Good morning Caroline and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Greetings Jo and thank you for hosting me on Tuesday Talk. I currently live in Cheshire in a small community which is perfectly placed for trains, planes and automobiles – handy to escape whenever an opportunity arises! It is a great base for me and when not out and about with my consultancy work, I enjoy being at home where I can generally be found in the kitchen. My life has always been food related from running my own businesses to working with some amazing celebrity chefs.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? How did your journey begin?
As a young girl I dreamt of writing stories but I really messed up at school and never thought I was good enough. Years later, when I valued education and made sure I got one, I knew that if I didn’t put pen to paper I would go to my grave wondering – and so it began. I wrote a story that had been in my head for a long time, based around a gypsy horse fair and Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me was born. I couldn’t find a publisher so very hesitatingly self-published the book. To my shock and joy, it shot to #3 in Women’s Fiction on Amazon and was E-Book of the Week in The Sun. Since then I have been both indie and traditionally published.
Your books – a blend of romance and humour – have been strongly influenced by your catering background. Is there one real life humorous event you can recall?
There are many events. The hospitality world is a rich pot to pick from and full of eccentrics. I represented several celebrity chefs for many years and found myself in some whacky situations, such as standing in for a chef too intoxicated to do their demo in front of a large audience. Another was turning up for a meeting with the MD of a chain of luxury hotels who whisked me by helicopter to view them and four days later, at 2 am in the morning, sat by my feet sucking his thumb to hold the meeting.
Who is your favourite celebrity chef?
I’ve worked with and met some fantastic chefs but my favourite of all was the late great Keith Floyd. I think he was the master – not only for being a brilliant cook who had the ability to entertain in whatever circumstances he was thrown into but also for being an amazing raconteur and thoroughly nice fellow. Floyd fell in love with Kinsale in Southern Ireland after being invited to an annual food festival and ended up buying a cottage and spending a large part of the 1990s there. I traced his steps to the festival (Following Floyd’s Footsteps) to find out why he loved Kinsale so much and I had the most incredible four days ever. The people of Kinsale, who are huge foodies, took Floyd to their hearts and embraced him and I soon understood why he fell in love with the place. The festival and Floyd were the inspiration for my novel, So, You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef?
You did extensive research for Coffee, Tea the Caribbean and Me by spending time in the West Indies. Can you tell us something about that?
I spent time in the Caribbean many years ago and now, through family connections, have cause to visit quite often. I guess it’s the old adage – write what you know and I certainly know Barbados. Barbados is a beautiful island but it’s not all about sun, sea and sand. There is a side to Barbados that the tourists never see and the Rock (as it is known) has a wealth of history, fascinating people and eclectic foods. I tried to include a little bit of the island that is off the beaten track and I hope that the book inspires people to go there.
What destination is top of your bucket list and why?
I’ve visited many countries and have climbed a few mountains in my time. I love beaches and dramatic seas but at the moment, top of my bucket list seems to be a train journey, somewhere interesting and lengthy – perhaps the California Zephyr which is considered to be one of the most scenic train rides in America, traveling from Denver to San Francisco, across the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.
You’re taking a sabbatical on a desert island. What four ‘must haves’ would you take with you?
A very sharp knife
The late, great Keith Floyd
Several cases of champagne
Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me:
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