Romantic comedy for grown-ups? An interview with bestselling author Jan Ellis

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Jan hard at work, doing research for novella number 3!

Bestselling romantic comedy author Jan Ellis,  writes fun and fabulous eBooks for grown-ups, such as An Unexpected Affair and French Kisses. While I’m quite sure I’ve never met a real ‘grown-up’ before … I’ve enjoyed getting to know Jan and her lovely writing as well as her great sense of humour, and I hope you will too.

Meet the lovely Jan.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Somerset, which has to be one of the most beautiful and friendliest counties in the UK. I do have to head back to the Smoke every now and then, though, to get a bracing dose of petrol fumes.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Well, funnily enough . . . I was always good at English at school so the careers officer suggested that I become a journalist. I trained in journalism then found myself in the world of publishing, which suited me better.

Where do you write – have you got a dedicated spot? Or like me do you have writing room but spend most of your time writing in proximity to the fridge?

I do have a dedicated ‘home office’, otherwise known as the upstairs landing. I frequently have to jog downstairs to get tea and biscuits, which I count as exercise.

What is your writing process – do you write every day, are you a plotter or a pantser?

The first paragraph tends to come quite quickly, and that’s what I send off to my publisher with another chunk from inside the book as samples. My novellas are interlinked so I have a vague idea what’s going to happen, but things do change. I love the way the characters develop and I have great fun with the dialogue. My locations are all based on real places and I try to make the relationships as realistic as possible. For example, in French Kisses there is a coincidence linking Rachel to one of her admirers that might seem unlikely, but is exactly the kind of thing that happens in real life.

In your other life you’re also an editor – that is amazing, I truly take my cap off to such marvels of the human species – did this help with your writing, or did it sometimes make it harder because you want it to be perfect?

Ask any editor and they will tell you that it is impossible to proofread your own stuff! I am pedantic about grammar, mind you, so you won’t find too many dangling modifiers and split infinitives. I’ll also let you in on a secret: in non-fiction publishing, the editor writes an awful lot of what ends up in the book.

Love that your novels have settings in France – are you a Francophile?

3 Marseille

I’m a Europhile really. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in France and Belgium; I also lived a year in Italy and nearly two in Latin America. I enjoy travel and have been lucky to have friends in far-flung places like Sydney.

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Also you have quite an accomplished academic background, is it fun to do something less sérieux?

Mais oui! Having said that, I love the research aspect of academic work and it is satisfying when you deliver a good conference paper.

Would you love to be a full-time author or would you miss your other life?

I have never just done one thing at a time. I have a magpie brain that hates having to focus on one task for too long. If I was a full-time author, I think I would combine romcom with the big historical novel that friends tell me I should write. And having slogged away for years to get a PhD, I wouldn’t want to give up my academic life.

I love that you write novellas – something I’m definitely going to explore in the future, is it harder to write a short novel and how long did it take you to write both your stories?

I take my hat off to people who can write full-length novels. It’s not something that I have planned at the moment, though I’d give it a go if someone offered me a nice fat advance! I guess I’m unusual in that I don’t overwrite – it’s the editor in me knocking out all the unnecessary words before they even hit the paper. As for timing, I wrote each of the two novellas in about three months.

What’s next – are you working on any new novels?

I certainly am! The working title of novella number three is A Spanish Affair and it continues on from my first title, An Unexpected Affair. Lots of people who read that one wanted to know what happened next, so I’m taking up the story two years later. What has Eleanor been up to and where is Christophe? There’s a clue in the title, but it’s not as straightforward as you might think! I’m hoping to get it finished in time for Santa to shove down a few virtual chimneys.

10 sec Jan Ebooks or print books? Print!

Croissants or cooked English breakfast? Croissant in France and defo an FEB in England.

Chocolate or wine (or trick question:) Wine . . .

Sea or mountains? Sea, every time.

Dogs or cats? Woof!

Both of Jan Ellis’s bestselling novellas are published as e-books by Endeavour Press and are available from Amazon:

An Unexpected Affair


French Kisses

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To read extracts and to find out more about Jan and the locations for the books, check out her website. You can also follow her on Twitter.


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