Saturday 22 September 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Elizabeth Woodcraft

On Hist Fic Saturday I am delighted to welcome to the blog, best selling author

Elizabeth Woodcraft

Welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Elizabeth, I'm so thrilled to have you as my special guest today

Do tell us about yourself and how you were inspired to start writing your novels

I began writing when I was at school so then I wrote mostly on Sundays because we weren’t allowed to go out to play on Sundays. When I started to keep a diary I was 12 and I would write every night, in bed, hunched over the pages, because I slept in the lower bunk of bunk beds. My sister slept in the top bunk. 

I began writing my crime novels (Good Bad Woman and Babyface) while I was still working as a barrister. The good thing about being a barrister is you’re always writing documents that attempt to persuade as well as interest and even entertain your reader. So you are always honing your craft because the judge will tell you pretty smartly if your argument isn’t logical or lacks an important part of the story. 

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Most of the fiction I wrote in those days was for my writing class. The class at City Lit in Holborn in London, was held on a Saturday afternoon, so in the morning I would be scribbling away. I couldn’t tell anyone at work that I was writing because – really – everyone wants to be a writer and I knew people would just yawn and say ‘Yeah, yeah.’ But the day I got a two-book deal from HarperCollins I was so excited I went into my chambers and told them all. Well, everyone who was in the clerks’ room. Basically, it was the clerks, all the barristers were in court. Immediately their question was, ‘What’s it about?’ and when I said it involved a barrister and her chambers they all said, ‘Am I in it? Am I in it?’ And in fact, one of the clerks, Lee, was in the book, in one short scene. 

It was at a time in my barrister’s career when I was representing a client whose case had gone to the House of Lords – the highest court in the land (now the Supreme Court). I was about to leave chambers to go to the hearing and as I said goodbye to the clerks I said, proudly, ‘I’m just off to the House of Lords.’ Lee, one of the senior clerks, looked me up and down in my barrister’s smart outfit and said, ‘In those shoes?’ I thought that was very funny, although a bit disconcerting. Fortunately in court your shoes are usually hidden. But that was the quote that went into the book. 

I’d written the first book, then I had to write the second one. 

I cut back on my barrister work which was something I could do fairly easily, because barristers are technically self-employed, although long-running cases had a habit of getting in the way. But the second book got written. 

Now I have left the bar and writing is my first career. I have to say it’s a whole lot harder now to sit down and do it, because now I am totally the mistress of my own time. And there are all those other activities which are calling to me - going out for coffee, going to the flicks (watching a film in the afternoon when the cinema is almost empty is one of the greatest pleasures on earth), reading newspapers, books and magazines, doing a sudoku or two, and occasionally going for a short stroll (exercise). It’s a challenge. But it’s a great life.

Huge thanks to Elizabeth for being my guest  author today 

and for sharing her thoughts about her writing...


Elizabeth's latest novel The Saturday Girls was published

 by  Zaffre on 30th August 2018. 

 ✧Here's what it's all about ✧

It's 1964. England has shaken off its post-war gloom and the world is full of possibilities.

Best friends Sandra and Linda live on a housing estate in Essex. They are aspiring mods: they have the music, the coffee bar and Ready Steady Go! on a Friday night.

Having landed their first jobs, Linda and Sandra look set. But the world is changing rapidly, and both girls have difficult choices to make. As Sandra blindly pursues a proposal, Linda finds herself drawn to causes she knows are worth fighting for.

But when Sandra's quest leads her to local bad boy Danny, she lands both her and Linda in more trouble than they bargained for . . .

Here are my thoughts about The Saturday Girls...

The Saturday Girls evokes that special time in the 1960s when every suburban town had its share of trendy coffee bars and the most important question for teenagers at the time, wasn't about nuclear disarmament or The Cold War, but was, for them, far more significant... are you a mod or a rocker?

Best friends, Linda and Sandra, are typical teenagers, fashionable mods, from their C&A twinsets, to their neatly pressed grey skirts. They enjoy innocent nights out, lust after inappropriate boys and generally have a really good time. However, times are a-changing and when Linda and Sandra start to become more independent, they realise that life isn't always very simple.

The author writes with confidence and enthusiasm, and as she explains in her notes at the end of the book, this was her time and the diaries she kept and her vivid memories have stayed with her. I was too young in the sixties to understand what it was like to be a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, with momentous change all around, and so this story certainly helped to bring time and place alive in my imagination.

I travelled back to a newly progressive time when boys with Lambrettas and girls with beehive hairstyles would meet and chat over coffees to plan their nights out. Futures would be decided and yet, for some, life wasn't always very kind, the ugly stigma of illegitimacy, and the unfairness of being ostracised for being an unmarried mother was still very much in existence, and the race to the altar, to be a wife was, for some girls, their life's ambition.

I really enjoyed being whisked back to suburban Essex in the 1960s in The Saturday Girls and I am sure that the author has more stories of this fascinating time to share.

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