Worthing mum and teacher Emily Williams is in print with her debut novel, a work which draws on local legends and has echoes of Abélard and Héloïse.
Self-published and available from Amazon, Letters to Eloise has been released on kindle and in paperback.
“The local links in the story are to Cissbury ring where the characters visit on an expedition, with local legends and the ways to summon Old Nick – the devil! – being interwoven into the story line. The protagonist of the story Flora falls in love with her fellow university student River whilst on a university society walk to Cissbury.
“I would call it a romance... a romance with heartbreak,” Emily says. “A man is up in his loft and finds a box of letters all stacked neatly, and he remembers why he had put them up there 18 years before. That’s the prologue, and then it goes back 18 years to the letters that this lady is writing to her unborn child. The main message from Letters to Eloise is about missed opportunities and to not let words go left unsaid or said too late.”
When post-graduate student Flora falls unexpectedly pregnant during her final-year studies, she hits a huge predicament; continue a recent affair with her handsome but mysterious lecturer who dazzles her with love letters taken from the ancient tale of Abélard and Héloïse or chase after the past with her estranged first love. But will either man be there to support her?
“I think I was writing it at a time of my life when I wanted to have children, and that’s why I decided to write a story about a woman who is pregnant.”
To write it as an epistolary novel reflected Emily’s own love of letters: “I have always loved letter-writing. I don’t know why. I think it is because a letter is more personal to receive than an email. It’s that personal touch. These are all hand-written letters. And the tragic love story of Abélard and Héloïse is also woven throughout the novel in quotes taken from their ancient love letters to one another. This is a more modern twist on lost love. In the novel, Flora talks about how she got in that situation and so on and of her hopes for the future.”
Emily, who works at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School as a teacher and year leader, added: “The novel took over four years to write mainly due to having two children just after finishing the first draft. After falling pregnant with my son, I found it hard to continue editing as Flora, the protagonist, was also pregnant and going through many issues. Having struggled to conceive myself it was all a little too close to home. I had to put it aside for a couple of years. Two children later and I got back onto the editing and here we are today!”
Inevitably, it was interesting to look back on her creation of a pregnant woman from the point of view of having now been pregnant herself: “A couple of friends of mine were pregnant at the time, and I was asking them for advice, but since I have read it again, there have been a few things I have changed after having had my own children, things like the physical appearance. I assumed that the baby bump appeared immediately! And there were things like about the morning sickness that I got wrong! My next novel, a psychological thriller, hopefully won’t take me as long to finish! I am still at the idea stage. But it will be a different kind of book. I don’t want to get stuck in the one genre. I hope to get the first draft done by the summer, and I would like to get the book done maybe by Christmas.”
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