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
🍴Michael, what favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?
As I’m a vegetarian, and it’s brunch, I think a light mushroom and black pepper omelette with sautéed potatoes and beans would set me up for the day.
🍴Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?
Americano with a little cold milk on the side, please.
🍴Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio?
I’m an outdoor eater, so on the patio if it’s not raining.
🍴Shall we have music playing in the background? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you happy?
‘Swing 42’ by Django Reinhardt and The Quintet of the Hot Club of France. 2 minutes and 48 seconds of pure pleasure.
🍴Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today?
What an opportunity to bring together Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O’Brian! Both have proved themselves masters of the epic historical fiction series, where characters and their relationships mature like fine wine. It’s a rare skill and, once they got talking, I could just sit in the corner, sipping my Americano and making copious notes! O’Brian died in 2000, so I don’t know if they ever met. Be wonderful to see them together.
🍴Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?
That would have to be Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Extraordinary writing.
🍴When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!
If I am struggling with my writing I might read something completely different like a Lee Child thriller just to reframe my thinking, but never historical fiction. I save that for when my mind is clear. As for unread books, where do I start?
🍴What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?
A Book of Common Prayer from 1781.
🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?
From the history of the period I’m writing about and the people who inhabited it. I spent eight months researching ‘Rags of Time’ and by the end I had collected hundreds of fragments of experiences, feelings, decisions, regrets and discoveries from people living in 1650 London. These were the raw materials for the new narrative I then created, which is one of the reasons I gave the book its title. I had a strong feeling of making something, my own patchwork, from these rags of time.
🍴Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer?
I prefer to work from the same place each day, usually one of our bedrooms converted into an office. We’ve just moved house in the middle of writing the sequel to ‘Rags’, which isn’t great!
🍴When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing?
I’m pretty disciplined as a writer, although it took me an age to complete my first book because of several lengthy interruptions. Now I am no longer working full time, I write every weekday morning, first thing, and even if it’s not flowing I get something down. That gives me words and ideas to work with, to see what hits the spot and what doesn’t.
🍴Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?
1) Self belief that the ideas will keep coming
2) A hunger to learn
3) Peace and quiet
4) A comfortable chair. I’ll spend months in it!
🍴What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress?
My work in progress is the (as yet unnamed) sequel to ‘Rags of Time’. It’s the second in a series that will follow the adventures of spice merchant Thomas Tallant and the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour – lover of mathematics and prime tobacco in equal measure – through the chaos that engulfs England in the mid 17th century: an unprecedented period of civil war, regicide, republic and restoration. It’s also a time of rapid change in science, medicine and commerce, and all will have an impact on their stories as they unfold.
Michael, where can we follow you on social media?
Writing has been central to Mike Ward’s professional life. On graduating from university he became a journalist, working in newspapers and for the BBC. He then went into journalism education, teaching and researching journalism practice before becoming head of the UK’s prestigious Journalism School at UCLan. For the last eight years he has run his own content creation company.
23 June 2020
Thomas Tallant #1
‘Rags of Time’ is Michael’s debut novel. Its sequel is due to be published late in 2020.
Rags of Time' is set in London in 1639. It tells the story of spice merchant Thomas Tallant, accused of murder and fighting to clear his name, and the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is only matched by her addiction to tobacco and the gaming tables.
Can Elizabeth's brilliance untangle the web of deceit that threatens to drag Tom under, as England slides into civil war?
‘Rags’ is a murder mystery but not just a procedural thriller. Tom's hunt for the real killer takes him on a journey through the ferment of new thinking that's sweeping London in the 1640s. Change is everywhere - science, street politics, commerce and religion - and this shapes the plot, action, characters and outcome.
🍴 Thanks so much, Michael, for joining us for Sunday Brunch today 🍴
It's been great fun!
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