Camembert, parsnips and sherry – we ask, what is your go-to Christmas dish?

Camembert, parsnips and sherry – we ask, what is your go-to Christmas dish?

Can you believe that it is December already? Here at Bookends HQ, we are MORE than ready for all the joys that the Christmas season brings – including the food! Next up in our Bookends Christmas author series, we’ve asked, what is your go-to Christmas dish?

Jill Mansell, author of This Could Change Everything

Coconut Lindt Lindors, amazing roast potatoes and a glass of sherry. Maybe not all at the same time. Then again, now that I’ve written it down it’s starting to sound rather delicious.

Beth Good, author of Winter Without You

Roast parsnips, for sure. I love them crispy brown on the outside and soft in the middle, and I don’t know why but they taste better at Christmas than any other day of the year.

Holly Bourne, author of How Do You Like Me Now?

My friends and I always have a girls’ night in on Christmas Eve, where we eat one baked Camembert each. Then we feel so ill afterwards that we can’t sleep when we get home, and spend actual Christmas day sleep-deprived, sweaty, groaning and messaging one another: “We’ve got to stop doing this each year. One cheese between three is enough.” But it’s sort of an unbreakable ritual now.

Cate Woods, author of More Than a Feeling

Nigella’s Christmas book introduced me to an Italian liqueur called Tuaca, which she winningly describes as panettone in a glass. A splash of this mixed with Prosecco is the perfect accompaniment to Christmas brunch: it’s like the beverage equivalent of ‘Good King Wenceslas’

This Could Change Everything coverWinter Without YouHow do you like me now coverMore than a feeling cover

 

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He’s making a list, and checking it twice…

He’s making a list, and checking it twice…

Next up in our Christmas author series, we asked our lovely authors Erin Kelly, Joanna Bolouri, Olivia Beirne and Daniela Sacerdoti a very important festive question: if you had to buy a Christmas gift for one of your characters, who would you choose and why?

 

Erin Kelly, author of He Said/She Said

Alice, the little girl from The Poison Tree, would be nineteen now. With parents like hers, she could probably do with a spa weekend or a course of therapy.

Joanna Bolouri, author of Relight My Fire

I would buy Phoebe from The List an iTunes gift card as she needs a better taste in music.

Olivia Beirne, author of The List That Changed My Life

Oh gosh that’s a good question. I think they’d all be terrible to buy for. I reckon I’d have to buy for Georgia and I think she’d really enjoy one of those cushion scarfs so that she could nap on the tube/in meetings/flick her sunglasses down so Sally can’t see her eyes when she’s talking. As I’m writing this, I realise that I would also really enjoy one of those and why haven’t I done all of those things sooner? 

Daniela Sacerdoti, author of I Will Find You

Oh, that’s hard…I would buy for all of them and feel bad if I forgot one! I think I would pick Cora from I Will Find You, and I would give her a voucher for John Lewis – I know a voucher can sound quite anonymous, but Cora loves weaving and sewing, and the selection of fabrics and craft materials in John Lewis is amazing…so I think she could go and have a little splurge on me. I would also like to make a girly package for Anna from Take Me Home, with a nice top and make up. Anna loves pretty things but she tends not to indulge herself, and treat her daughter instead (like most mums do!). So I’d like to spoil her a little.

He said she saidRelight my fireThe List That Changed My LifeI Will Find You

Graham Norton answers readers' questions

Graham Norton answers readers' questions

Graham Norton’s masterful, bestselling debut novel Holding, is now out in paperback. Some lucky reading groups from all over the country were given the chance to ask Graham a question about the novel, and here are his answers!

Did you plan to set your novel in a sleepy Irish village?

B’n’B Book Club, Dudley, West Midlands

Being “Graham Norton off the TV” is bit of a problem when it comes to writing a novel. I didn’t want to get in the way of the reader and the story. I deliberately decided not to set the novel in the world of media or even London. There are no gay characters and the situation isn’t really played for laughs. At the same time it was important to write about what I know and because my life is rather odd it wasn’t long before I realised that growing up in rural Ireland would provide one of the few settings that I knew very well and might have broad appeal.

 

You are hosting a dinner party in Duneen, which three characters from Holding would you invite and why?

BIG Lottery Book Club, Birmingham, West Midlands

Great question. Brid would have to be there because she’d bring the wine and the laughs. Susan because she has all the stories and gossip and Mrs. O’Driscoll from the shop because I have a feeling she might be very good fun if she let her hair down. She’d also be handy for fact checking Susan’s stories!

 

The title of the novel Holding: is this to do with clinging to the past or holding onto hope?  Are these two sides of the same coin and is the author trying to show the negative and positive aspects of each?

Shadforth WI Book Club, Durham

The title refers to all sorts of holding. A parcel of land is a small holding, waiting is called holding and then of course the more obvious meanings; holding on to things, being held by another person, or being held back. Something that really interests me is how some people get stuck in a moment from their lives. I’m very much of the mindset where you should get over things and yet I fully accept some people can’t. The discovery of the human remains gives the characters a chance to kick stat their lives. Some take it and others don’t.

 

Are you going to write more fiction in a similar vein?

Hayes End Library Reading Group, Hayes, Middlesex

I always said that I wanted to write a novel but once I actually commited to finish one I was filled with trepadation. What if I couldn’t or what if I could but hated the process? Had I just given myself the longest, most difficult homework assignment I’d ever had? Happily the process of writing Holding was one of the most enjoyable experiences in my working life. I loved the time I spent in Duneen with the people who live there. So much of my life requires meetings and collaboration with other people, so sitting in a room alone making all the decisions by myself was a wonderful release. The next book is a strange, almost gothic love story set in rural Ireland. At the moment I’m just plotting the story and fleshing out the characters so it may end up being something else entirely when I actually start writing it. There are no rules and that is what makes it all so fun and terrifying at the same time.

Holding

 

Quick Fire Q&A with Louise Lee

Quick Fire Q&A with Louise Lee

Author of A GIRL CALLED LOVE Louise Lee is back with the latest in the Florence Love series, IN THE NAME OF LOVE .

Flo finds herself racing around Italy on a borrowed Vespa in the name of love. Bambi Love, specifically. Her mum – missing for twenty-five years. The one case that’s still unresolved. Although it’s quite difficult not to get distracted when a beautiful Italian stranger enters Flo’s life…

To celebrate release of IN THE NAME OF LOVE, we caught up with Louise Lee for a quick-fire Q&A

If I had to go back in time and choose another career…

A criminal psychologist. I love psychopaths.

My guilty pleasure…

Keeping up with the Kardashians. I apologise. Sincerely.

The last time I went to the cinema…

Last Friday. Girl on the Train. An hour and a half I’ll never get back.

The book (by another author) that I wish I had written…

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

The one piece of advice I would give my teenage self…

You are sooo loved. Now get over yourself, you miserable cow.

If I had to choose between saying everything I think or never speaking again…

Saying everything.  I’m excellent at doing that already

If I had to choose between appearing on Strictly Come Dancing or X Factor…

Strictly. I’m obsessed. It’s on my bucket list, so I need to get famous fast.

When I was 5 years old I wanted to be…

In the dancing troop that starred on Anglia’s Seaside Specials in the 70’s. Failing that, in Hot Gossip.

My favourite city in the world…

Rome. In The Name of Love is set there. The research trips were tipsy and a joy.

If I had to re-build my house with either gingerbread or chocolate…

Chocolate. Gingerbread evokes morning sickness memories.

 

IN THE NAME OF LOVE is out this today…order here 

If you liked this why not try…

Read a FREE extract of Louise Lee’s A Girl Called Love

Or,

Florence Love, The PI’s Handbag 101

 

My Perfect Weekend – Kathryn Hughes

My Perfect Weekend – Kathryn Hughes

Long lie in or up with the lark?  Neither!  A short lie in until about 8.30am

Full English or super-food smoothie?  A nearly-full English, but no bread, sausages or black pudding.

City break or escape to the country?  A long walk, preferably coastal, and then a pub with a beer garden, or if its winter, a pub with a roaring log fire.

Bookshop browsing or exploring a library?  Definitely a book shop.  The books smell better.

Re-reading an old favourite or trying something different?  I am an e-reader addict so I’ve always got something different to try.  The only physical books I buy now are cookery books or books with lots of pictures or photos in them.

Cocktails or coffee?  Cocktails!  Does anybody ever say coffee?

Traditional Sunday roast or grand kitchen experiments?  Sunday roast. There would be open revolt in my house if I tried anything else on a Sunday.

Time to write or time to step away from the computer?  I do not enter my office at the weekend, but a notebook is always to hand ready to jot down ideas as they come to me.

Radio 2 or Radio 4?  I’m not a fan of national radio.  I don’t need to know about roadworks on the A339 near Basingstoke.  I stick to Radio Manchester.

A trip to the cinema or a DVD on the sofa?  A DVD on the sofa because I can pause the film and ask my husband what’s going on and there is nobody behind me munching their way through an industrial-sized bucket of popcorn.

You can purchase THE SECRET in eBook or paperback here

Liked this? Why not try 

A Quick-Fire Q&A with Kathryn Hughes

Or

Read a free extract of Kathryn’s best-selling novel THE LETTER here

A Quick-Fire Q&A with Kathryn Hughes

A Quick-Fire Q&A with Kathryn Hughes

Following her bestselling debut novel THE LETTER, we sat down with Kathryn for a quickfire Q&A before the release of her next novel THE SECRET…

The first album I ever bought…The Grease Soundtrack. I was fourteen when the film came out and I knew every word of every song.  In fact, I still do.

The book I’ve read the most times. The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.  I could not get enough of Silky, Moonface and Dame Washalot.

My favourite city in the world…Vancouver. It’s where I got married twenty five years ago in the Rose Garden in Stanley Park, with just my husband and two strangers as witnesses.

If I had to choose between appearing on Strictly Come Dancing or X Factor….Although I don’t have a sob story, it would have to be the X Factor because I am tone deaf so that should see me through a few rounds at least.

My most memorable meal…One my husband cooked for me. I knew things had not gone well when he asked me how many slices of gravy I wanted.

If I had to eat the same meal for dinner every day for the rest of my life…well it certainly wouldn’t be the one above! It would have to be lemon, garlic and thyme scented roast chicken with all the trimmings.

The best thing about being a writer…creating characters who become friends and then killing them off when they annoy me.

The book (by another author) that I wish I had writtenMaster of the Game by Sidney Sheldon. An epic book and a masterclass in pure story telling.

The one piece of advice I would give my teenage self…Don’t sweat the small stuff. None of it will matter when you’re grown up.

 The comedian who makes me laugh the most…Jason Manford, because I can relate to his Northern humour and he has not let his success go to his head.

If you’re already desperate to get your hands on THE SECRET, you can purchase the eBook or pre order the paperback here

If you liked this, why not try 

Kathryn’s all time favourite reads 

Or

A free extract of THE SECRET

 

A quick-fire Q&A with Kate Humble

A quick-fire Q&A with Kate Humble

Following her debut book, HUMBLE BY NATURE, TV Presenter Kate Humble explores the heartwarming relationship between man and his best friend in FRIEND FOR LIFE: THE EXTRAORDINARY PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN HUMANS AND DOGS. We caught up with Kate for one of our quick-fire Q&A’s,

If I were to be stranded on a desert island, my one luxury item would be…a scuba diving kit with a magic tank of air that never runs out.

The book I’ve read the most times…Grimble & Grimble at Christmas by Clement Freud.

My guilty pleasure…Cheese, the bluer and stinkier the better.

The thing I could never give upFreedom of speech.

The book (by another author) that I wish I had written…Picture Palace by Paul Theroux.

When I was 5 years old I wanted to be…A stunt rider in the circus

The comedian who makes me laugh the most…Miles Jupp

If I want to relax…I go for a big walk with my dogs and leave my phone at home.

The best invention ever…Gore-tex, I’d have disintegrated by now without it.

The best thing about being a writer…The final full-stop.

Pre order FRIEND FOR LIFE: THE EXTRAORDINARY PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN HUMANS AND DOGS here,

If you liked this, why not try…

A quick-fire Q&A with Chris Cleave

Or, 

Quick-fire Q&A with Victoria Walters

 

A quick-fire Q&A with Maggie O'Farrell

A quick-fire Q&A with Maggie O'Farrell

Sunday Times bestseller and Costa Novel Award-winner Maggie O’Farrell is about to release one of the most talked about books this year, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE. With just over a week until its release, we caught up with Maggie for a quick-fire Q&A…

My most memorable meal…I had just been on the Trans-Siberian express and had been surviving on noodles for a week. When I got off in Beijing I went to this amazing vegetarian Chinese restaurant; it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten.

The last song I listened to…‘Train Song’ by Vashti Bunyan. She’s a folk singer from the seventies and she kind of disappeared. There were a couple of female folk singers who had big success in the seventies and then just vanished, dropped out of life. It’s a beautiful song.

The book I’ve read the most times…Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

My guilty pleasure…Chocolate, though specifically Charbonnel & Walker violet creams.

The item I have more of than anything else…Pens, I can never not buy pens. And shoes. Actually, probably pens, notebooks and shoes.

The last time I went to the cinema…I went to see Hail, Ceasar! by the Coen Brothers. I love the Coen Brothers; they’re among my favourite filmmakers. Wes Anderson is probably my favourite of them all.

The book (by another author) that I wish I had written…The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The best play I’ve seen…Elsinore by Robert Lepage – he’s a French Canadian dramatist. This is his one-man version of Hamlet. It sounds very unlikely but it was the most beautiful, amazing thing. He played every single part simultaneously; he’s a genius. He managed to do it all with tricks of light and costumes and voices and it was mesmerising.

The one piece of advice I would give my teenage self…Not to give up, it’s all going to get better and also don’t over pluck your eyebrows.

If I had to eat the same meal for dinner every day for the rest of my life it would be…I would eat aubergine and tofu ho fun. Chinese food, I love Chinese food.

Pre-order THIS MUST BE THE PLACE here,

Enjoyed this? Why not try…

Quick-fire Q&A with Emma Hannigan

Or, 

Quick-fire Q&A with Harriet Evans

Quick-fire Q&A with Harriet Evans

Quick-fire Q&A with Harriet Evans

When I was a child I wanted to be…

An actress in musicals, ideally either Maria in The Sound of Music or Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls. Still do, in fact!

The moment that changed me forever…

I don’t remember it, but probably my dad’s car accident when I was nine months old. I think our family would have been very different if it hadn’t happened, for worse as well as better as some good things do come out of terrible events.

My greatest inspiration…

 … is rereading books I’ve loved that remind me why I absolutely adore what I do and why I want to write and how I can try to be better all the time.

At night I dream of…

I don’t really dream, or I don’t remember them anyway. I dream during the day instead!

The shop I can’t walk past…

Junk shops that sell anything and everything. I’m a sucker for a collapsible wooden tea tray or a miniature dog’s head in plaster that can be hung on the wall.

The best invention ever…

Disposable nappies. Thank you, faceless inventor of the disposable nappy, from parents around the world.

If I have time to myself…

I’m a writer! I have nothing but time to myself all day and it’s terrible! I am so weird to the first person I see when I leave the house after a day alone and often freak them out with my over-chattiness and TMI sharing… Have you seen my mole? Have you ever eaten a whole wedge of cheese before? Do you like my hair like this? I miss having people to chat to.

My house is…

Tall and thin with lots of stairs. And no cupboards. Except the horizontal ones also known as ‘floors’.

My most valuable possession is…

Aside from my family, if the house was burning down I’d rescue two books: my first editions of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. I think the first one actually belongs to my mum and I should give it back to her now in case of hypothetical fire.

My favourite building…

The cottage we stayed in on Frenchman’s Creek in Cornwall. Not only was it by the Helford, and the most beautiful spot in the world, it was very mysterious and you felt at any time you might actually walk past a crumbling house lost in the mists of time, and it helped me enormously to write The Butterfly Summer.

Favourite children’s book is…

Impossible to pick one but I loved book series: Veronica at the Wells, anything by Noel Streatfeild, C.S. Lewis and last year I read Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson which has to be up there.

My favourite film is…

Four Weddings and a Funeral. Perfect script, acting, concept, everything. In fact, the perfect film in my humble opinion. (Apart from ‘is it still raining…?’).

My guilty pleasure is…

Such a cliché but since I had my daughter I have such a sweet tooth and it’s terrible. I have a secret stash of chocolates.

Harriet Evans new novel THE BUTTERFLY SUMMER is out 19th May. Find out more about what to expect here

 

Liked this? Why not catch up on…

… Tray Rees’ quick-fire Q&A

… Kathryn Hughes favourite books of all time