Writer Ellie Dean on what she loves about Jevington
PUBLISHED: 15:14 21 August 2015 | UPDATED: 15:14 21 August 2015
Wartime family saga writer Ellie Dean started life on the other side of the world in Australia, but moved to Sussex when she was 10. She now lives in the downland village of Jevington, where she loves the community spirit, she tells Jenny Mark-Bell
Writer Ellie Dean lives in the downland village of Jevington with her tabby cat, Tilly and her husband Ollie. Ellie was born in Tasmania but came to live in England when she was 10 and moved to her current home 15 years ago.
She has three grown-up children. Her oldest son lives in Queensland, Australia, her second son is in Thailand and her daughter lives in Hove.
Ellie came late to writing: “I have always loved reading and I was always good at writing stories. When I turned 40 the children had all left home and I wanted to write the story of my family. It was slightly different because it was the relationship between three generations of women.” She had to fictionalise much of the story and then wrote another which was purely fictional. There followed some time spent honing her craft: “I wrote six novels before I got my first one published.”
She now has 30 books published under different names: her family sagas are set in the fictional town of Cliffehaven during World War II. “They are all set in this horrendous time when no one knew what was going to happen tomorrow. I wanted to focus on the little battlers: the women left behind who had to get on with things.” She also publishes sweeping Australian epics under the name Tamara McKinley and psychological thrillers as Tamara Lee.
Ellie loves living in Sussex: “It’s beautiful – I live in one of the most glorious places – so green, and my view from the office looks over my garden and then parts of the Downs. At the end of our lane, which ends in a five bar gate, I can walk over to Eastbourne, Willingdon…anywhere I want, really. This last weekend the ladies of the village got together to make chutney for the village fête. It’s a good community and we both feel very settled here.”
During the week Ellie works long hours, so at the weekend she likes to relax by “sitting in my garden or going down to the seafront in Eastbourne and along the prom.” She also likes visiting the harbour at Eastbourne: “There’s a really good Italian restaurant and you can relax with a glass of wine and watch the boats.”
The local pub, The Eight Bells in Jevington, is a favourite – “And the Rose Cottage at Alciston is lovely. We stayed at The Bell at Burwash one weekend, which has glorious views over the Weald and the food is superb.”
To celebrate a special occasion, Ellie favours Michelham Priory, where she and Ollie got married, or “The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne where I went with some girlfriends for afternoon tea which was splendid,” or The Eight Bells, with good friends from the village.
When visitors come to stay, including those from Down Under, she likes to show off the local area, perhaps taking in The Long Man at Wilmington. “Then I would drive them up to Bo Peep and to Lewes, which is such a fantastic little town. And Eastbourne seafront, obviously.”
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