School berets, Latin chants and dancing like Mr Bean: Meet Eleanor Webster

School berets, Latin chants and dancing like Mr Bean: Meet Eleanor Webster

We were lucky enough to grab a virtual cup of tea and a chat with Eleanor Webster, author of the wonderful ‘No Conventional Miss’, (order yours now). Read on for some surprising facts you might never have guessed, and be warned, you might come away singing a certain nursery rhyme…

Share five things we’d probably never guess about you.  Fun, interesting or even embarrassing!

I dance like Elaine on Seinfeld or perhaps Mr Bean.  I am convinced I have ‘beat deafness’ (yes, it is a ‘thing’), identified by McGill University last year.

I am a hand-talker. I can’t help it. Once when working with teenagers they timed me to see how long I could talk without moving my hands. I never made it past 30 seconds.

I have watched Coronation Street literally my entire life! Warning – this may be too much information, but I swear I was breast fed to that show!

I want to crew a ship sailing from Vancouver to Maui – it’s on my bucket list. Of course, I have to learn to sail first.

I can’t wear hats. Please refer to Paddington hat blog! It started with a dreadful school beret which resembled a squashed mushroom and went downhill from there.

I can sing ‘Row, row, row your boat’ in Latin. 

How much of yourself is reflected in the book, and how?

Pieces of oneself and one’s background sneak into one’s writing at unexpected moments. Take Lady Wyburn, for example. She represents that impish inner voice which sees humour in the ridiculous and helps me to navigate the ups and downs of life.

Then there’s Rilla who declines Latin nouns while dancing with Paul in an effort to remain detached.  This was inspired by memories of chanting Latin declensions during my own bygone school days – I went to a girl’s private school which taught Latin and stuck berets on our heads, see above. I also learned ‘Row, row, row your boat’ also mentioned above.

I don’t however have any affinity with the mechanical and Rilla’s love for invention is not reflected in my own character. In fact, the office assistant at my first job banned me from even approaching the photocopier.

Can you tell us something quirky about the book / story/ characters? (for example, were the characters named after something or someone in particular)

Lady Wyburn is based on my conception of a grandmother I never met but with whom I identify. She was ditzy in a smart, delightful way. Apparently, she once set the veil of her hat on fire with a cigarette. I’d do something like that. In fact, my peers strongly advocated that I NOT take up smoking. Apparently my flapping hands proved all too dangerous (see note about hand-talking above).

Do you tend to read in the same genre you write in? Tell us about your faves regardless!

I love books – they have comforted and befriended me throughout my life. I was an only child and characters drawn from books and my imagination peopled a somewhat lonely childhood. I started my first book in grade 5, a melodrama depicting a young stowaway called Carol. As I recall, I got her onto a freighter but never quite got her off.

In my youth and throughout university I favoured dark and thought-provoking literary pieces. These days, I find my day job dark enough and am drawn to books which entertain. I love historical romance; Julia Quinn, Jo Beverley, Judith McNaught are favourites. I also adore all of Sophie Kinsella’s writing and have every Maeve Binchy book ever written.

What is your writing process? Talk us through your day!

Process? You mean there is supposed to be structure to this madness! I do a lot of things at once. I parent, work, write, run and am enrolled in a doctoral program – okay, I have taken a leave on the doctorate.

I once thought of writing a self-help book entitled ‘accomplish your goals in five minutes a day’.

My theory is that if one sets aside time every day to work towards a goal, one will eventually achieve that goal. I therefore spent much of the last two decades working towards multiple goals with short bursts of energy. This likely explains why it took me eighteen years to get published. On the flipside, I did eventually make it. It is better to progress towards a dream with tiny steps than to hold out for a perfect time or opportunity to take that giant leap.

Truth is, we often never find that time. So grab the minutes and make them count.

As far as plotlines, ideas often come when I am running. Sometimes, I imagine myself writing and feel my fingers moving as though typing which must seem a little odd to any passers-by.

What is in store for your readers next?

I am working on a second project set in the French revolution.

As a new author, I also hope to connect with readers and hope that some aspect of my work resonates with them or lightens a winter afternoon.

Are you singing row, row, row your boat yet? If you’d like to tell Eleanor (and get the latest from our author) take a look at her websitefind her on Facebook, add her to Goodreads and follow her on Twitter.

No Conventional Miss is out NOW. Order yours now.