☼ 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, Ellan Aldryc to our picnic ☼
What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?
I’m notoriously picky, so I’m super used to bringing my food to picnics. Olives are a must, I’m also bringing fresh mozzarella, prosciutto sourced from a proper Italian deli, an assortment of cheeses and fresh forest fruit - I’m going all in. You think this is gonna be classy. But then the Balkan foods come out! Onion, ajvar, odd-looking meat rolls and flat bread, sarma, sausages. How did all of this fit into my bag? It wasn’t easy, I’ll tell you that much.
Would you like chilled white wine, a flute of Prosecco, a tumbler of Pimms, or a tall glass of sparkling elderflower cordial?
Me and prosecco have a tumultuous relationship, but nothing as embarrassing as that one time I asked for a Pimms during winter time, and literally the whole pub turned around and laughed at me. Such are the perils of being an immigrant. I’ll go for prosecco.
Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside, at the seaside?
We’ve driven quite far to get out of London. We’re in Hertfordshire, Jane Austen county, where you can just laugh about refusing the hand of a frustrated lord over a glass of prosecco. We need to eat all of this before we go back, by the way.
Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag ?
We got the whole shebang, hamper, posh cloth, silverware. I’m not saying we’re waiting for an impressionist painter to come and start capturing all this glamour, but it wouldn’t hurt.
Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?
I live in London, and in my town, picnics are a competitive sport. Everything from the music to the outfits needs to convey the message that your group, and no one else, is having the time of their lives. I strongly believe that the best place to do that is Hampstead Heath, one of the few hills in London, because you can forget that you live in a metropolis. It’s massive, gorgeous and easily accessible. And of course, one of the top spots if you want to start competitive picnic-ing.
Which of your literary heroes are joining us on the picnic today?
I’ll bring Frank Herbert for a cosy discussion about terraforming and how I definitely stole nothing from his books.
Which summer read are you bringing with you today?
I’m bringing Space Opera - no not the genre, the novel. I’ve read it, I feel like I need to do it again…but that’s what happens when you pick up a book where humanity needs to fight for survival at the intergalactic Eurosong. And that’s the least crazy thing I get to say about this book.
What is your earliest summer memory?
There are lots of villages in Croatia that fill up with Slovenian tourists every year (basic, I know), and my parents took me to one of them for many years. I think my earliest memory was watching the sea there. Possibly falling in. Fun times.
Do you have a favourite summer hideaway?
I try to visit new places every summer, but I‘m currently determined to get back to Cuba as soon as possible. My father lives there and it’s basically summer all the time, even though long-term residents wear jackets at the slightest sign of non-scorching heat. And here we are, in England, running around in bikinis with every coincidental ray of sun.
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?
This is quite a brutal question for a bedroom DJ like me - I take summer music very seriously, to the point where I study the major labels’ releases when they first come out in January to prepare for the open-air parties and festivals. Every year has a very specific flavour, especially in electronic music, which is my area of expertise. I will say this - one of Youtube’s Japanese City Pop playlist is the best thing to put on if you need something gorgeous for the background. And of course, any kind of afro funk, especially from Burkina Faso’s golden age if you need something uplifting.
Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?
My reading habits are based on what I’m hungry for. I sometimes wake up and just rush over to find a genre I never touched before because I fancy it, like a flavour. I read what I want, whenever I want, it’s one of my key liberties, but I tend to read more in the summer.
Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter?
England literally has three hours of proper daylight every day during the winter. This is when I write to survive. In the summer, when I get to run free, party hard, and recharge my batteries, I write for pleasure. I stopped waiting for inspiration. The books must be written. My schedule is rigorous.
Would you like to tell us a little about your latest novel, or your current work in progress?
Excellent question! Four lovely books are coming out this year, starting with My Friend, the Gifted. Think futuristic sci-fi, but not dystopian. Mysteries, conspiracies, plenty of secrets to go around in an Institute tasked with a simple goal. Inject the magical into science. Make the world a better place. Or, plunge it into absolute darkness if the group of our protagonists messes up, which seems increasingly likely. My Friend, the Gifted focuses on Elodie Marchand, who struggles to find her place among the geniuses and overachievers, until the gifted, a controversial group of supernaturally abled people invite her into their midst. But not all is as it seems.
The series is rolling out with a book every couple of months and I sure hope you guys are ready for something fresher than peppermint!
Ellan, where can we follow you on social media?
• Instagram handle: @thealdryc
More about Ellan
Ellan had a massive existential crisis when she was twelve, and to be honest, she’s still waiting for it to be over. Born in Slovenia, she loves making people point it out on the map and buy her a drink when they fail to. When she’s not writing Sci-Fantasy and despairing about English idioms, you can usually find her in the background of a DJ set or doing tai chi outdoors, pretending she’s in one of those martial arts movies.
☼ Thank you for coming to our picnic ☼
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