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 (Endeavour Press) approached her to write a history book, then made the mistake of mentioning women’s fiction, which sounded much more fun.
She is somewhat surprised to find herself a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and hopes that her recent venture into mystery will allow her to hang-out with crime-writing friends, as they seem to have excellent parties.
The first two titles in 'The Bookshop by The Sea' series plus French Kisses and A London Affair were published in paperback by Waverley Books in 2017.
Meet the author:
What genres do you write?
I guess I'm best known for contemporary romcom with the emphasis on humour rather than the soppy stuff. My stories have small-town settings with realistic characters who range in age from young teens to 80-somethings. Recently, I have had a go at 'cosy crime' for my new book, which was great fun!
How do you choose the settings of your books?
When I was commissioned back in 2013 I had never written fiction before, so it made sense to write about things I was familiar with. My background is in publishing and I still work in the book trade, so it seemed natural for my character Eleanor Mace to own a bookshop. And – like me – she has moved to the West Country from London.
Have you visited any of the areas which you’ve written about?
Yup – all of them. I lived in the capital for most of my life so the posh deli where Kate works in A London Affair is based on a real shop. When I describe Rachel’s hilltop village in the South of France (in French Kisses), and the Devon bookshop in 'The Bookshop by The Sea' series, I can see the settings very clearly in my mind’s eye.
What do you enjoy most about writing a story?
I really enjoy writing dialogue – especially the funny stuff – and love it when the characters start chattering away and all I need do is write it down. It may sound a bit potty, but that’s exactly how it happens.
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 paperback The Bookshop Detective has two historical mysteries in it and I had no idea what the solutions would be. Fortunately, my characters figured them out – phew!
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 ever since.
Traditional versus epublishing: which is best?
Traditional, without a doubt. It is thanks to a digital publisher commissioning my four novellas that I began writing fiction, but my heart is in the print culture I grew up with.
Do your books sell abroad?
Yes! The English editions of the ebooks did surprisingly well in France and three of my novellas were translated into German. We're hoping the new paperbacks will do as well.
Have you attended any creative writing courses?
Nope. I just wing it. I probably should, but then I'd discover all of the things I've been doing wrong for the past four years . . .
Where can people buy your books?
They can be bought at Waterstones and other high street shops. You can also buy them online, but I love bookshops and feel very strongly that we should support them.
Where can people find you on the internet?
Ebooks first published by
Endeavour Press, 2013–16;
paperbacks by Waverley Books, 2017