Sunday 15 November 2020

🍴Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Nicola Rayner


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, Nicola Rayner to our Sunday Brunch today🍴

Nicola with Chota
Photo Credit : Joseph Paxton

🍴Nicola, welcome to Jaffareadstoo. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch? 

I’ll bring smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – my favourite celebratory breakfast. 

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

Am I allowed coffee and fizz? 

🍴Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio? 

Outside, please! I hope Jaffa is joining us? 

🍴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? 

Most of the music I like is quite melancholic – my favourite band is The National and one of their most famous songs is called “Sorrow”, which says a lot: they played it continuously for six hours on an album called A Lot of Sorrow, but I’m not sure that that’s quite right for brunch! Anything by Harry Belafonte would make me feel happy. I have a huge soft spot for “Jamaica Farewell” – which I always sing with my family and is all about home – so let’s play that. 

🍴Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today? 

Dorothy Parker would always be my first choice. I’ve loved her since my formative years and keep her picture on my writing desk – I’m in awe of her wit. I reckon our brunch would be a great opportunity to meet a few of my heroes: Edna St Vincent Millay, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, Molly Keane, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Of today’s writers, I suspect Margaret Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo and Elizabeth Gilbert would all be excellent company, and I’d love to invite my author friends Sara Collins, Emma Curtis, SE Lynes and Kate Weinberg – because they always make me laugh (and I think they’d appreciate the chance to meet our prestigious guests). 

🍴Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch? 

Like many writers, I find it impossible to pick a favourite book, but I envy people who haven’t read Fingersmith by Sarah Waters yet, as they have that enormous treat ahead of them. 


🍴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! 

Yes, absolutely, reading is one of the biggest pleasures in my life – I can’t imagine a world without it. I’m seriously excited about starting The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – I have the beautiful hardback waiting on my TBR pile and I’ve heard amazing things about it.

🍴What’s the oldest book on your book shelf? 

That would be Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. My copy dates to 1993, I think; I first read it when I was thirteen and I’ve revisited it many times since. I discovered du Maurier as a teenager and she’s a huge influence. My first novel, The Girl Before You, owes a lot to Rebecca: it’s about a woman who is haunted by her husband’s ex. Similarly, You and Me looks at female jealousy and insecurity, isolation, grief and obsession – all things du Maurier delves into so well in Rebecca. 

Virago Modern Classic

🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels? 

All sorts of places – news stories, anecdotes from friends, eavesdropping on trains. It just needs to be something that makes me think, “Hmm, that’s interesting…” And that’s how it usually begins. 

🍴Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer? 

I probably get more done in the winter, as my garden and the great outdoors in general can be a distraction in the summer. I have a dog who’s always up for a walk and I’m a wild swimmer too, so I get my fix at Hampstead ladies’ pond whenever I can... I need natural light to write but that’s my only requirement, really. I often write in bed, or at my desk, of course, but I can write in cafés, on trains, in airports. The noise doesn’t really bother me as I’m from a large family – I’m used to it. That said, there is something to be said for having a room of one’s own – a place where you can close the door to the outside world and its distractions and think deeply. 

🍴When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing? 

I’m a journalist, so I love a deadline – fear can be a great motivator! My phone is probably the biggest distraction, but if it gets too much, I just switch it off or, if the worst comes to the worst, I give it to my husband and he hides it from me! 

🍴Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs? 

A room of one’s own, a pen, a pretty notebook (somehow the prettiness helps!) and a four-legged friend for cuddles or a walk when you need a break. 

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

It’s very early days, so I can’t say too much, but I’m working on something inspired by du Maurier again that explores female jealousy, uneven power dynamics and the question of how well you can ever really know a person, which are all things I seem to return to time and again. 

Nicola's latest novel You and Me
was published by Avon on 1 October 2020

Avon Books
October 2020

Watching sunrises together should have been romantic. But you were always inside with your wife, and I sat in your garden, in the shadows. I thought you’d never know how I felt about you.

Until one night, I witnessed a terrible crime. I wanted it to bring us closer together.

But now the secrets are tumbling out. And they could tear everything apart…

🍴Nicola, where can we follow you on social media? 🍴

Twitter @nico1arayner 

🍴More about Nicola🍴

Nicola Rayner was born in Abergavenny, south Wales, and works as a freelance journalist. The Girl Before You, her first psychological thriller, was picked by the Observer as a debut to look out for in 2019. It has been translated into multiple languages and has also been optioned for television. She lives in London with her husband and Jack Russell. 

Nicola, thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo. 

Thank YOU so much!!!

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