Ella and I signed for Ruby Fiction at around the same time as I did and we took part in the Choc-lit festival last year. So with her first book finally being released I was so excited to sit down for a chat again.
Hey Ella, and welcome to my blog “A Story About A Girl” I am really looking forward to learning more about your book “Beyond Grey”
What inspired you to write “Beyond Grey?”
A truly horrible journey home. We’d been visiting my parents, and got caught in a truly terrible storm around 30 miles from home. We’d come too far to turn around, and we were miles from services. It was all too easy to imagine an accident could happen. So that’s where the opening line and the storyline in which Jenn dies unexpectedly came from.
As to the idea of life after death, and that spirits could be around us and watching over us even after they’ve left our world? It’s something I’ve always believed in. There have been moments of inspiration, feelings of guidance, and white feathers in my life too.
What made you decide to submit with ChocLit?
I’d read a lot of their books in the past, and knew the name. I saw the Ruby imprint at about the same time my amazing group of writing friends were nagging me to start submitting (and stop being such a wimp). The stars aligned and here we are (though maybe there was some guardian angel type intervention too?)
If you could go back to when you first started writing what one piece advice would you give yourself?
Scrap the self-doubt. Quit the pity party (because I was good at that!) and get on and WRITE. Write what you love, and what you would want to read, and hopefully others will love it and want to read it too.
Oh, and get a decent lap desk. I’m terrible for writing on the couch, and it’s not good having my laptop on my lap!
If you weren’t writing what would you be doing?
Probably cooking, or crocheting. Or reading. Or video-calling with friends. Although, there is a 15,000 piece jigsaw of star constellations taking up half the dining table as well that we need to finish. It’s too cold for gardening, and we’re back in lockdown again!
How did you deal with rejections when you started out?
When I first finished Beyond Grey, I sent it to a couple of agents, got no replies, and moth-balled it. Which was one of the silliest things I could have done. But it does mean that I got to meet the amazing team at Ruby, and that my debut is right in the middle of a pandemic.
Beyond Grey is primarily a story about healing from grief, and finding the light beyond the agonising grey of bereavement. It’s about hope, and who doesn’t need a bit more of that right now?
What would you say to someone who wants to write?
Just do it. Open a notepad – or a new document – and just write. Learn the basics – things like punctuation, structure, how to tag dialog – and then just write. And don’t get disenchanted when your first drafts are less than perfect. You will almost never read the first draft of anything from a good writer: It will have been reviewed and edited – probably multiple times – before you get to see it. So expect to edit too.
Do you have any writing routines or rituals if so what are they?
I don’t really have any. I work full time, so write as and when I can. The nearest thing I probably have to a ritual is making sure I have a big cup of tea nearby. I also always try to jot down notes to myself as to what I want to write next – it makes it so much quicker and easier to pick up the next day!
Which authors inspired you to write?
There have been so, so many. My reading taste is eclectic: Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pearce, Enid Blyton, Judy Blume. And most recently, Ann Evans.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
A bit a of mix I think. There will always be love and romance of some kind in my books – that’s just who I am. And hopefully humour as well, because I think it’s needed in life. And there will always, always be hope and happy endings.
More About Ella
Ella’s been obsessed with books since she was a toddler. She decided to become a writer as soon as she realised that stringing letters together in the right order could actually be a career.
She grew up in the outskirts of London, where fairies lived at the bottom of her Grandma’s garden, so it isn’t surprising that she still looks for magic in everyday life – and often finds it.
When she’s not living in a fantasy world of her own creation, she writes bids and develops programmes for children’s services. She lives in rural Warwickshire (where there are probably more fairies) with her husband who is ever loving and understanding, and makes her gallons of tea in magical cups that can keep drinks warm for whole chapters.
Throughout lockdown, Ella’s spent a lot of time cleaning (who hasn’t), crocheting rainbows, and writing. She’s got two new novels in progress – but did take a few breaks to write a stories (featuring a lot more dinosaur poop and talking animals than her usual style) for some very special youngsters spending birthdays in shielded lockdown.
Check out the YouTube video of Ella, Helen and myself chatting during the Choc-lit festival
What if you became an outsider in your own life?
Jennifer Hughes doesn’t have an extraordinary life, but that doesn’t matter – she loves her family and enjoys her job as a teacher. In her eyes, her unextraordinary life is utterly perfect.
But then, in the blink of an eye, Jennifer finds herself cut off from everything she knew and loved, confined to a strange new world and forced to watch from a distance as her family and friends pick up the pieces.
Can Jennifer hold her perfect life together, even though she’s not living it herself