Sunday 1 March 2020

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Tracy Baines

On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast, and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

I'm delighted to welcome writer, Tracy Baines

What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

It has to be a full English, doesn’t it? A couple of slices of bacon, local sausages, black pudding, mushrooms sautéed in butter, half a tomato, and a poached egg. That will set me up for the entire day.

Would you like a pot of English Breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

English breakfast tea please, very strong with a little milk, no sugar.

Which of your literary heroes are joining us today?

L M Montgomery, Barbara Taylor-Bradford, Rosamund Pilcher, Charles Dickens, Alexander Dumas. I’d ask them what inspired them and how they sustained themselves writing such huge sweeping stories. I might discover a few secrets that might help me in my own work. The conversation would be lively, and I’m quite certain the women would hold their own with two such larger than life men at the table.

What’s the title of the book nearest to you?

The Theatre at War by Basil Dean - written by the founder and director of the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). It’s about the entire set up of ENSA from Dean’s point of view (he had many detractors - so that will be the next book I’m on the lookout for) and how they mobilised entertainers in World War 2. Dean was one of the most famous theatrical producers and managers in Britain at the time and saw in the Great War how important morale was to the national psyche. It’s crammed packed with fascinating detail. 

What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?

The Young Brontes by Phyllis Bentley. It’s a second-hand copy but one I borrowed constantly from the library when I was a child. I found the entire world of the Bronte’s mesmerising, and still do. I finally got to Haworth a couple of years ago and it was such a privilege to see the tiny little books that I had previously only seen in photographs, to walk the rooms, sit on the garden wall, wander through the graveyard, walk the path to the moors. Well worth a visit.

Which book do you really want to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

Gone with the Wind. I finally have a copy – a Christmas gift. I saw the film when I was a teenager at the local cinema. My sister and I came out pretending very hard that we hadn’t been crying. We were far too sophisticated for that. I never had time to read it when my children were small – it always looks like the kind of book you have to really throw yourself into with to the exclusion of all else. I’m about to dive in.

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Warner Books

Do you have a guilty reading pleasure, and if so will you tell us about it?

I don’t do guilt, not as far as reading is concerned anyway. I’ll read anything and never feel the need to apologise for it. However, I used to feel guilty if I was reading and I should have been doing something else – like cleaning. Now that I’m older I can’t see the dust if I don’t put my glasses on so that guilt went by the board long ago.

If the house was on fire which book would you rescue?

A signed copy of Writing Awake the Dreamweaver by Margaret Graham. That book changed my life. I got in touch with Margaret and attended a workshop she was teaching. From that day I never looked back. Her feedback was transformational. I began selling my short stories on a regular basis and she has been such a generous and kind mentor. I owe her so much. 

Do you have a reading/writing playlist on Spotify, or a favourite CD to listen to when reading/writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?

I have many Spotify lists – one for warm up free- writing before I start work if I’m feeling a little sluggish. When I was writing The Variety Girls I constantly played Mantovani movie themes. As soon as I heard the sweeping scores I was plunged deep into the world of my characters. 

My favourite is the theme from Limelight, so wistful and inspiring. It really evokes the feeling of wanting to aspire to great things and I’m sure Jessie Delaney, my protagonist, would think so too. 

The song that makes me feel happy is Trudy by Russ Conway. My husband plays it for me on the piano. It’s such a joyful tune you can’t help but smile when you hear it.

Do you have a favourite place to settle down to read/write?

I almost always write in my office. It makes me stop dithering and knuckle down to work. Having a separate place to work suits my temperament. I used to have a small desk in the spare bedroom when my kids were young, but now I have a room of my own where I can leave papers and books in piles on the floor without having to tidy them away. Sheer luxury.

But to read I love to curl up on the sofa with plenty of cushions and a constant supply of tea.

Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?

Stamina (physical and mental), discipline, tenacity and imagination. All can be strengthened with time and effort.

What can you tell us about your latest novel, or your current work in progress?

I’m editing book 2 of The Variety Girls. This time Jessie and Frances are coping with the aftermath of the declaration of war when all theatres and places of entertainment were closed. Little by little theatres and cinemas reopen and the girls pull together to keep Britain smiling and laughing. As 1939 draws to a close the girls get ready for pantomime – Aladdin, a tale of magic and wonder and the all important magic lamp to light the darkness of the days ahead. 

Ebury Press
February 2020

Facebook: @tracybainesauthor 

Twitter: @tracyfbaines

Instagram: @tracyfbaines


  1. Thank you for such an enjoyable Sunday lunch, Jaffa, Timmy and Jo. Clean plates!


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