Breakfast In Bed is the first Eleanor Moran book I have read, my first exposure to the author. I really enjoyed the book and it got me thinking about the woman behind the story. Now that I am interviewing authors I tend to think more about where these books I love actually come from. I took the opportunity to interview Eleanor and see if we couldn’t find out a little more about her.
What inspired you to write Breakfast In Bed, a novel largely centred around a kitchen, and what can you tell us about it?
My inspiration for the book started with Amber’s personal situation, rather than the restaurant (although that was pretty appealing, as I’m very greedy!) I always like to start with a romantic dilemma, normally in some way personal, and then work outwards from there. With Breakfast In Bed I was fascinated by the fact that, by the time I hit my mid thirties, four out of six of my best girlfriends were divorced.
I wanted to write about what it feels like to feel like you’ve got all the boxes ticked, and then find that you’ve tumbled right to the bottom of the snakes and ladders board just as your remaining single friends are all getting hitched. I then wanted to add a workplace setting that would give lots of jeopardy and push Amber to the limit, and I couldn’t think of anywhere better. I also think there’s something terribly macho and sexy about chefs, for all their flaws, and Amber certainly agrees as she finds herself increasingly drawn to her charismatic and impossible boss Oscar. But much as she tries to shut out her recent divorce, the reappearance of ex husband Dom turns up the heat on her personal situation.
I imagine there would have been quite a bit of research involved in getting the details right, how did you go about that?
The restaurant research was a lot of fun. I spoke to a female chef early on and couldn’t believe the stories she told me – the terrible pay, the back breaking work, the chauvinistic Head Chefs calling you every name under the sun and throwing skillets at your head in a coked up rage. Then my publishers fixed up for me to hang out at the River Cafe. It’s brilliantly run, by two women (then, sadly Rose Grey subsequently died) but the largely female team told me lots more horror stories about their less pleasant jobs. I loved being in the hustle and bustle, and exploring all the nooks and crannies like the big cold store for carcasses. I had a sex scene set in there but my editor cut it!
What is your most vivid childhood memory related to books?
My favourite books growing up were definitely Enid Blyton, even though my leftie mum absolutely hated me reading them. I loved the safety of the worlds she created, the sense that good always prevailed. I’m afraid it gave me with a life-long attraction to well spoken English boys who reminded me of Julian, the elder brother in the Famous Five. I was an executive producer at BBC drama for many years, and one of my proudest achievements was conceiving an Enid Blyton biopic, with Helena Bonham Carter as the star. I did feel a bit guilty about ruining lots of people’s illusions about the woman herself, who was a far more difficult character than those gloriously upbeat stories suggested.
I was reading an old newspaper article about you and your unconventional upbringing, what will you share with us about that?
You asked me about growing up with left wing parents. I suppose my love of Enid was partly down to a desire to counteract all the terrible things I was always hearing about the evils of the tory government or the harpooning of whales. I really wanted to escape into a world where good prevailed and the baddies always got their comeuppance. I felt very out of place with the other kids in my tough London schools, with my jumble sale clothes and no TV. I had no idea who Wham were, or whether or not ra ra skirts were fashionable. That probably goes some way to explaining my chronic Net a Porter habit in adulthood!
How do you think that has prepared you for your adult life?
I’m not sure I can say for sure how that aspect of my upbringing has affected my adulthood. I had quite a bit of therapy in my twenties, and what I do know is that it is vital for me that there is an emotional truth to the stories I write, that they are more than just boy meets girl. I need my heroines to learn something, and I want to know what in their early lives has led them to the dilemma that faces them on page 1.
How has your life’s path lead you to writing?
I came to writing via a lifelong love of books, and working in TV drama for many years, on shows ranging from Spooks to New Tricks or Being Human. I have always loved stories, but didn’t have the confidence to write myself until I was in my early 30s and in a total dilemma about whether to marry my long term boyfriend. It was right on paper, but something in my heart told me we wouldn’t go the distance and my first novel, Stick or Twist, was borne of that agonising choice. My second book, Mr Almost Right, is set on a TV set and I used lots of the hilarious and terrible behaviour I’d observed over the years to give it a ring of truth.
I believe you have just headed to LA for 3 months – can you tell us a bit about that, what do you think you’ll miss most about home, what do you want to see while you’re there and what’s next for Eleanor Moran?
I have upped sticks and moved to LA for 3 months to finish book 4 and work on a script. I wanted to get right away, as I’m behind, and there are too many distractions in London. It’s also way warmer here. I’m currently in Palm Springs which is toasty, and full of great people watching. Fave moment today was over-hearing the bell boy complaining about what a bad tipper Rihanna is.
So far I am missing Junior Apprentice, my mum and coffee that’s not either like muddy water or so strong that it keeps you awake for days on end. I know LA pretty well, but I’m hoping to make it to Hawaii and Mexico whilst they’re near-ish by.
I went to an incredible Halloween Hayride this week at Griffith Park where you’re driven through various horrific scenes, and out of work actors with chain saws and fake blood jump out at you. Properly scary and utterly unlike a pathetic UK attempt at Halloween. I’ll have to go home in January though as I’m starting a new TV job. Much to write before then!
Thank you for chatting with us Eleanor and all the best for a productive 3 months in LA.
I devour books, vampires and supernatural creatures are my genre of choice but over the past couple of years, I have broadened my horizons considerably. In a nutshell – I love to write! I love interacting with a diverse range of artists to bring you interviews. Perhaps we were perfect before – I LOVE WORDS!