Sunday 14 November 2021

🍴Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Fiona Valpy

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  Fiona Valpy to our Sunday Brunch today

Welcome Fiona, what favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

Since I’m celebrating my latest book – The Storyteller of Casablanca – I’ll be bringing a Moroccan flavour to our brunch: some msemmen (a sort of breakfast bread), topped with melted butter and honey and some ghoribas, which are little soft cookies flavoured with orange.

Lake Union Publishing 2021

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

A nice pot of tea. Although I wouldn’t say no to a glass of fizz too! And I’ll bring along some mint tea to accompany our Moroccan treats.

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

As it’s November, let’s sit at the kitchen table - preferably with a cat or two curled up in front of a cosy fire.

Shall we have music playing in the background, and if so do you have a favourite piece of music?

Yes, definitely. I love Thea Gilmore, Amy Wadge and Beth Nielsen Chapman because they write songs about grief and hope – two of the major themes I often explore in my writing. There is grace and strength in their music. At the moment, my favourite is probably Thea Gilmore’s Rise.

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

I’d love to invite Josephine Baker, who features as one of the real-life characters that I included in The Storyteller of Casablanca. She was a truly amazing woman and I think she had a wonderful sense of humour too. Could we also invite Mr Darcy, Colonel Brandon and Mr Knightley from Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and Emma)? I’m sure Jane Austen wouldn’t mind lending them to us for the day.

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. It’s one of the best things I’ve read in recent years, hilarious and heart-breaking at the same time.

Harper Collins

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 always find time to read, even if it’s just a couple of paragraphs before I fall asleep at night. I have a tottering pile of books on my bedside table and it never seems to get any smaller, no matter how many I read. I’m a patron of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and have been sent all the shortlisted books but I haven’t got round to reading them yet – The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones are at the top of my TBR pile.

Little Brown Books

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

Anywhere and everywhere! A big part of being an author is making connections: the smallest things can lodge themselves in your brain and become part of a story when transferred to a different context or setting. It sounds obvious, but getting out there and living life is the best way by far to collect characters and storylines.

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

I definitely find it easier in winter. Summer brings too many distractions and living in Scotland means I feel I have to make the most of every drop of sunshine. But when the days shorten, I curl up on the sofa beside the fire and escape the darkness through my writing.

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

I’m all too easily distracted! I definitely helps having a deadline in place, though, as that focuses the mind. I try to create a structure in the day, and I do most of my writing in the mornings. When that deadline starts looming large, I have to be quite ruthless about locking myself away and saying ‘no’ to other demands. A little bit of pressure can be a good thing, but too much is definitely bad: it’s all about trying to find the balance.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

A pen and paper (yes, I still write the old-fashioned way first and then type up what I’ve written!)

Internet access for research

Lots of time

The determination to keep going.

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

I’m working on a novel set in Italy during World War 2 at the moment, as well as revising my first three books (The French for… series of contemporary novels) which are to be re-issued in the coming year, so that’s all keeping me busy.

The Storyteller of Casablanca is out now

Lake Union Publishing 
September 2021

Morocco, 1941. With France having fallen to Nazi occupation, twelve-year-old Jewish girl Josie has fled with her family to Casablanca, where they await safe passage to America. Life here is as intense as the sun, every sight, smell and sound overwhelming to the senses in a city filled with extraordinary characters. It’s a world away from the trouble back home—and Josie loves it.

Seventy years later, another new arrival in the intoxicating port city, Zoe, is struggling—with her marriage, her baby daughter and her new life as an expat in an unfamiliar place. But when she discovers a small wooden box and a diary from the 1940s beneath the floorboards of her daughter’s bedroom, Zoe enters the inner world of young Josie, who once looked out on the same view of the Atlantic Ocean, but who knew a very different Casablanca.

It’s not long before Zoe begins to see her adopted city through Josie’s eyes. But can a new perspective help her turn tragedy into hope, and find the comfort she needs to heal her broken heart?

Fiona, where can we follow you on social media?

Instagram: @valpyfiona

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

My pleasure – thanks for having me!

Follow us on Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo

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