☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼
Pull up a deck chair, tie knots in your hanky and roll up your trouser legs!
☼ I'm delighted to welcome author, Celia Micklefield to our picnic
What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?
I love a good, old-fashioned British picnic. I wish it was happening for real. I enjoy all kinds of food but for a summer picnic with friends I like to go traditional. I’ll bring what we Yorkshire folk used to call a stand pie and to go with it there has to be a jar of Grandma Molly’s World Famous Green Tomato Chutney. It’s my late mother’s recipe and I make some every year. It’s fruity and spicy and just thinking about it makes my mouth water. There’ll be cheeses and grapes, crusty bread, fresh green salad and homemade slaws. There’ll be eggy sandwiches and other child-friendly pastries as well as traditional trifle for afters.
Would you like chilled white wine, a flute of Prosecco, a tumbler of Pimms, or a tall glass of sparkling elderflower cordial?
You have to drink beer with stand pie and chutney so I’d choose a real ale from a local brewery. None of your gassy, canned stuff, thank you. I prefer something out of a cask with proper body and a creamy froth on top. I’ll ask parents of children to bring their own drinks for the kids to avoid arguments about carbonates.
Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside, at the seaside?
We’ll go out into the country and sit near water. It could be by one of the Broads in Norfolk where I live now or beside one of the many rivers that link the waterways. The river Ant would be a good choice as not many visitors know about a certain quiet backwater near my home. I know the ideal spot to set up our picnic table and I’ll bring a bright red and white checked cloth so it looks like we mean business. The stand of nearby trees and shrubs will make the ideal play area for the kids who can make Hobbit dens and pretend they’re in Middle Earth.
Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?
A wicker hamper would be nowhere near big enough to hold everything we’ll need so we’ll use cool boxes - a must-have for the beer! Comfort is paramount so we’ll have those fold-up chairs with glass holders in the arm so guests don’t feel the need for a third hand.
Which of your literary heroes are joining us on the picnic today?
Charlotte Bronte will be present as guest of honour and I’ll tell her of my last visit to Haworth in January 2020 and how I’m writing a scene set there in my latest novel. I’ll introduce her to J.R.R. Tolkein who is here to judge the children’s Hobbit Hole competition and I’ll enjoy listening to both of them compare their invented languages.
Which summer read are you bringing with you today?
I won’t bring a book. There won’t be time to read. I’ll be too busy ear-wigging and brain-picking my celebrity guests. I’ll have a notebook with me, though. I won’t want to forget any choice phrases or top tips from my illustrious companions.
What is your earliest summer memory?
When everybody has eaten their fill we’ll have photographs and reminisce about picnics when we were young. I must make a point of telling my new best friend Charlotte about the time when I was a child and my mother thought it would be a good idea to hike all the way to High Withens to see where Emily had set Wuthering Heights and have our picnic there. My little legs wouldn’t carry me all the way back and I had to be piggy-backed. I can still remember how we all collapsed with exhaustion back at home.
I’d find it difficult to choose just one favourite summer hideaway. Maybe it would be one of the Greek islands where there’s no airport, like Paxos where I spent three weeks last September. I like uncrowded places and beautiful scenery. I’m happiest of all where there’s turquoise water to swim in and mountains to look at.
Do you have a summer music playlist for reading / writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel summery?
My taste in music is also quiet. Examples of pieces that give me a summery feeling are Fauré Pavane, Débussy Clair de Lune and the Flower Duet from Lakmë. This last brings memories of when I sang Malika (the mezzo part) in the choir I was part of when I lived in southern France. And, of course, there’s nothing more summery than traditional Greek music. There’s sunshine in every note. Generally, though, I don’t listen to music when I’m writing. I find it too much of a distraction.
Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?
My reading tastes are wide, much wider than they used to be. When I lived abroad we had a lot of visitors who all brought books and left them behind. So I read them. I read books I’d never have dreamed I’d enjoy. Now I choose to read whatever takes my fancy at the time.
Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter?
There's no seasonal difference. If the writing draws me in so I don’t feel as if I’m reading I’m happy to go with it. There’s no difference between summer/winter in my writing plans either. Because I have a painful neurological condition called CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) I write on good days whenever they arrive throughout the year. The CRPS slows me down though. I can’t sit at a keyboard overlong without taking regular breaks. The problem began after I was knocked down by a careless driver. I spent four months at a French clinic recovering from injuries. My bones mended but my nervous system didn’t. It still sends messages that I’m broken. Against doctor’s orders I stopped all the medication prescribed as I couldn’t cope with the side effects on top of the pain. Now I use cannabis oil which I buy online.
Would you like to tell us a little about your latest novel, or your current work in progress?
My work in progress, my seventh book, A Measured Man is half written. It’s an unsentimental, not-in-the-least romantic comedy whose main characters are over fifty. The relationship between them is not so much a slow burner, rather a slow realisation of what they both want from life. Aubrey Tennant is looking for the perfect woman to share the autumn of his life. He doesn’t know that Lisa Miller has already buried two husbands. The book’s emphasis is on comedy but with pathos. I want readers to feel some sympathy for Aubrey even though he has some very annoying habits.
I can’t show a picture of the cover as it isn’t designed yet so I’ll use my most recent book, The Sandman and Mrs Carter. It’s a psychological mystery where the main character never speaks for herself. Five other characters tell her story and there’s a mystery narrator who seems to know everything about everybody. It’ll keep you guessing right till the end.
I write in my maiden name Celia Micklefield and I’ve a Celia Micklefield Author page on Facebook. My website is www.celiamicklefield.com I’m @CMicklefield on Twitter but I have to admit I haven’t done much with Instagram. I can’t keep up with everything! All my work is on Amazon where you can use the ‘Look Inside’ feature to get a taste of each book’s theme. I enjoy writing in different genres but always with the emotional experiences of my characters at the heart of the plot.
I’m looking forward to connecting with more readers/writers. Writing can be a lonely affliction, can’t it?