Sunday 24 May 2020

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Harriet Steel

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 author, Harriet Steel

Good morning, Harriet. Happy Sunday!

What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

Greek yogurt and fresh fruit salad.

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

English Breakfast tea, please.

Which of your literary heroes are joining us today?

There are so many writers I would love to talk to, but if I have to restrict myself, it would be Agatha Christie, with Dorothy Sayers a close second. 

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

The Concise Oxford Dictionary – I’d be lost without it!

What’s the oldest book on your bookshelf?

A copy of The Wind in the Willows that belonged to my mother-in-law. The publisher didn’t print a publication date, but we think Sylvia would have been nine or ten when she was given it and she was born in 1927. 

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

It’s a series; I hope that’s admissible! I’ve always wanted to get through all of the Barchester Chronicles but so far, I’ve only managed The Warden and Barchester Towers.

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

The Montalbano books by Andrea Camilleri, which are even more amusing in the television series based on them. Montalbano is so cool and the formula works brilliantly – the swim in the sea and the expresso coffee while he thinks about the answer to the case, the long-suffering girlfriend, and of course, the romantic Sicilian setting.

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

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. It was a favourite bedtime story for my daughters for many years, and I practically knew it by heart at one stage! The book brings back many happy memories. 


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 prefer to be quiet when I’m writing, although I like to hear the birds singing outside my window. A piece of music that always makes me happy though is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio; I get in the festive spirit the moment I hear it!

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

Now that our daughters are grown up with homes of their own, I have a room upstairs that used to be a bedroom. It has a view over the garden which is lovely.

Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?

A computer is certainly essential for me as my writing is very untidy these days. When I’ve been in a rush to get some notes down, even I can hardly read it back! Constructive criticism is vital, as well as a good walk to clear my head when I hit a plot problem. Reading other authors is essential too. I think Stephen King was absolutely right when he said that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. 

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

My latest novel is called Taken in Nuala, and it’s the eighth instalment in my Inspector de Silva Mysteries which are set in the 1930s in Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka). The series is traditional in style without graphic violence or sex.

I was lucky enough to visit Sri Lanka several years ago and immediately fell in love with the island. The people are charming, and life has a peaceful quality to it. The island has been described as India without the dirt and the crowds, and I think it’s a fair summing up. It has wonderful scenery and wildlife, and the plant life is lush and colourful. Many readers have told me that they’ve enjoy visiting it as armchair travellers through my books. They also say that the characters who feature regularly have come to feel like old friends, and (despite the danger of being murdered) Nuala feels a comfortable place to be, especially in these difficult times.

Harriet, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @harrietsteel1

Follow #SundayBrunchwithJaffreadstoo

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