Sunday 15 May 2022

🍴 Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Janet Dean Knight

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 Janet Dean Knight to Sunday Brunch 

Janet, welcome to Jaffareadstoo,what favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

A lovely piece of smoked haddock cooked in milk, topped off with a poached egg.

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

Let’s celebrate, I’ll go with the fizz! (Might even miss out the orange juice…)

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

Weather permitting the patio please, preferably in May or June.

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

For brunch I’d be happy to have something lively like jazz or soul music – Otis Redding’s Happy Song would be perfect to set the mood.

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

I have a long list – is there a nice big table?

Early influences I would love to have met include Lynne Reid Banks (The L-Shaped Room) JD Salinger, (The Catcher In The Rye, still a favourite, I know it’s a marmite choice), Chaim Potok (The Chosen), James Baldwin (Giovanni’s Room) and Doris Lessing (The Golden Notebook). Also Isaac Bashevis Singer (The Slave), Carol Shields (Larry’s Party) and Angela Carter (Nights at the Circus).

Living writers I would love to meet and chat over brunch include Kate Atkinson, Anne Tyler, Sarah Waters, Margaret Atwood, Patrick Gale, Sebastian Barry, Bernardine Evaristo, Donna Tartt and Maggie O’Farrell.

As I said, big table!

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

Probably Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – I read it last year and it’s still haunting me. I don’t normally go in for any kind of magic realism, but she creates a world which is fascinating and although confusing, entirely readable. And there’s an amazing twist 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 do find it hard to read a lot when I’m in writing mode – I want to keep my writing voices in my head and not crowd them out with others. So I read in spurts and hopefully that feeds into my writing.

I’ve got a pile in my study and pile by my bed which includes Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy, How To Be Both by Ali Smith and Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. At the moment I’m reading The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry and Lowside of the Road a biography of Tom Waits by Barney Hoskyns.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

My published debut novel The Peacemaker was based on family history research and stories from my mother about her parents and her own life – it covers the first and second world wars and is about a young woman whose life follows her mother’s – both are overshadowed by war or the prospect of war.

My second novel Does She Love Us? is looking for a publisher. It is set in 1963 and draws on my own early memories and observations of my mother and her friends. The story is about women who struggle to find their independence in that period and is driven by my interest in social history.

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

I write in my study which also doubles as a formal dining room a couple of times a year. If I’m stuck or really need to focus, I go to a library to write, or actually go away for a week or more, in a holiday let or to stay at a friend’s if they are on holiday. I haven’t noticed much difference between summer or winter, it depends whether I am in a writing ‘groove’ or not.

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

Deadlines are great for me, they help me focus and I don’t get distracted. It’s writing not to a deadline that allows me to leave work and fiddle about with other things. If I’m stuck on my novel I’ll write poetry. If I’m stuck on poetry I’ll be on Twitter, probably.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

A place to write – preferably A Room of One’s Own in the Virginia Woolf mode, but if not a space and some quiet if you need it.

Good writing tools – a decent desktop (not expensive, but easy to use), a laptop or tablet for working on the go, nice notebooks (my current favourites are called Conceptum by Sigel which are like Moleskines but I like the paper more and the pages are numbered. I write on squared paper with a flowing ballpoint.

Financial stability – I found it hard to write when I was younger because I didn’t believe I could earn a living from it, so I had a different career, and had to wait until I had financial security before spending the time I needed on writing. Some people are able to fit writing around full time work and/or families, but I couldn’t. Most people earn very little from writing and do other jobs, it can be tough.

Support – For me this covers feedback about my writing from readers, other writers, mentors, family and also the support of other writers in the process of writing. I belong to writing groups and have writing ‘buddies’ who help to improve my writing and help with things like marketing.

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

My current work in progress (I’m doing final edits at the moment) is The Man In The Street Has No Shoes. It’s about a woman who passes a homeless man in the street and recognises him as the man she almost married forty years before. It’s set in the present day and the 1980s and is influenced by work I did in the housing sector. I hope it will be a good book group read, it’s an emotional drama, but explores lots of social issues.

Janet, here can we follow you on social media?

• Twitter: @jdeanknight

• Facebook page: Janet Dean Knight | Facebook

• Instagram: jdeanknight

• Blog/web url:

Thank you for sharing Sunday Brunch with us today

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