Ella Carey and her epic heartbreaking World War I story, The Girl From Paris, kick off the show this week, taking us from war-torn Paris of the First World War to the fabulous fashion scene of 1920s New York.
Seamstress Vianne believes she’s lost her sister in the war. She sees the rubble surrounding her and has the evidence of her own eyes, but when she gets to New York she’s forced to face a new reality.
Hi there, I’m your host Jenny Wheeler and in Binge Reading today Ella talks about the remarkable couturier scene in 1920s New York, her Daughters of New York series, and her lifelong passion for all things French.
We’ve got another free giveaway. As you know, we do this every week. This week it’s the Chocolate Magic Mystery Box series, seven cozy mysteries by author Olivia Swift.
Create your own magical moment. Grab a coffee and some chocolate while you dive into seven cozy mysteries.
And don’t forget, for the cost of less than a cup of coffee a month you can get exclusive bonus content – like hearing Ella’s answers to the five quickfire questions – by becoming a Binge Reading on Patreon supporter.
We’ve got a new feature starting on Patreon this month, Encore, a monthly chat with authors who have already been on the show, talking about their latest exciting release.
It’s shorter than a normal episode, 15-20 minutes. First up in the second week of June is popular international author Gill Paul talking about The Collector’s Daughter, her new dual timeline novel about the English aristocrat Lady Eve Herbert – famous not only because she was born and grew up in Highclere, the manor house that features in Downton Abbey, but she was also part of the first ever global media sensation, the uncovering of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt in the 1920s.
As usual, the links to everything we’ve talked about in this show can be found on the Binge Reading website.
Links to this episode:
Ella Carey Books:
Paris Time Capsule: https://www.ellacarey.com/library/paris-time-capsule/
House From The Lake: https://www.ellacarey.com/library/the-house-by-the-lake/
From A Paris Balcony: https://www.ellacarey.com/library/from-a-paris-balcony/
Daughters of New York series: https://www.ellacarey.com/library/a-new-york-secret/
Maid by Nita Prose https://www.amazon.com/Maid-Novel-Nita-Prose/dp/0593356152
Belle Epoch artist Giovanni Boldini https://www.wikiart.org/en/giovanni-boldini
Belle Epoch courtesan: Marthe de Florian https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marthe_de_Florian
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman: https://www.amazon.com/A-Thursday-Murder-Club-Mystery-3-book-series/dp/B08RDVHNTB
Alexander McCall Smith: https://www.alexandermccallsmith.co.uk/
Rhys Bowen: https://rhysbowen.com/
(Enduring Storyteller – Rhys on Joys of Binge Reading)
AND A (Royal) Wedding and Four Funerals:
Fiona Valpy: https://www.fionavalpy.com/
(French For Always- Fiona on Joys of Binge Reading) https://thejoysofbingereading.com/fiona-valpy-ww-ii-drama/
Encore over the next few weeks:
Where to find Ella Carey
What follows is a “near as” transcript of our conversation, not word for word but pretty close to it, with links to the show notes in The Joys of Binge Reading.com for important mentions.
But that’s enough of the housekeeping. Here’s Ella.
Introducing historical author Ella Carey
Jenny Wheeler: Hello there, Ella and welcome to the show. It’s great to have you with us.
Ella Carey: Thank you so much, Jenny, for having me today. It’s lovely to be here and to see you from where you are in New Zealand and me here in Melbourne.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, it’s wonderful. From Melbourne you are writing these international and Amazon charts best sellers – women’s fiction stories set in Europe, mainly World War I and World War II. You had one real bestseller, Lost in Berlin. You have had more than a couple of books but Lost in Berlin really started to make a name for you.
This year you’ve just published The Girl From Paris. That’s the one we’re going to be spending a bit of time on today – World War II Paris and post-war years in New York. It’s a romance and a family mystery all rolled into one. Give us an idea of where you started your career in fiction and where have you got to now?
Ella Carey: I think I’ve always had this love and fascination with creativity, since I was a little girl. It started off with music. I remember watching this show on television and, this gives away my age, but Jane Peters was this very famous violinist. I was fascinated with her passion for playing the violin. I distinctly remember her youngest sister saying she wanted to play the piano. I must have been seven or eight. I basically pigeonholed my parents and said, I want to play the piano. I was the youngest of four and they were like, no, everybody else has tried that. Forget it.
Beginning with music and Eng Lit.
But I insisted. They borrowed this old piano with yellowing keys, but I pushed through. It started off with music and I ended up doing a music degree at the Conservatorium in Adelaide, but when I was there, I also did an Arts degree. I was studying English Lit. I had always read. I loved reading. I always had this overactive imagination and I would make up lots of stories as a little girl.
It was then, at Uni, late teens, early twenties, that I fell in love with the whole world of writing and authors and books. I had an amazing English lecturer who one year said, go and sit at the Adelaide Writers Festival for the week. Don’t come to Uni. And I did. I sat there and I thought, this is what I want to do. I was writing. While I was at Uni I was writing poetry, kind of charting that emotional stuff you go through while you’re at Uni, all the rubbish. I ended up throwing those away.
But then right through my twenties while I was teaching, and in my thirties while I was raising children and teaching, I was writing. I had these exercise books. If we had authors coming to visit and I was teaching at school, I would say, look at this. Then I bought a laptop and started writing more seriously and was constantly going to conferences. I started educating myself and worked with mentors. I worked with manuscript appraisal agencies in the UK. For some reason I went through the UK because I’d read so many UK based books, but I also had quite a community here in Australia.
Magic story of abandoned Paris apartment
Eventually I got to the point where I heard about this abandoned apartment in Paris. I had been writing a novel set in Adelaide around a mystery with painting and the past, but I was sick of it and I thought, I need something fresh. I read about this apartment in Paris that had been abandoned. This woman, on the eve of the Nazi invasion of Paris, just fled and she never went back. In 2010 she died, and her family realized she’d owned this apartment that was completely preserved, but all full of artifacts from the 1890s.
They were able to trace this back to belonging to their great grandmother and she was this famous courtesan in France during the Belle Époch. I thought, why did she abandon? What would make you go? So I wrote Paris Time Capsule. While I had written various other novels, I hadn’t done anything with them. They’d gone out to mentors. I had had encouragement though. Actually that’s not true – I had sent one to a publisher and she said, you’ll get there. Keep writing. Just work a little bit more on X, Y, and Z. So I’d had a lot of encouragement, which was really important, I think. Aspiring writers need that.
When I wrote Paris Time Capsule I holed away on my own. I suppose you could say you’ve found your thing, your voice or whatever it was. It was back in 2014 and the publishing landscape was changing.
Passion always there for creativity
I had read about these writers self-publishing their books, and I thought, what would be really great would be to get some reader feedback. If I get 15 people to read this thing and tell me if it’s any good, that would be helpful.
I self-published it and had a little cover designed and put it out there to try and get feedback. It went to number 10 in the U S. It was ridiculous. I was living in Hobart at the time, and I thought, what are all these people doing in the Kindle store? Then the reviews started coming in and I started getting approached by publishers. Back then they were in the U S and so the book was picked up by a big publisher in the U S. They edited it, designed a new cover, and it sold really well.
Six novels were published with that publisher and several foreign rights additions. Now I’m with a British publisher, an imprint of Hachette who is absolutely fantastic, and the foreign rights additions are rolling along. I guess it was a slightly different path, and I was probably looking at what was happening at the time. It was just a matter of synergy, but that passion has always been there for something creative – whether it was music then and now it’s writing.
Jenny Wheeler: That is an amazing story. You do get a little bit of a hint of that on your website, which is why I asked the question. Although you don’t go into all the details, there is a sense that you’ve probably had quite a long apprenticeship for this overnight success. People might look at you and say, oh, wow, where did she come from, but you’ve been working at it a long time.
The discipline of learning a craft
Ella Carey: During those years I was studying the craft and practicing writing. I think the piano practice helped to be honest, the discipline of sitting down and doing something on my own. I wrote a thousand words every day when I was working and I had the children little. I was just there. That was my thing, and I needed that time. I always have.
Jenny Wheeler: Looking to Paris Time Capsule for a moment, because a bit further on I did plan to ask you how much you depended on real life stories for some of your plot lines. Was that story about the abandoned apartment a true story? Did that actually happen?
Ella Carey: Absolutely. Yes, it did. The photos of this apartment were all over the internet. Back in 2010 it was discovered. This woman had died in the south of France in her eighties or nineties, and her family didn’t realize that she had abandoned this apartment in 1940 in June on the eve of the Nazi invasion, as everybody did. They left Paris. When they went in to open this apartment up, they discovered that while it had been lived in the 1930s and into 1940, the decor and all the artifacts in it were this amazing treasure trove of stuff from the Belle Époch.
There was this stuffed emu, there were all these shawls and beautiful clothes, and on the wall there was a portrait of this absolutely beautiful woman. They had an art expert in who said that’s by Giovanni Boldini, who was one of the leading portrait painters during the Belle Époch. He very much painted women and he painted this portrait they discovered.
A famous Belle Époch courtesan and
It was of Marthe de Florian, who was a very famous Belle Époch courtesan. They were very much on the fringes of society, these courtesans, and they have been recognized by historians as the first women who earned their own living but look how they had to do it.
She was a seamstress and had absolutely no money, it was discovered. She had these affairs with European royalty and they showered her with gifts, and so the apartment was full of these. But what really burned with me was why did her granddaughter in 1940 abandon that apartment and never go back? It was just left. It was preserved, and the electricity bills had been paid.
So yes, it was true. That inspired me, and I knew I wanted, for some reason, to write three novels about it. There was Paris Time Capsule and then The House by the Lake and From a Paris Balcony. They are complete fiction, my books, but those first three novels were all inspired by that story. I think finding those sorts of things and where there’s a mystery and you love history, it was synergy. It was catnip. It came together.
Jenny Wheeler: Let me ask you about those electricity bills. Did the granddaughter who died in her eighties or nineties continue to pay the electricity bills? Was it her that did that, do you know?
Ella Carey: I think so. Yes.
Jenny Wheeler: So she knew about it, but she didn’t ever speak about it to the family.
Ella Carey: No, exactly.
High fashion in New York in the 1920s
Jenny Wheeler: The Girl From Paris, which is your most recent one, gives a wonderful picture of the high fashion world of New York post the First World War. It’s set in the 20s. This Parisienne Vianne has escaped from the horrors of war. The reason is partly that her mother and sister were both killed in a very tragic church bombing towards the end of the war when they were hoping they we’re all going to be surviving, so she fled Paris to make a new life for herself in America. You’ve got a lot of the stories based around the fashion industry in New York in the late 40s. How did you get the research for all the detail about those dresses? It’s very explicit detail. You can really picture what they’re wearing and what they’re creating.
Ella Carey: I’m so pleased to hear that. That’s good. I’m glad they worked. I’ve had several readers contact me and say I want photos of these dresses. They were all inspired by real garments. This is the third book in a New York series. I went to New York in 2019, right before the pandemic, and I was lucky to be able to spend quite some time there researching the first book, A New York Secret. Because this was a series, I was able to draw on a lot of that for location research in New York.
In terms of the fashion, I love fashion. I have long had a love of beautiful clothes and complete admiration for the creativity that goes into that. What I did was, I bought books.
Escaping into pandemic fashion research
Because I was in the pandemic, I was at home in Melbourne, so – literally they are all on my desk – I used books from museums like The Met that had collections of 1920s dresses, and Victoria and Albert. I also looked at books on New York in the 1920s and the Jazz Age because that was quite a big thing.
I had a really interesting book on fashion during the First World War in Paris and in France. I also looked at YouTube videos from the time. You can get immense detail. But in these books, it was so lovely because I was in the pandemic and of course we all know in Melbourne we’ve been locked down right through 2021 as well. I just escaped. I had my set up with these books and it was translating that detail into words, and then reading about the effort that went into these dresses.
What really fascinated me with the 1920s was the flapper dress. They were one shape; they were a tubular dress, and the whole concept was around freedom for women. They had come out of the Spanish Flu pandemic, come out of World War I, and there was this whole idea that you had the modern woman, that it was very fashionable to get out there. They were going to jazz clubs. They were working. They were free of course.
But what was fascinating about the dresses was the detail in the embellishment. It was the beading and the embroidery that took hours. It was exquisite, looking at the intricacy of that.
A famous Adriana Conti dress
Perhaps one of the most important dresses in the book is the dress Vianne designs for Adriana Conti for the opening of her son’s restaurant in New York. That was this stunning black and white dress. It was all braided and it had this beautiful diaphanous kind of cloak with layers of chenille trim.
There were so many. I’ve got the books. I look at these pictures and gasp at the beauty. They were gorgeous. It was really fun research, but it was also very beautiful research and I have a huge amount of respect for the work that went into those dresses.
Jenny Wheeler: Is the Adriana Conti dress still extant? Is it in a museum somewhere?
Ella Carey: Yes. That was exhibited at the Victoria and Albert. I think it might be part of their collection. I was talking to my editor about that, and she said you can go in and they will get things out and show you if you write to them.
There was a big exhibition of 1920s fashion and that book was fantastic. There was another one I had from the Met, and I also researched designers and read a lot about the individual designers and the women, which was really great.
It was the women who were keeping that industry going in France throughout World War I because it was such an important industry. So yes, that dress absolutely is still in existence and it had been exhibited.
Linking historical research to real life
Jenny Wheeler: One of the other things, looking back to talking about how you link into real life, I did wonder about one of the subplots in that story. This woman steals one of the other designer’s clothes, steals couture garments, and makes them for department stores very quickly. She makes a cheaper rip-off version but doesn’t credit the original designer, so she’s taking all the credit for the designs. I suspect that also was a true thing that was happening at the time, was it?
Ella Carey: Absolutely. It was interesting because in France particularly, what was happening is they had magazines where they would show dresses and garments and designs and the specifications and have a little article about what other countries were doing.
They were taking those articles from magazines and claiming them as their own, because there was a lot of competition. Paris was the center of fashion, but even before World War I Germany wanted to be the center of fashion, so they would take these dresses and then they would be copied and made.
The other interesting aspect of that research was that women used to go to a dressmaker, to a haberdasher, a drapery, and choose their fabric and they’d go to a dressmaker and have something made up for themselves. You had the emergence of mass market department stores in the late 19th century, early 20th century.
There were fashion parades in the stores and back in the day the garments were all being made in America, in New York.
Hard working women who created fashion
These seamstresses were sweating on the top floors in very hardened conditions, making these clothes in America, and they were blatantly copying French designers and also designers and putting them out for the mass market.
It’s a problem with anything – the creativity and not acknowledging it. That was starting up. The third part of that is Eloise. I wanted to make her a real character and a real person with real conflicts and a personal life of her own and a story.
How did she get to become this very successful Upper East Side couturier through her own hard work? Then her personal journey and looking at how devastating that would be for an individual to have this blatantly taken by the mass market because they could. and how she overcame that.
It was interesting doing the research, looking at the French fashion industry and the way they were copied. The outcome of it all was you’ve got to be better. You’ve got to outshine this. You can sue, you can do all that and get into wrangles, but at the end of the day, it’s copying and copying is stealing.
It just came to me. I didn’t want her to be superficial, clichéd. I really came to admire this industry for the hard work, very much by women, working in it.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes. To clarify for people who haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, Eloise is the woman that Vianne manages to secure a job with and, in the end, build her own New York career. It very much revolves around their relationship as well as some other people.
A lot of these books we’ve talked about have been set in France, and you mention on your website that you’ve been an absolute passionate Francophile almost from childhood. How did that come about?
How the love of France developed
Ella Carey: At the school I went to, for our principal, French was her thing. We grew up having French breakfasts with croissants and singing French songs and learning French. I don’t think, when I was five, that I really connected with France, but I kept going with French. I love history, so when I was studying history in year 12, we were looking at the French Revolution and French history, so it was kind of a second thing growing up.
Again, it’s that same thing. It’s the fascination with beauty and elegance and design and the culture and the food. At the end of year 12, I was lucky enough to go to Europe the very first time, and I will never forget landing in Paris and that first drive through Paris and seeing the Arc de Triomphe all lit up, and there I was.
Then as an adult, I went back to the Alliance Française and picked up when my children were little and I needed something for myself. I went back and studied French and that became a whole lovely thing again, that escape. I’ve traveled around France a lot, so it has been from a very young age. There’s so much poignancy in history and it’s the culture and the difference in the country. There are so many different areas and you can travel and the architecture is completely different in one place. It’s a gorgeous country.
Sitting in Melbourne writing about Europe
Jenny Wheeler: Tell me how you have been affected by the pandemic, because obviously travel still is a little curtailed, although it may be opening up by this time later next year perhaps. How are you bearing with that, and have you got anything on the boil which has been a bit blocked by the fact that you can’t travel?
Ella Carey: Absolutely. I’m in a strange situation. I’m sitting here in Melbourne writing but my job is overseas. It’s in London, so I’m constantly every day emailing or talking to my editors and my agent there. They want me to come over.
There is a seminar I’d like to go to and I’ve got other colleagues, other writers in my publishing house I’d love to go and meet. We chat every day on Facebook, we’ve got a group. It’s good for a writer in some ways to have that solitude and that alone time, but I think you also do need the connectivity. Because my career is over there, it is a little difficult.
I was going to try and go soon, in May, but then Omicron happened. I would have liked to have gone last year as well. When I was working out of the U S I went to New York to research A New York Secret. My editor was based in Seattle, but she flew all the way to New York to meet me. There’s something about sitting down and having a chat that is very different. I think what I’ll try and do is go twice a year when this is over and I’m able to get there. It’s also doing the research. It makes a huge difference.
One thing that’s the secret of success?
Jenny Wheeler: We are starting to come to the end of our time together, so turning away from the specific books to looking at your wider career, if there was one thing you see as the secret of your working career, either in publishing or outside of publishing, what would it be?
Ella Carey: Persistence. Don’t give up. It’s a very tough industry to get into, but so many industries are tough, so it’s self-belief. It’s having the belief in yourself and knowing, hang on. I’ve got by in the past, I’ll get through this and I’ll keep going. It’s persisting in the face of change and adapting is so important. That’s the one thing I’m proud of and then things have come together. It’s that dedication, that persistence and belief in yourself.
Jenny Wheeler: When you started out with your writing, what was your main goal at the beginning and have you long ago surpassed that goal?
Ella Carey: I think the main goal was to get published and to work in this industry. It goes back to sitting at that writers’ festival in Adelaide and thinking, I love this. I want to be a part of this – the conversations, the dialogue, the stories. I love stories, the characters, so I really wanted to get published.
I think I always had a very innate deep down wanting to be a career author and to be writing full time as a writer. Not necessarily out of admiration for other people who were doing that, because I love doing it, and because I can’t not write.
‘If you do what you love, it’s not work’
There’s that old saying, if you can do what you love, it’s not work. It’s just not work. I’ll happily write seven days a week. You’ve got to pull me away. In fact, a day when I don’t get to write is a bad day. I measure myself. I’ve got an interruption, I’ve got to go to the dentist or something, it’s like, oh.
To me, it was that very intrinsic love of doing this. It was an aim to get published. Have I surpassed it? I definitely didn’t ever think this would happen. It just came about. It’s step by step. This happens, then this happens, and you’re in the middle of it. Sometimes life is going on outside of it as it does, and you sit there and think, this is great. I’ve got this for me. No matter what else is happening outside, I’ve got that little thing for me, which is fantastic. So yes, it’s definitely surpassed. I’m very devoted, but very grateful.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s wonderful. Do you have a particular writing routine? Do you set aside certain hours?
Ella Carey: Yes, I do. I work very regularly every day during the week. My best writing time is in the morning, so if I can get a really good stretch in I’ll do that. Then I’ve got two little dogs, so they do need to be walked. I do a lot of walking with them and swimming. I do a lot of Pilates, but during the week it’s the writing chunks, and then exercising as well.
What Ella Carey is reading now
But when I’m under deadline, for example, I just delivered book ten on Friday, I worked every day from Christmas. I knew I had to go seven days a week and I was pushing myself. By Friday last week, I was just, that’s too much. But I do have a routine. It’s a job, so I very much treat it like a job. I have a word count, so I’ll work to word count. I make sure, I write it all down, that I hit that word count for the day. Sometimes I will stop at 3 o’clock and think, that’s enough. I’m starting to write rubbish. I’m looking and I can tell that this is no good.
Jenny Wheeler: Turning to Ella as reader because this is The Joys of Binge Reading. We like to ask about your recommendations for other books, particularly popular fiction that people might like to read for their entertainment or comfort or escape, and sometimes series as well. It’s interesting that you have written a number of trilogies. They fit together. What are you reading at the moment? What are some of your favorites from the past? What would you like to recommend to others?
Ella Carey: At the moment I’m reading a book called The Maid by Nita Prose which is storming away in the charts all over the world. It’s a debut novel about a maid working in America and she discovers a dead body in this grand hotel. But she’s quirky. She’s definitely on the spectrum. She is a really interesting character, so that’s great. I’m really enjoying that.
Ella Carey’s long term favorite authors
I did enjoy The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. Again, that was gorgeous. That was a group of people in an elderly retirement home and they were trying to solve a murder. That was fun. I love Rhys Bowen and Fiona Valpy’s books, who are fellow authors. I enjoy their historical fiction.
Long-term favorites, one of the brightest, I love Alexander McCall Smith. I love his Edinburgh series, anything he writes. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency I really enjoy. That’s a long-term favorite. I also love the classics – Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is probably the book. That twist. I remember reading that as a teenager and I will go back and read Rebecca. Anything set in Cornwall. I love her books. And then Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte.
At the moment, exactly as you say, I tend towards comfort reading. It’s at night, I’ve been writing all day, so I’m probably gravitating towards things that are entertaining. If I want a break, if I have a week off or something, I’ll go for something darker and bigger and more emotive, but I love good mystery or something I can just read through. The Maid is very good.
‘Also recommended’ for Ella’s books
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great. You mentioned Rhys Bowen and Fiona Valpy and I see that some of your books have been compared to them in terms of – if they love those books, they’ll love your books too. I’d just like to mention that we’ve had both of them on the show. In fact, we’ve had Rhys on twice and Fiona has been incredibly popular. She was one of the ones that came out top 10 of the year. They are both very much people that our listeners like to hear about.
(Editor note: Rhys Bowen and Fiona Valpy have both been on The Joys of Binge Reading…)
Find Rhys Bowen here… https://thejoysofbingereading.com/rhys-bowen-2/
And Fiona Valpy here….. https://thejoysofbingereading.com/fiona-valpy-ww-ii-drama/
Looking back down the tunnel of time, if there was one thing about your creative career that you’d change, what would it be?
Ella Carey: When I started writing I thought, I’ve done an English degree, I know what I’m doing to write a book. I probably wrote two novels or just typed them. I didn’t do anything with them. Then I thought, no, I’m going to start studying the craft. Looking back maybe it was good. Maybe it was a good way to do it because I got that out of my system.
Ella Carey’s advice to aspiring writers
But looking back, I would say to aspiring writers, there is a real craft – studying it and having that apprenticeship and then finding your own voice, because what publishers are looking for is your voice. What can you bring? I think it’s a very good thing to go back and analyze what’s gone before and what might work for you and what might not, and to really study that craft.
There are so many fantastic courses you can do and books on writing. I haven’t done a Masters in Creative Writing. It was all very much reading books on writing and practicing the craft myself, but a lot of writers are doing that these days. When I was at Uni you couldn’t study creative writing, so that’s all exploded. So, I think study your craft.
Jenny Wheeler: It’s quite important to decide where you want to pitch yourself as well, isn’t it, because some of the things you might be recommended to do with a more literary book aren’t going to work with the popular fiction or even women’s fiction category.
Ella Carey: No, absolutely not. It’s interesting you say that because when I did my degree and we were studying these fantastic literary novels, I came out of it and binge read for years. I went and read more commercial fiction. You’ve got to find where you want to write. For me, the issue I have is, this is my career. I need to make money, so it is a financial thing.
Finding your right place in publishing
What was said to me early on when I was starting to work with mentors and manuscript appraisal agencies was you need to find where you are, and they said, you are bang in the middle. I do love the idea of literary novels and that whole depth, and I hope that in my novels there is some depth and people come out of it thinking something.
But I also love a cracking good story. I want to be entertained. I love great characters and that’s the passion for me. You’re exactly right. You have got to look at it as a spectrum as a writer and where do I want to sit it? It can be somewhere between commercial and literary.
Jenny Wheeler: It’s interesting that you sat right in the middle. That’s probably a very good place to be for what you wanted to do.
What is next for Ella the author in terms of the next twelve months? You’ve just finished a book. Can you tell us anything about that one?
Ella Carey: Yes. I’ve got another three books coming out. This book that I’ve finished and I’m about to edit is coming up on July 7th, 2022. I’ve got another one releasing in January 2023 and the third one will be releasing in May 2023. They are a continuation of this New York series. My publishers have said, you can keep going, so it’s books four, five, and six. They are continuing this idea. The first two in those three new books will have connections to France – between France and America.
What author Ella Carey is working on now
This one I’m working on now is World War II. I’m right in the thick of World War II, so that research has been completely different from the lovely fashion research. It’s harrowing and it’s dark. But there is so much conflict, and what’s great with historical fiction is taking your imagined characters and putting them in circumstances where conflict is what drives story. Conflict is what keeps readers turning the pages and wanting to learn what’s going to happen. This idea of problem solving.
That’s why we love reading, because we travel with the character and they solve the problem, and placing them in the context of the early 20th century, that time of massive turmoil. There are so many stories. I think the world was really changing and it was changing for women gradually.
Jenny Wheeler: As you’ve been speaking, I wonder about the chaos we’ve been experiencing. Even now, most people you talk to feel as if the future is very uncertain. We don’t quite know how things are going to be turning out another six months from now. That probably helps with the popularity of the World War fiction because they lived in a chaotic world too, didn’t they?
Ella Carey: Absolutely. When I was writing books, and particularly A New York Secret, I was writing that at the beginning of the pandemic, it was interesting because it was very much about food in New York, and it was the way we came back to that simple family and food and cooking.
How the pandemic is changing lives
Do you remember when the pandemic started? Everyone was making sourdough bread and everyone was going home and cooking. That was nurturing, and that’s what got Lily through the war, this love of cooking. And so I was seeing parallels. I think that what they went through, having this absolute fear that your fellow human beings might burst into your house and slaughter you for no reason other than your nationality or religion or culture would be absolutely horrific, and they were starving and it was just awful. But I do see parallels.
Our lives have been changed dramatically. What’s interesting is, it’s the young generation that have lost social connectivity, and that was what happened during the war. I am by far the youngest, so my parents went through World War II. Mum was 18 when it broke out and she went and joined the Air Force and was in this Nissen hut in the middle of northern South Australia for those formative years. It changed everything.
I look at my daughter, who’s had to do her entire university degree online, just sitting. What I loved about Uni was meeting people and that’s been really sad. Then after World War I you had the amazing 1920s, which was short-lived because everything crashed. The market crashed in 1929, but they did have a period of explosion of life. It’s going to be interesting to see. We have this uncertainty; we don’t know what the next variant might be. It’s 50% and we’re living with that, so it’s changed everything.
Jenny Wheeler: We have come to the end of our time together so tell me, do you enjoy interacting with your readers and where can they find you online?
Finding author Ella Carey online
Ella Carey: Absolutely. I have a gorgeous group of readers on my Ella Carey author Facebook page. I’ve got some wonderful long-term readers who have been with me since I indie published Paris Time Capsule back in 2014. They are so supportive and lovely. I have an Instagram page, again, Ella Carey author.
I’m on Twitter. I tend to interact with my fellow authors in my publishing house and we share and will promote each other’s books, so if you’re interested in reading some of my fellow authors’ books who are published in the UK with Bookouture, there is some fantastic binge reading there. It’s commercial fiction and thrillers and historical fiction and women’s fiction. https://www.bookouture.com
I have my website as well, and my blog. I really value that. It’s lovely to have that interaction. You see familiar faces and then you see new ones, the people coming in from when the translations come out in other countries. I’d see these lovely names coming from Germany or Norway or Sweden, and that’s really rewarding.
Jenny Wheeler: We will have all those links on the show notes that we publish with each episode, so people will be able to find them if they’ve got any doubts about them.
That’s wonderful Ella. Thank you so much for being with us today, and it’s been fascinating to hear your story.
Ella Carey: Thank you so much for having me, Jenny.
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Next week on The Joys of Binge Reading we have a change of pace, Elissa Sussman and her hilarious breakout romcom, Funny You Should Ask, a witty romance built around the whole dynamic of celebrity journalism. Ten years ago, Chani interviewed Hollywood star Gabe, the next James Bond, and that story has haunted her career ever since. Next week on The Joys of Binge Reading.
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