Friday 6 May 2016

Q&A with Jan Ellis, author of A London Affair

TITLE: A London Affair
AUTHOR: Jan Ellis
PUBLISHER: Endeavour Press

PUBLICATION DATE: April 12, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

Turning her back on university, Kate hopes to find an exciting opportunity that will take her away from wellies and wet sheep in the English countryside to the glitz and glamour of London.

However, after a year selling chutney on a chilly market stall, the prospects for a glittering career in the capital are looking increasingly unlikely.

All that changes when Ned, the intriguing buyer from a smart London deli, brings a welcome chance to follow her dream, and Kate finally embarks on a new chapter, leaving behind rural life and ex-boyfriend, Steve, in exchange for six months in the hectic café scene.

In Chelsea, Kate finds a bunch of ready-made friends in her flat-mates and grows close to Clare, Imogen, Freddy and the glamorous Russian heiress, Valentina. Imogen’s many comical attempts to find Kate a boyfriend backfire for Kate, but result in a twist in Immy and Freddy’s relationship.

Friendships deepen and secrets are revealed when Kate accepts an invitation to spend Christmas at the coast with Ned.

Back from the holidays, the flat-mates receive news that changes everything and forces Kate to make some big decisions: stay in London, return home or follow her heart to Cornwall?

How did the process leading up to your debut novel go? I understand it wasn’t the original intention for you to write a “women’s fiction” novel…

I'm a bit embarrassed to answer that when people spend years slogging away trying to get published . . . I have written and edited plenty of non-fiction over the years (under another name), and I was approached by Richard Foreman, the publisher of the newly launched Endeavour Press, to come up with a history title for him. Richard didn't like any of my proposals but suggested that I write some fiction for him instead. I was a bit surprised, but the first rule of being self-employed is to say 'yes' to everything and figure out how to do it afterwards. Two months later I delivered my first novella, An Unexpected Affair and the rest followed from there.

You recently announced your ebooks will be going into paperback form – how did that come about and how excited are you to see your books in print?

I am very excited because I never expected my stories to come out in paperback. The publisher at Waverley Books was recommended to read my ebooks on holiday and she loved them. A year or so later when she was expanding Waverley's fiction list she asked me if paperback rights were available on the novellas, and they were!

An Unexpected Affair, French Kisses and A Summer of Surprises all feature recurring characters – will we see any of them return in future books?

For anyone who hasn't read the books, my main character in An Unexpected Affair and A Summer of Surprises is Eleanor Mace, who owns a bookshop in a very dinky Devon seaside town. Her mum Connie is stepping out with Harold whose daughter Rachel runs the gorgeous guest house in French Kisses. Anyway, to answer your question . . . Yes! Waverley Books loved my characters so I'm writing a brand-new story featuring Eleanor, Connie and the crew for publication in 2017.

Have you had a favourite character to write?

Before I wrote A London Affair, I would have said Eleanor's sister Jenna, who has all the best lines and a nose for fun. However, I grew very fond of Kate, the young heroine of my London story. I sent her on some terrible blind dates, poor girl!

When are we going to see a new Jan Ellis book? Can you tell us anything about it?

The new paperback will be out in time for summer 2017. The story will be set in Eleanor's Devon bookshop again but this time she will have a mystery to solve. Our working title is The Bookshop Detective.

The location is always a beautiful, stand-out aspect of your books. How do you choose the settings? Have you spent time in all the places you’ve written about?

The locations in England, France and Mallorca are all based on places I've visited. Of course, I adapt and develop them, but I can see every beach, bookshop and London deli very clearly in my mind's eye.

How would you say being a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association has affected your writing career?

I think the RNA is a great organisation and I'm very proud to be part of it. Being a member makes me feel like a proper author. Undoubtedly the best thing has been the opportunity to meet other writers at the parties and through social media. They're a grand lot.

How much attention do you pay to reviews of your books?

Lots. To read a positive review has me dancing around the room with joy. It's disappointing when someone hasn't enjoyed a story, but that's okay because I don't expect to please everybody. The reviews that have me swearing at the screen and kicking the cat are the 1-star reviews by people who buy a book by mistake then complain because it doesn't contain elves/vampires/cowboys. Sigh.

Do you get plenty of time to read for yourself? Who are some of your favourite authors?

I don't seem to have much time to read at all at the moment. I don't have favourite authors so much as favourite books, but I've just scanned my shelves and they're an eclectic bunch. In no particular order: Anita Shreve, David Nicholls, EM Forster, CJ Sansom, David Lodge, Julian Barnes, Michael Frayn, AS Byatt, Margaret Atwood, Maggie O'Farrell, Liane Moriarty. I could go on . . .

What one novel that you have read has been the most memorable – the one that has stuck with you for the longest time – and why was that book so difficult to forget?

A Going back to school days, I suppose it was Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy. The scene where Angel Clare carries all of the girls over the water just so he can hold Tess in his arms for a few moments has to be one of the most romantic ever written. Hardy is also a master at conjuring up a sense of place.

If you woke up one day, Freaky Friday style, and found yourself living the life of one other author – who would you want that author to be and why?

Can I be Katie Fforde, please? She's such a great writer and a lovely person to boot. I've met her at RNA parties and she's never too grand to talk to fiction minnows like myself.


Follow Jan on Facebook and Twitter @JanEllis_writer

Jan's Amazon page:


  1. Thanks so much for having me, Sophie! Xx

  2. A lovely interview ladies. I shall be looking closely at Katie Fforde in future just incase your wish has come true...

    1. Katie and I are as one. (I wish!).


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