Sunday, 5 June 2022

☀ Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Harriet Steel

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic

 and what better day to start than on this Platinum Jubilee Sunday

I'm delighted to welcome Harriet Steel to our Summer picnic
 on this special Platinum Jubilee 

 Which favourite foods are you bringing to our Jubilee picnic?

I’m very partial to coronation chicken so I’ll bring that. (A bit of a spicy theme even if not nearly as strong as Shanti de Silva would like it to be!) Some ripe tomatoes from the garden are always welcome along with cucumber, sweet peppers, and a crisp lettuce. I’ll have a try at making the Platinum Jubilee trifle. It looks so pretty and citrus flavours are a favourite of mine, but if my effort’s a disaster, a lemon tart from M&S may have to be a last-minute fix! I’ll also bring a selection of French and English cheeses with grapes and crackers.

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?

A white wine spritzer sounds an excellent idea, followed by tea, from Ceylon of course.

Where shall we sit, by the pool, on a beach, in the garden or in the countryside?

I love to be amongst flowers and trees, so I’ll choose the garden.

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth, and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?

As it’s the Platinum Jubilee, I think we must push the boat out, so wicker hamper, white tablecloth, proper cutlery, and crystal glasses.

Which of your literary heroes (alive or dead) are joining us on the picnic today?

There are so many writers I admire but my heroes have also stood the test of time. I’ve chosen Alexander Dumas and Agatha Christie.

Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?

The RHS garden at Wisley, not far from where we live, is a lovely spot.

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?

A hard one because there’s so much music I like, both classical and popular. I think I’ll choose Albatross by Fleetwood Mac. It speaks of summer and is one of the most relaxing pieces of music I know.

Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

A murder mystery might be too taxing as I’d have to work out who did it! Instead, I’d like something humorous and easy to read, so I’ll bring something by P G Wodehouse.

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!

Definitely, I’d miss reading for pleasure very much, but I tend to go for books that aren’t too long and are easy to read otherwise I can start to feel a bit bogged down. I’m fascinated by history – the first books I wrote were historical novels. Andrew Roberts’s biography of Napoleon has been sitting on my bedside table for months whilst I’ve been finishing the first draft of my next Inspector de Silva mystery. I’m looking forward to getting around to it.

Viking 2014

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

In all sorts of places really – articles in the papers, conversations I have with people, films, even other writers’ books.

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

I’m very lucky in having a room of my own where I write. It is a little harder to write in summer when the weather’s fine and the garden’s calling.

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

Again I’m very lucky because as a self-published author, my deadlines are mainly those I set myself. I try to be disciplined about writing, however, as it’s very easy to let oneself drift. If I’m stuck, a brisk walk usually leaves me refreshed and ready to get back to my desk.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

1) As Virginia Woolf wrote, a room or at least a space of your own is invaluable, so that you have peace and quiet to write.

2) Books. I don’t think you can be the best writer you’re able to be without being a reader too.

3) Someone who’ll be honest with you about your work from its initial stages onwards! My person is my husband.

4) A bottomless pot of tea, or for some people, coffee.

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

At the moment I’m working on book 12 of the Inspector de Silva Mysteries. In the last story, Shanti and Jane took a holiday to the fascinating seaside town of Galle where they became embroiled in a murder case. This time they’re back in Nuala and a film crew headed by a famous Bollywood actor is causing trouble in town.

Break from Nuala

It is autumn 1940, and Inspector de Silva and his wife Jane are looking forward to a well-earned holiday. But their hopes of a relaxing break in the picturesque city of Galle beside the Indian Ocean are dashed when death, mysterious illnesses, and a missing guest cast a gloomy shadow.

As they’re drawn into the investigation, the mystery deepens. Is there a villain amongst their fellow guests or further afield? The search for answers will lead them into great danger that has repercussions far beyond the island of Ceylon.

(The paperback edition of Break from Nuala includes Christmas in Nuala previously only published on Kindle.)

More about Harriet

Harriet Steel is a British author. Born in London, she grew up on a farm in Wiltshire. She now lives in Surrey and is married with two grown-up daughters. She graduated with a BA in Law from Cambridge University and has worked in fields from law to libraries.

Her love of history, art and travel influences her writing. She published four historical novels before turning to crime with her murder mystery series, The Inspector de Silva Mysteries. The idea for these was sparked off by a memorable trip to the lovely island of Sri Lanka, and they are set there in the 1930s when it was still the British colony, Ceylon.

As a reader, she’s particularly fond of vintage mysteries and would love to go back in time and spend a day having lunch with Hercule Poirot, tea with Miss Marple, and dinner at the Ritz with Lord Peter Wimsey.

 Harriet, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter - My Twitter name is @harrietsteel1

Facebook page - Harriet Steel Author

Thank you for sharing your Jubilee picnic with us

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