Mistletoe & Mystery – Daisy James
- Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it?
I loved writing Mistletoe & Mystery, which is the third book in the Paradise Cookery School series. The story combines two things that really fire my imagination – and my taste buds! First of all, the story takes place in a fabulous country manor in the Cotswolds where the cookery school is based and is filled with a kaleidoscope of delicious recipes. Baking is one of my favourite things to do – I find it so relaxing and there’s usually something fabulous to eat at the end of it! Secondly, the story is set at Christmas and that gave me the chance to write about all the wonderful things we do to celebrate – not to mention all the foodie treats we associate with that time of year.
- How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
I always do a lot of research before I start writing a new novel. I really enjoy this part, and to be honest, I think I probably spend too much time on it. The first two books in the Paradise Cookery School series are set on the beautiful island of St Lucia, so I had an amazing few months taking virtual tours of the fabulous beaches, the lush rainforests, and the picturesque towns and markets all over the island. I listened to Caribbean music, learnt about the food and spices that are grown there, and tried out lots of amazing recipes. Cocoa beans are grown in St Lucia, so there had to be plenty of chocolate-filled desserts too.
Yes, I have a notebook where I jot down details that interest me, and I also have a collage of photographs and interesting articles that might come in useful for inspiration. I also always change my screensaver to a picture of the location I’m writing about.
- What resources do you use? In general, and for the last book that you wrote?
So far I’ve always set my books in places that I’ve visited, but then I make sure that I back my personal experience up with detailed research, either by borrowing books on the topic from the library or spending time on the internet. The book I’m writing at the moment is set in Tuscany, so I’ve been spending lots of time reading up on that area, especially the local cuisine – and of course sampling it!
- How helpful do you find authority figures, such as the police, when you say you want to write about them?
I write romantic comedy, so thankfully the police don’t make a regular appearance! But I agree with you, if I’m going to write about a particular profession it makes sense to approach someone who has in depth knowledge of the industry, such as the daily routine, the procedures they have to follow, what qualifications they need, or any quirks that readers would find interesting. The main character in my next book is an interior designer. I love interior design, and I actually have a qualification in it, but I also have friends who can help if I’ve got any questions. I hope it will add a level of authenticity.
- What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?
I really enjoy doing blog tours. I’m always interested to hear what readers think of my books, but, of course, there’s always that little kernel of anxiety about how the story will resonate with people. In my experience, the book blogging community is a very friendly and generous community and I’ve had some fabulous comments and reviews over the years for which I’m very grateful. I can’t think of anything funny that has happened, or even that has gone wrong, but that’s probably because everyone has been so professional!
- What is your favourite genre?
My favourite genre to read is travel autobiographies. I love those stories of people who have undertaken amazing journeys around the world and come home to write about them. I’ve recently read books about two girls who drove a Tuk-Tuk from Thailand to London, a woman who cycled around the world, a guy who hitchhiked to Australia and back, and a folk band who drove a red double-decker bus around the world. I really enjoy Simon Reeve’s books, Levison Wood’s books, Patrick Leigh Fermor & Nick Hunt. One of my favourites is Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart – what a fabulous title – so evocative of the part of Spain where he lives.
- What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?
I’ve always loved writing and started to scribble stories when I was about eight years old. I even illustrated them myself and glued them together like a real book. I really wish I still had them now. I do have my very first full-length novel – handwritten in five exercise books – which is still in a shoe box on top of my wardrobe. I doubt it will ever see the light of day, but I won’t throw it out. It took me three years to write and I learned loads – mainly what not to write!
Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.