☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼
Summertime is here
☼ I'm delighted to welcome author Jo Bartlett to our Summer picnic ☼
☼Jo, welcome to Jaffareadstoo. What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?
Oh, great question! Probably my favourite picnic food is Wensleydale cheese with cranberries on sourdough crackers, topped with black grape halves. It means bringing a little board to chop the cheese and grapes on, but some things are worth going the extra mile for. Although, to be honest, I’ll happily picnic with a peanut butter sandwich and a packet of cheese and onion crisps, if the company is right! For dessert, it has to be strawberries and also some of the oozy chocolate brownies that my husband is a dab hand at whipping up.
☼What would you like to drink? We have white wine spritzers, locally brewed beer, traditional Pimms, sparkling elderflower cordial, or a thermos of tea or coffee
I went camping with my adult niece a couple of summers ago and she told she’d been asked one of those ‘would you rather’ questions, about whether she’d give up alcohol or tea for life, if she had to choose one. We’ve never had such an intense debate! In the end we decided we had to keep tea, because we drink that much more often, but it was an almost impossible dilemma. So, if I’m allowed, I’ll go for Pimms first please and then a lovely cup of tea with my brownies.
☼Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside or somewhere hot?
It’ll always be in the countryside for me. I only like the heat if I can slip into the pool whenever I fancy it and no-one wants sand in their sandwiches, do they? Much as I love my garden, if we picnic there, either one of the kids or one of the dogs is likely to gate-crash and nab the best of the food!
☼Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?
Definitely the hamper. I’m all for making an occasion and a celebration out of as many events as possible, so let’s go all out and spoil ourselves!
☼Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?
There’s a one-hundred and fifty acre stretch of woodland not far from where I live, where we can find the perfect shady glade. Although, it’s also walking distance from my favourite pub, so we’ll have a handy Plan B if the weather suddenly does that quintessentially British thing of deciding to open the heavens!
☼Which of your literary heroes (alive or dead) are joining us on the picnic today?
I’d love to have Charles Dickens there and ask him how he came up with the plot for a book that – as the recent film stated – essentially invented Christmas. Coming up with characters and a storyline line which, much like Shakespeare, has become part of the language and culture of an entire country is beyond even an author’s wildest imaginings. I’d love to meet Ruth Jones or Dawn French too, both of whom have written some fabulous novels and TV series. I’d ask them if being actors helps them to get inside the heads of the characters in their novels and whether the writing process is hugely different between the two mediums. That said, if I could only have one literary hero at the picnic, it would have to be Sue Townsend, who wrote the Adrian Mole books. I was the female version of Adrian growing up, with the same amount of angst and awkwardness, and the same desperate longing to be a writer. The stories are hilarious, but filled with pathos at the same time and, to me, Sue Townsend was nothing short of a genius.
☼Which summer read are you bringing with you today?
I’ve started to read a few more psychological dramas lately, probably because it’s quite different to the genre I spend my days writing. So it’ll be Lisa Jewell’s ‘The Family Upstairs’ tucked into the side of the wicker basket.
☼What is your earliest summer memory?
Probably playing ‘show-jumping’ in the back garden. My older sister desperately wanted to grow up and compete at the Horse of the Year Show – a dream she eventually fulfilled – and I just copied whatever she did. We had to be our own horses at that stage, so we’d ‘gallop’ around the garden Miranda Hart style, jumping over a broom handle balanced across two garden chairs. It must have made the neighbours laugh!
☼Do you have a summer music playlist ? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?
My daughter puts together the best playlists and I’ve discovered a lot of artists I’d never have heard of if I didn’t let her take over control of the music on our summer road trips. Although, let’s face it, nothing says summer like an old school singalong, so how about Summer Nights from Grease? I’ll take the John Travolta bit, if you can hit Olivia Newton-John’s high notes!
☼Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?
If I’m away on holiday, I like an easier read, mainly because, according to my family, I am a terminally nosey people watcher - I like to call it research! It means I get easily distracted listening to the conversation next to me, when I’m away somewhere, so I don’t want anything that has a really complex plot, as I need to be able to easily pick up where I left off.
☼Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter?
I find it easy to write anywhere and anytime. I think it comes from the days when I started out and was fitting writing around a full time job and a young family. If we are away on holiday, I usually wake up a couple of hours before everyone else, because sleep is generally a bit elusive, and I often get up and write two or three thousand words before the rest of the family rise for breakfast.
☼What can you tell us about your current book or WIP?
The second book in The Cornish Midwives’ series – A Summer Wedding for the Cornish Midwife – was released on the 1st July and I am just finishing the first draft of book 4 in the series, to go into my editor by the end of July. All the stories in the series are set in and around the Port Agnes midwifery unit, on the beautiful Cornish Atlantic coast. The stories are about community, friendship, love and, of course, more than a dash of medical drama! Think Call the Midwife meets Doc Martin and you’ll know what to expect.
The venue is booked, the dress is picked, and Senior Midwife Anna Jones only has to say ‘I Do!’ to the man she loves! Theirs might have been a whirlwind romance, but Brae Penrose is everything Anna dreamed her husband would be and she can’t wait to start a family with him. But as the big day approaches, Anna still isn’t pregnant and when disaster strikes, their perfect day looks destined not to happen at all! Is it a sign to slow things down? The other midwives won’t hear of Anna and Brae postponing their big day, and soon the whole community of Port Agnes comes together to make sure the Penrose wedding goes off without a hitch! And Anna realises, baby or not, she already has her dream family with Brae and her friends by her side. Meet The Cornish Midwives of Port Agnes- where community, friendship and love are always delivered.
Jo, where can we follow you on social media?
Twitter handle: @J_B_Writer
Facebook page: @JoBartlettAuthor
Instagram handle: jo_bartlett123
Jo, thank you for sharing your summer picnic with us today.
Follow on Twitter