Q1. Could you tell us a little about yourself as an introduction?
My name is Ellie Holmes and I write commercial women’s fiction and romantic mystery novellas. Both Essex and Cornwall are very dear to my heart and I use those two places as the sources of inspiration for my writing. Like most people I juggle commitments to family and friends with a part time job. When you add writing into the mix it tends to make my days hectic and my nights long but when you enjoy what you do you don’t mind about the long hours.
Q2. When did you realise you loved writing, and what was your journey like in becoming a published author?
I have been making up stories since I was a child. It was a hobby I felt compelled to pursue. It chose me rather than the other way round.
Once I grew up, I continued to write. After a few false starts, I developed a story I felt was potentially publishable and I decided to pursue the idea of writing professionally. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and went to one of their conferences and it was through that conference that I signed a contract with a literary agent. We had several near misses over the years with different books I had written and after ten years of pursuing that elusive traditional publishing deal I decided to go the indie route and take my destiny into my own hands.
Q3. How did it feel when you first held a copy of The Flower Seller in your hands?
It was bittersweet. My parents had longed for that day to happen and they were no longer there to experience it with me so the moment was tinged with sadness but I was also very proud of what I had achieved.
Q4. I love how relatable all the characters are in The Flower Seller. Did you spend time constructing character profiles, or did they just flow?
I do make character notes which I add to as a story unfolds in my mind – their strengths and weaknesses, their goals and dreams, the things they are most afraid of. It’s a handy framework to refer back to especially if the plot takes a detour I hadn’t anticipated which often happens in my writing.
Q5. I found that the locations in the book also felt well researched and were easy to visualise through your writing. Especially ‘The Lodge’ and Wales. Are they based on real locations?
Thank you. I do work hard at making the settings of the book as realistic and relatable as possible.
The Lodge isn’t based on a real house but I had a very strong idea of how the outside would look early on and then conjured up suitable interiors. I love interior design and home magazines and they are a good source of inspiration when you are putting together a look for a particular character’s home.
The holiday in Wales takes place in Hay on Wye. It’s a place I have visited and I love the surrounding countryside. Whenever I go somewhere new I always write up some notes of the look and feel of a place on the off chance it may appear in a later piece of writing and that’s what happened here. What Jessie could see from her hotel room window was pretty much what I could see from mine.
Q6. Do you have a writing routine or any writing quirks?
Because I am limited with the amount of time I can devote to my writing I have to make the most of it so I aim for 5,000 words a week and then spend the rest of my time editing and working on the business side of writing which is less enjoyable but necessary. I don’t know if you would describe it as a writing quirk but I have to write the book in sequence from beginning to end. I know some writers who are able to write scenes out of order and then bring all the scenes together. I couldn’t do that.
Q7. What can we expect next from you? Is there anything in the pipeline?
Coming up next I have a romantic mystery novella called The Tregelian Hoard which will be out in September. It is the first in my Cornish Intrigue series and will feature intrepid portable antiquities specialist Jonquil Jones.
Then in June 2017 I will be publishing my next full length commercial women’s fiction novel White Lies which will tell the story of Sam Davenport as she struggles to reconcile herself to her husband Neil’s actions and we discover what happens when seemingly innocent white lies get out of control.
Review of The Flower Seller
The Flower Seller is one of those rare novels full of heart-wrenching realism, and author Ellie Holmes packs a punch with her talent at emotive writing; breathing life into her characters effortlessly.
Jessie has a life she always dreamed of. A husband, a daughter, a lovely home, and a building career as a lawyer. But has her focus on her job taken its toll on her marriage? Her world shatters when her husband William confesses to an affair and leaves her for a younger woman. As Jessie tries to maintain her decorum and get through each day faced with his betrayal, her friends and family help pick up the pieces and encourage her to move on. I enjoyed Jessie’s strength, as she clearly wasn’t going to let William’s affair dictate her future. She maintains a civil relationship for the sake of her daughter and looks to starting anew.
As she explores her new found freedom, Jessie meets Owen, the owner of a flower stall near where she lives. His clear understanding of her healing journey spurs her on to make a future for herself…with him included. Their romance blossoms and Jessie finds herself feeling like a new version of herself. But does Owen have a secret to hide and will Jessie find herself getting hurt all over again?
Meanwhile, William gradually realises he has made a huge mistake and vows to make Jessie realise that they belong together. Can he convince her that their future is together and that all they really needed was to work on what they had? Had they both just been lost for a while? Or has Jessie’s new relationship with Owen taught her what had been missing from her marriage all along?
I loved that this novel packed a punch of emotions and kept you gripped throughout. There really is no predicting which direction Jessie will take. A compelling and heart-warming debut novel from Ellie, who I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of, and I for one am thoroughly looking forward to what comes next.