On this quiet December Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for a Festive Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo
🎅Welcome, Maisie what favourite food are you bringing to this Christmas Sunday brunch?
I’ll bring mince pies filled with home-made mincemeat. I make my own every year. You have to cook it very slowly on a low heat and while it’s in the oven, the delicious mixture of fruity and spicy aromas are released. It makes whole house smell of orange and lemons.
🎅Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a celebratory glass of Bucks Fizz?
Bucks Fizz, please. I always have a glass or two of that on Christmas Day and another glass with you will spread the festivities out for a little longer. And don’t worry about me raiding the coffee pot – I hate coffee in any form. If we have a box of chocs, it’s my husband’s job to eat the coffee-centre straight away so that I don’t choose it by mistake.
🎅Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio?
Around the kitchen table, please. That always feels such a cosy thing to do.
🎅Shall we have festive music playing in the background? And if so will you share with us a favourite Christmas song or piece of Christmas music that makes you happy?
I’ll bring with me my favourite CD of Christmas music, which a compilation of orchestral versions of jolly festive music, such as Deck the Halls, Troika and Sleigh Ride. I love this CD because I used to play it as background music in my classroom while we were making Christmas cards and doing other Christmassy crafts. There’s nowhere more exciting than an infants’ classroom in the run-up to Christmas! This music brings back lots of happy memories.
🎅Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today?
Georgette Heyer, Catherine Cookson, Anya Seton and Eleanor Hibbert (the real name of Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt/Philippa Carr) will be joining us – four wonderful writers. Victoria Holt’s gothic novels were among the first books “grown-up” books I read when I was in my early teens and I adored them.
🎅Which favourite Christmas book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?
We Wish You a Merry Murder by Valerie Wolzien. I love Christmas stories and this is the most Christmassy I’ve ever come across. It’s full of present-buying, cooking, parties and family stresses – oh yes, and solving a murder mystery at the same time.
🎅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!
I love reading. I come from a family of lifelong readers and library-users. I always have two books on the go – one print book and one audio. As for what I haven’t read yet… I read all of Thomas Hardy’s books years ago, except for Far From the Madding Crowd, which somehow or other got left out, so I’ve always meant to read that.
🎅What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?
I have a number of collections of short stories that were published in the 1930s, with titles like The Mammoth Book of Thrillers, Ghosts and Mysteries and A Century of Humour, which is one of a series of A Century of… books. But I think my oldest book is a first edition of The Dolly Dialogues by Anthony Hope from 1894. Not nearly so old is my copy of The Pickwick Papers – it’s a 1953 edition. It belonged to my dad, so it’s very special.
🎅Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?
A lot of the plots simply grow out of the characters themselves – the type of people they are and they way they react to things. The Railway Girls series is set during the Second World War, so I also use history books, especially books of oral history, and get ideas that way. Two or three lines in a book of oral history led to a whole chapter in the third Railway Girls books, which will be published next May.
🎅Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer?
In pre-pandemic days, I used to do much of my writing in the public library, where I’d just sit down and get on with work right away. Having to work at home took some getting used to and I still don’t manage the same output as before. If it’s a lovely sunny day, I have a particular place where I settle down near the sea and get on with my scribbling. Winter or summer? I don’t have a preference. Deadlines don’t care what month it is or what the weather’s like!
🎅Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?
I’m sure one of my cats would tell you that a tortie on the lap is an absolute must, though I’m not so sure about that. My four things are: routine, thorough planning, having reference books to hand, and not being interrupted.
🎅What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress?
I have finished writing the third book in the Railway Girls series. It’s called The Railway Girls in Love. And I’m working on the fourth book. The first three books all had the same viewpoint characters – Joan, Dot and Mabel. In book 4, there are different viewpoint characters. My readers already know these characters from the earlier books, but now they’ll have a chance to see the world through their eyes.
Maisie's latest novel
This second instalment of this exciting new saga series shows just how important friendship and love is in a time of uncertainty and change. We pick back up with Dot, Joan and Mabel as the war continues and secrets threaten their budding friendships. Brought together by their work on Manchester’s railways and a duty to help the war effort and those they love fighting overseas, these three amazing women find that with the support and encouragement of each other, they can get through even the most challenging of times.
More about Maisie
Maisie Thomas was born and brought up in Manchester, which provides the location for her Railway Girls novels. She loves writing stories with strong female characters, set in times when women needed determination and vision to make their mark. The Railway Girls series is inspired by her great aunt Jessie, who worked as a railway clerk during the First World War.
Maisie now lives on the beautiful North Wales coast with her railway enthusiast husband and their two rescue cats. They often enjoy holidays chugging up and down the UK’s heritage steam railways.
Maisie, where can we follow you on social media?
Thank you for inviting me to Sunday Brunch, Jo. I’ve loved being here.
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