing fiction with various other editorial and sales jobs, so I tend to write at the end of the day, in the evening and at weekends. Having said which, I can’t write without a deadline.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished Barbara Copperthwaite’s Invisible and am about to start Eva Holland’s The Daughter’s Secret. I do love a good thriller!

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