Worthing author Elaine Hankin takes a trip through time in her latest book.
Her eighth novel, Footprints on my Doorstep, looks at the changing world which passes through a house over the course of a century.
From 1901 until the new millennium, house number seven reveals the secrets of the families who reside within its Victorian walls.
“It is set in Worthing, but I haven’t called it Worthing. I haven’t given the town a name, just a small town near Brighton.
“The story is told from the viewpoint of this Victorian terraced house.
“The house introduces each family that has come to live there, and then we get their story.
“I live in a Victorian terraced house, and I have always wondered what people lived there before. Your imagination wanders off and you start thinking what a lot of history must have gone on here.
“And I just started thinking that it would make a good novel. I was starting to base it on my own house, but then I realised that that might not be a terribly good idea
“I start off with a family coming to live in the house when it was built. I made it built by the railway for the railway employees which, for a start, obviously wasn’t true.
“But I have this family coming down to London from Worthing because the husband has got a job on the railway, which in those days was a job for life.
“The book goes through their story and then another family comes to live in the house, and that goes through the 1920s, the period between the wars. It goes through seven families up till after the millennium.
“The families are not related.
“They are all separate, but there is a link through each story otherwise they would have just been short stories. I have linked them together through a thread which runs through.”
The idea is to show changing times, changing fashions, changing manners, changing decorations.
“You have got to be careful with the dialogue, for instance.
“And I have also tried to show changing decorations as the house gets gradually modernised. I have also tried to bring in changing attitudes and changing technologies as we get into the digital age.”
The book is Elaine’s eighth novel over something like 18 years, and she doesn’t really doubt there will be a ninth.
The urge to continue writing always proves irresistible. Always another book comes along.
The chances are that the next will be a spin-off novel from this latest book. She knows that she will always carry on writing.
“I just can’t help myself. Every time I finish a book, I just think ‘never again!’ I think ‘I am not going to do this anymore.’
“But then I always seem to start writing again!”