Sunday, 21 March 2021

🍴Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Helen Hollick

 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 Helen Hollick to our Sunday Brunch today🍴

🍴Good morning, Helen. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

If it was later in the day I’d say shepherd’s pie (yum!) but maybe I’ll go with toasted bacon sandwiches - piles of crisp bacon topped with brown sauce.

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

I’m tempted by the tea but... let’s go for the Bucks Fizz!

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

Oh, the patio (assuming it’s not a cold day that is!) I had several friends visit my home in between the 2020 lockdown restrictions making good use of a gazebo erected on the patio. Sadly a strong gale destroyed it just before Christmas 😐 I will get a new one for 2021...


🍴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?

Yes please! I listen to The Piano Guys a lot – this one is particularly lovely (I’m listening to it as a write this) Or if you have Alexa just ask her to ‘Play the Piano Guys’. Or Cold Play will do!

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

The author Rosemary Sutcliff. She wins hands down, I regret that I never had the chance to meet her, but I do have a treasured letter encouraging me to write my first novel (The Kingmaking) written in her own hand and with her famous dolphin signature.

🍴Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

Goodness that’s a hard one! I think I’ll bring Mark Of The Horse Lord by Ms Sutcliff. I’ve read it dozens of times – and I still cry at the end!

🍴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 don’t have internet connection in my bedroom (I live in a stone-built eighteenth-century farmhouse that doesn’t lend itself to wi-fi in every room!) so I read most nights (on my Kindle as I am visually impaired and rely on the larger print) ... and there’s a huge To Be Read list on there!

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

Jill’s Gymkhana by Ruby Ferguson. I was given it as a 9th birthday present (I’m now 67) – and it was the book that introduced me to Pony Stories, which then inspired me to write my own stories. The next best thing to owning a real pony ... make one up.

🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

In that Other World which is often illusive but opens its doors unexpectedly and lets ideas flood through... which is a fancy way of saying ‘I’ve no idea it just comes!”

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

I have a study which is a sort of conservatory extension off the kitchen and dining room: my desk overlooks a section of the Taw Valley in North Devon. I look out on our orchard and the green, rolling hills of rich Devonshire farmland beyond. Directly outside is our bird table – at this moment a host of sparrows and chaffinches have joined us for brunch, but a variety of tits, the woodpecker, robin, blackbirds and nuthatches will all take their turn. If we’re lucky a buzzard might glide past... or perhaps one of the tame (rather portly) pheasants might come up onto the veranda to feed alongside my hens...

Taw Valley Mist
(author's photo)


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

Well taking the answer to the above question... um... very easily distracted, so I tend to write at night...

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

Wine. Tea. Coffee. Chocolate. Not necessarily in that order!

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

My latest is a venture into crime! I decided to write something different during lockdown, and to use my thirteen years of working in a public library as a basic idea. A Mirror Murder, a cosy mystery short novel is the result:

Sherlock Teddy
courtesy of Debbie Young

The first in a new series of cosy mysteries set in the 1970s... Will romance blossom between library assistant Jan Christopher and DC Laurie Walker – or will a brutal murder intervene? 

Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.

But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram, a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered... Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into murder?

Buying link:

Amazon Author Page (Universal Link)

Where can we follow you on social media?

• Twitter: @HelenHollick

• Blog/web url:


Helen and Mab

Helen and her family moved from north-east London in January 2013 after finding an eighteenth-century North Devon farmhouse through BBC TV’s popular Escape To The Country show.

First accepted for publication by William Heinemann in 1993 – a week after her fortieth birthday – Helen then became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she also writes a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She also runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction. She is currently writing more Voyages for the Sea Witch series and the next in the Jan Christopher Mysteries series. She has other ideas for other tales – and would like the time to write them!

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

Follow us on Twitter @Jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo


  1. Thank you so much Jaffa, Timmy and Jo - sadly no actual Bucks Fizz with me this morning, but it is a lovely day and I'm about to go out to sit in my front garden on the, as yet, gazebo-less patio with a coffee and that bacon buttie!

    Stay healthy and safe everyone

    1. Thank you, Helen, for being such a great guest and for sharing Sunday Brunch with us. It's been great fun :)

  2. Great interview - I enjoyed reading the insights into Helen's life!

    1. Thank you for visiting us, glad you enjoyed reading Helen's Sunday Brunch !

    2. Thank you Annie - I think my suggestion of a writer's necessities have been a popular reply!

  3. Always fun to read Helen's interviews and learn more about her life in the country and as a bestselling author. Today, I especially like her advice on "essentials a writer absolutely needs." Glad, Mab lent a whisker for a great photo.

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comments. Glad you had fun :)

    2. Thankyou Inge ... yes, chocolate is essential... LOL

  4. What a very interesting conversation, Jo and Helen!
    Wine. Tea. Coffee. Chocolate. Yes, that's my recipe, too. ;-)
    I didn't know you were such a Rosemary Sutcliff fan, Helen. She's a fascinating author.

    I hope you're busy writing the sequel to A Mirror Mystery in between brunches and glasses of wine.

    1. Thanks Alison, lovely to see you again :)

    2. I've loved Rosemary Sutcliff since my school years when our (very austere) English teacher suddenly announced no more lessons, she was going to read to us instead. (Sutcliff's The Queen Elizabeth Story) I was entranced! Not sure, now, if this happened near the end of term or Mrs LLewellyn merely got fed up with teaching us!
      Mark Of The Horse Lord is my favourite story (followed by Frontier Wolf). I( have a much treasured letter from Rosemary - complete with her famous dolphin signature.


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