Cuppa and a Cornish cream cake with Liz Fenwick

As you know we love a good cuppa and a cake on this site and well we love a Cornish cream cake in particular so who better to sample the delights of the latest booktrailer bakes, than our lovely friend Liz Fenwick. We think its only right that at Booktrail Towers we try and match the cake to the writer and so Cuppa and a cream cake with Liz Fenwick was born…

Lovely Liz Fenwick has popped over for some lovely Cornish cream tea today. Hi Liz!
Lovely Liz Fenwick has popped over for some lovely Cornish cream tea today. Hi Liz!

Sit yourself down now. Never mind the cat – he’ll soon move….ah there he goes, bless him, he’s a little shy at the moment. Yes he’s new- found him abandoned in an old house sitting amongst the old and empty bookshelves and I thought – do you know what? That’s the cat for Booktrail towers. He hasn’t got a name yet though. Am working on it.

Back to the cakes – are these alright? Take your pick. I’ve got some tupperware so you can take home what we don’t finish. It’s so lovely to see you Liz, I feel as if you’re an old friend having read all of your books but I’ve still got loads of questions to ask you…

Liz's locations of choice - Cornwall! - Pic courtesy of Liz Fenwick
Liz’s locations of choice – Cornwall! – Pic courtesy of Liz Fenwick

You’ve written three great novels set in Cornwall. what is it about the region that you love so much?

It’s the landscape…it just gets right into my soul. Everywhere I turn I ‘see’ stories and they niggle me until I tell them.

Where is your favourite place in Cornwall to visit – maybe have a coffee or write?

My favourite spot to have a drink is the Helford River Sailing Club. The view from the balcony is stunning. It’s so distracting I can’t write there but it does fill the creative’ well’ in me so that I can call upon the view and feel the breeze when I am away from it.

The famous Frenchman's Creek from A Cornish Stranger - pic courtesy of Liz Fenwick
The famous Frenchman’s Creek from A Cornish Stranger – pic courtesy of Liz Fenwick

How important do you feel setting is to your novels?

Vital. Without Cornwall the books wouldn’t transport the reader to a special place. In my novels, the setting and the stories are woven together. In A Cornish Affair, Jude falls in love with the place and this opens her heart to let love in. In fact I fell for Cornwall on my first visit and the love affair hasn’t stopped. The setting on Frenchman’s Creek is integral to A Cornish Stranger from the tides to the isolation. The settings are woven through and are almost a character in themselves.

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In a Cornish Stranger, your latest novel, you write about the Cornish saying ‘Save a stranger from the sea, he’ll turn your enemy…’ Can you tell us more about this?

I found this phrase when I was doing some research for another book and instantly I stopped in my tracks and thought WOW. That statement goes against all the things you hear about savings someone’s life. The story began to take shape immediately especially the setting. I knew I wanted the book set in the cabin at the mouth of Frenchman’s Creek.

Which other Cornish delights can  you tell us about? (things to eat, sayings etc)

I am discovering more about Cornwall all the time. I think the joy of being an outsider is that everything is new…nothing is taken for granted from jam first on your scones with clotted cream to the local beer. The best ‘food’ thing about Cornwall for me is fresh mackerel caught and cooked on the beach within minutes. There is no food like it and before Cornwall I was no fan of mackerel but now when we are here I can’t eat enough.

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In A Cornish House, you write such lovely visual prose such as when Maddie enters Trevenen for the first time –  “The disturbance caused dust to swirl and a sigh seemed to emerge from the walls.” Do you visualise setting and characters in your head before you write or do they appear as you are writing?

When I’m writing I don’t see the computer screen or the keyboard I see the scene in front of me as if it was a movie or I was just watching it from my character’s view point. I think’s very important to be in your character’s head. For example how Maddie view’s Cornwall is vastly different to her stepdaughter Hannah. They ‘see’ different things. In A Cornish Stranger Jaunty is an old artist who looks at the world  in a different way to her 30 year old granddaughter who is musician.

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In a Cornish Affair, the underlying mystery and the family history are very enticing. Do you yourself like to read mystery novels? What kind of mysteries do you enjoy? I love Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels and I think that must have been in the back of my mind when I wrote A Cornish Affair. Of course I didn’t realize that when I was writing…that was just what the story required.

Right now  for the prize of the last cream cake – Quick fire round – 

Cornish pasty or Stargazy pie? Pasty (Phew that pie with the fish sticking out looks a bit strange)

Icecream or cream tea? Ice cream, please ( well we have just eaten a cream tea I guess)

Ideal holiday destination? Cornwall or the Maldives with my whole family for both locations

Which writer, dead or alive, would you like to meet and why? 

This is a tough one…do I say the one who gave me the most pleasure over the years or the one I think would be most interesting to chat with… I think it might be Agatha Christie. I have come to her books late ( about five years ago) although I have known the stories from tv for years. I would love to pick her mind on her books and talk to her about her time in the Middle East.

Aah thanks Liz. I really enjoyed our chat. Have a cuppa and relax for a bit. Put your feet up – and have the last cream cake – you’ve earned it hehe

When Liz finishes up here she’ll be heading back over to her home at http://lizfenwick.com/ and of course on Twitter – @liz_fenwick

Cuppa and a cake with Natalie Meg Evans – author of The Dress Thief

Preparing for a very fashionable guest!
Preparing for a very fashionable guest!

If you haven’t read The Dress Thief then we advise you to get yourself straight over to your local bookstore and buy it straight away. Yes it’s that good mixing historical fact about the 1920s in Paris and the Civil war in Spain with an insight into the famous Parisian fashion houses and the huge fashion industry. Set in Paris, France and Durango and Guernica in Spain, this is one meaty fine read.

So, today, we’ve got that lovely lady who wrote the book stopping by. She’s heard about the fine cakes we make and to be honest I’ve been wanting to talk to her and pick her brains about the locations in her novel and the fashions too for a while now. So here she is –

Natalie Meg Evans - author of The Dress Thief
Natalie Meg Evans – author of The Dress Thief

Can you tell us a bit about what attracted you to the story of copyists who would ‘steal the designs’ of Chanel and other major designers?

When I first went to live in London in the early 1980s (the days of big shoulder pads and mega-hold hair gel) I sublet a flat from a man who imported clothes for the UK market.  He went on to take a shop on The King’s Road, with a franchise for one of the biggest fashion names at the time. A French fashion company, but I’ll say no more.  He was constantly ranting about cheap ripoffs coming in from Asia, undercutting his very expensive new brand.  At the time, he was selling fancy sweatshirts for an eye-watering £25 (a lot in those days) so there was obviously a market for cheap copies.  He would go ballistic when he found copies being knocked out on London market stalls. Interestingly, was very proud of his ‘Schneid’ Rolex, ‘schneid’ being his term for fake.  He even tried to sell my now-husband one!  It showed me that copying is only painful if it’s you who is being copied!  It’s an aspect of the fashion and luxury goods industry that doesn’t just exist in parallel, it goes some way to drive the market.  And it’s as old as time.  I bet there was a roaring trade in couture togas.

I like the dark corners of any world I research – they reveal the most interesting secrets.

An aerial shot of the most fashionable city in the world
An aerial shot of the most fashionable city in the world

Did you visit all the locations as you researched your novel?

Absolutely, over several visits.  I have copious notes that I still refer to.  I would stand on pavements writing details of the colours of the stonework, the paint on the shutters, the way shadows fall, the smells and sounds, as these are the details novelists like.  But of course, I write about 1930s Paris which is not the city you see today, so I have old maps and guide books written up until the late ’50s which was the time that Paris really started to change.  Would you believe, in the 1960s there was a serious plan afoot to turn the Seine into a super-motorway?  Bonkers!

What do you like about the famous ‘Deux Magot’s restaurant and cafe in the city?

It’s place in literary history makes it a must-visit.  Along with the Café de Flore it was one of those places that attracted a particular kind of wirter/poet/thinker.  If I could travel back in time, I would be to Paris in the late 20’s, early 30’s.  I would be a writer with just enough money to live, burning with the desire to get my vision of the world down on paper.  I’d spend my mornings drinking coffee at the Deux Magots, bumping shoulders with Ernest Hemmingway, Simone de Beauvoir, James Joyce.  I’d have lunch somewhere cheap, like the Lapin Agile in Montmartre, and spend my nights listening to jazz in Pigalle.  It was a time of radical social change, with new ideas bubbling. It was a time of political innocence too, when people truly believed a fairer world could come about because men and women were prepared to fight for it.  The Deux Magots exemplifies that time and spirit.  The magots themselves, gazing silently down, must have some incredible tales to tell, if only they could.

Flowers in Natalie's garden
Flowers in Natalie’s meadow near her home

Do you own anything in Lanvin blue?

No, except for some wild chicory flowers growing in my meadow here in Suffolk.  They are nature’s nearest stab at Lanvin blue which is an intense hue edging slightly towards purple.

What fashions of 1930s Paris would you liked to have worn? (I love cloche hats for example)

A sketch from Natalie's notebook
A sketch from Natalie’s notebook

I too love 20s and 30s style –  that straight-down, classy look.  I’m more a 30s woman than a 20s – flapper dresses would have been a disaster on me. I’m narrow hipped which is good for that time but I am, shall we say a little more generously proportioned above.   I also have the worst shaped head for a cloche, my head being small with a narrow brow.   So, I would have welcomed the arrival of broad shoulders in the mid-thirties.  The inverted triangle shape would have suited me and I’d have loved sassy trilby-style hats that could be tilted and raised at the back to balance a small head.  I won’t wear fur, but I can appreciate the aesthetic of a luxurious bed of silver fox on the shoulders.  Maybe I could have improvised with thick velvet collars.

Oh the sumptuous material and the fashion houses...the decadence and the glamour
Oh the sumptuous material and the fashion houses…the decadence and the glamour

Can you tell us about your next novel The Milliner’s Secret and its settings?

This is the story of Coralie de Lirac who is in fact a plain-spoken London girl who runs away to Paris – and ‘becomes’ French to escape a traumatic life.  She takes fairly basic millinery skills with her and being resourceful, turns them into a great career.  Paris is the backdrop, and the story runs from 1937, through the German occupation, to liberation in 1944.  It tells of a woman’s survival in painful circumstances, and the choices she has to make. Not always moral choices.  It’s also a story about love and the terrible sacrifices people make for those they care for.  And it has hats, and fashion too!  The Milliner’s Secret straddles Left and Right Bank Paris; Rue de Seine to Rue Royale.  For those who like a bit of Montmartre Boho nightlife, the Rose Noire nightclub is back, and scene of some rousing and terrifying moments.

Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express was an inspiration for Coralie de Lirac

Thanks to Natalie who popped by today – she’s off on her travels again. Looking forward to my next visit to Paris with her!

Visit Natalie here on her website – http://www.wordyhood.com/

and on twitter – @natmegevans

Cuppa and a cake with Fran Pickering – Cherry Blossom Murder – Japan

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It’s a lovely sunny day here at Booktrail towers and we have a lovely lady coming over for a cuppa and a cake – Fran Pickering author of the Cherry Blossom Murder which we feature in a booktrail has come over to see us for some cake (cherry of course) and a cuppa of Japanese tea…

Hi Fran.

Fran has popped over for a slice of cherry pie
Fran has popped over for a slice of cherry pie

Here, you sit there, I’ve fluffed up the cushions – now you have a choice of cakes today – cherry cake I made or a cherry bakewell or a cherry pie (I got a bit carried away after watching the Great British Bakeoff yesterday)… Why not have a taste of all three?

Your book The Cherry Blossom Murder, is really evocative of Japan and I’m intrigued to know what your connection to Japan is and your interest in it?

I’ve always been interested in Japan but never expected to actually go there – it always seemed impossibly far off. But then my husband and I took our courage in both hands and went there for a short holiday and found we liked it so much we kept going back. We made a lot of Japanese friends and learned to speak and read Japanese, which led to my being sent there as part of my work, so it just grew and grew. Now I think of it as a second home.

How did you research your book? By going to the places that you mention in it?

Pic courtesy of Fran Pickering
Pic courtesy of Fran Pickering

I didn’t need to – I knew the places so well already. I’ve been a member of a Takarazuka fan club like the one in The Cherry Blossom Murder since the 1990’s and I visit Japan often to see the shows and catch up with my friends, so the settings came naturally. If there were any details I couldn’t recall I’d check them on Google street view. Places I describe in Tokyo are based on places where I used to live and work, and Josie’s friends are composites of people I know. I’ve been to Takarazuka in cherry blossom time and it’s so lovely. This picture is of the Flower Path, near where Mai-chan’s body is found in the book.

the cherry blossom in the parks and streets
The Flower Path near where Mai- Chain’s body is found in the book

Tell us about the Takarazuka Revue

The Takarazuka Revue is amazing – four hundred actress putting on spectacular song and dance shows with fabulous over-the-top costumes twice-daily in two massive 2,000-seater theatres, one in Tokyo and one in Takarazuka town, just outside of Osaka. It’s so popular they even have their own television channel. All the actresses are young and so talented. The stars are hugely popular, especially the ones who play men in the shows; hundreds of fans wait outside the theatre to see them arrive and leave. It’s the opposite of the kabuki, where men play women, just like actors used to do in Shakespeare’s day. This is year is the Takarazuka Revue’s hundredth anniversary, so I just had to go over and see a show.

What is your character, Josie, like?

Josie likes to think of herself as  a down-to-earth, feet on the ground sort of person, but actually she can’t say no to the chance of an adventure, like going to live and work in Japan, or investigating a murder. She knows she’s an oddity in Japan because she’s so tall, but she tries hard to fit in and be accepted, and she’s secretly rather proud of how well she speaks Japanese. She has a long-term English boyfriend, Dave, who she cares about more than she likes to admit and she misses her Mum back home in London, but she’s determined to make a success of her Japanese life.

You write a blog about the Japanese related events and places to visit in London. Where can we go to read The Cherry Blossom Murder to place ourselves in Japan?

I would suggest the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. It’s a beautiful and calm space with a waterfall and a lovely little lake where colourful carp swim. There are stone Japanese lanterns by the lake and a little bridge that you can walk across. 

the Japanese garden - Photo from Fran Pickering
the Japanese garden – Photo from Fran Pickering

Or else, if you’re lucky enough to be reading the book in cherry blossom season (roughly early to mid-April), then I’d suggest Kew Gardens. It has dozens of varieties of cherry trees and the great white cherry in the Japanese landscape garden is a fantastic sight in full flower. 

Or, if you prefer to stay indoors, you can find some great Japanese restaurants in London. I’d recommend  Koya in Soho for wonderful noodles (but be prepared to queue) or Sake no Hana on St James’s Street for excellent sushi and sashimi.

What should we eat and drink when reading your book? (any Japanese delicacies that you want to tell us about?)

Josie loves Japanese food, and she has a lot of typical Japanese meals while she’s out and about investigating the murder.  In meetings at work the office lady will often serve green tea with mochi (little buns filled with sweet bean paste). Josie has a bad coffee habit but she also likes Yuzu tea (yuzu is a sort of cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange). So I would suggest Yuzu tea and green tea chiffon cake like the one Josie has at cafe West in Ginza. 

Ooh please tell us about your next book!

My next book is called The Haiku Murder and it’s coming out this October. Josie goes on a haiku-writing trip to Matsuyama in Shikoku, the smallest of the five Japanese islands, and one of her party falls off the top of Matsuyama castle and is killed. Everyone thinks it’s an accident, but Josie knows it’s murder and her investigations lead her to uncover a web of deceit with money and jealousy at its heart. Who’d have thought that poetry could be so dangerous?

Visit Fran here – http://franpickering.com/ or on twitter  @franpickering

The Miniaturist comes for a cuppa and a cake

The booktrailer is meeting with the author of The Miniaturist today – Jessie Burton no less. To say that I’m excited is an understatement particularly since the invitation came in a rather unusual way…

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I was sitting, reading, in Booktrail towers when I hear a thud on the carpet just inside the door. Not this is not so unusual since the postman has been known to post bookmail through. But when I went to see what book present I had received, I notice that it is lighter than most and is wrapped in smooth brown paper. Puzzled I look closer and see that there is a brown piece of string tied around it AND A PICTURE OF THE SUN ON IT. I gasp and out of shock almost drop the parcel in both excitement and as if it has suddenly grown very hot.

There is a sentence written around the sun in black letters – EVERY AUTHOR NEEDS TEA AND CAKE. I smile then for I know now what I will find in the parcel. It is still with trembling fingers how ever that I manage to untie the parcel full of expectation. And from the tissue paper inside, I take out several objects – a miniature Jessie Burton, a miniature booktrailer, some miniature cakes and two miniature cups of tea. There is another treasure in the parcel, tucked in a separate piece of paper and wrapped in a bubble wrap of sorts. This must be something more delicate than most I tell myself.

And it is, for when I open it, it is the smallest, most perfect vase of yellow tulips that I ever did see. On the back of the vase are the numbers 25.6.14 at 4pm. And then I know what I must do and for what I must prepare. These objects will be the architect of our very good fortune….

So , I set about recreating the scene that the author for the Miniaturist has set for me – I hope I have served her well….

 

The scene inspired by The Miniaturist lady
The scene inspired by The Miniaturist lady

So, you can imagine my excitement and nervousness when she  arrives! I know I have written quite a few booktrail posts on this book but it has inspired me and captured my imagination in such a way that I could not resist to write about it and spread the word. And now The Miniaturist is here herself. Aaaaah.

Hi Jessie, do  come in..the scene is all set out as you wish…

She smiles and after taking off her coat, sits down and says how lovely it all looks and that I have recreated the scene well. I have the eye of a Miniaturist she says.  I blush and remember my days spent making miniature monks out of plasticine (I have no idea why I used to do this when I was young, they were just easy to make and I had a lot of brown clay hehe) but I won’t tell her that, it would kill the mood.

Hi Jessie, pick a cake , pink or purple…she takes the pink one and I start with the chat….

This must be one of the most magical blurbs on a book that I have ever read. What was it about that dollhouse in the Rijksmuseum that inspired you so much? and about the art of the Miniaturist?

The real dollhouse in the Rijksmuseum which inspired the story..
The real dollhouse in the Rijksmuseum which inspired the story..

It inspired me for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a very beautiful decorative object, that has to be seen to be believed. Secondly, the fact it was an exact replica of a real house filled with pieces from around the world, was so fascinating. To me it was a reflection of the society its owner lived in, and posed interesting questions about her motive behind commissioning it in the first place. The miniatures inside it are works of art!

Miniaturists were real artists. Which object in your house or life would you like a miniature of to treasure?

Good question! Mmm. I’d like a miniature of my cat because then at least I’d be able to control her and know where she actually is half the time…

Jessie's adorable cat! (c) Jessie Burton
Jessie’s adorable cat! (c) Jessie Burton

What kind of research did you do in Amsterdam? What are your connections to the city?

I had no connections before I went on holiday there in 2009. I read social history and recipe books. I studied maps and paintings, and I traced the physical city with my footsteps to get a sense of it. (I love that last bit – she is a real life miniaturist booktrailer!!!)

Petronella Oortman is  a real person so what were you careful to include in her story and what message did you want her to tell?

To be honest, I have altered the real Petronella’s autobiography. I have made her much younger than her husband for reasons of plot. I have also put her and her husband in a more expensive house, also for novelistic needs! I wanted Nella, as I think of her, to be the eyes and ears of the story. She comes to the city as an innocent, but full of spark and spirit that leads her on. She thinks she knows what is what. She doesn’t. That’s helpful as the writer, because you can insert ambiguity. She has to learn a lot of lessons about love and friendship, about betrayal and compromise.

Nella is happy that she is going up in the world thanks to Jessie. Could this Nella? (c) Wikipedia
Nella is happy that she is going up in the world thanks to Jessie. Could this beNella? (c) Wikipedia

Marin is another fascinating character. Was she based on anyone that you researched?

Not at all. She is a figment of my imagination. I did see one quite severe painting of a woman that reminded me of her, but actually Marin is softer in my mind than Nella takes her for.

The Golden Age in Amsterdam is a fascinating period of history. What interesting fact did you learn that you may not have included into the book?

Mmm. I think I crammed all the interesting things in that I could! I’m sure I must have jotted a few strange facts down that slipped through the net. 

Hopefully people will find them for themselves.

Jessie at the very door where Nella lives in Amsterdam! (c) Jessie Burton
Jessie at the very door where Nella lives in Amsterdam! (c) Jessie Burton

I read that an actual version of the house and figures was made before being photographed for the cover? Have you been allowed to keep it?

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This is true! A real Miniaturist made the front cover, which is quite extraordinary. I hope I get to keep it but that would be a long way off. We want as many people as possible to see it first.

I believe your next book is set in Spain this time. Can you tell us anything about it?

Well, it’s still in the impressionistic phase. Spain in 1937, London in 1967. A disgraced painter, a rebellious girl, one act of betrayal echoing on through time. Two women and a young man trying to find a foothold in a turbulent life.

Ooh perfect for another booktrail!

Thank you so much for stopping by today Jessie. What’s that you say? A gift? For me? I open the parcel she hands me slightly nervous that it will be another set of miniatures and wondering what challenge Jessie has set me this time…. but well it was a challenge but a different kind than what I had expected….

Oh! lovely. Not sure what they will make of them when I go to Tesco...
Oh! lovely. Not sure what they will make of them when I go to Tesco…

Reader, I have to wear these out, in public. So when you see me, I will be the wobbly one that cannot walk upright. I’m off to practice now…Here Jessie you take these cup cakes back with you. (I got two extra hehe) Here take them quick, I might drop the, not too steady on my feet.

And with that The Miniaturist lady gives me a hug ( or at least tries but I am suddenly seven foot tall in these things) and she is off

To deliver another parcel no doubt…

Cuppa and a cake with Lucy Atkins – author of The Missing One – Canada booktrail

The table is set - there's only one person missing...
The table is set – there’s only one person missing…

Booktrail towers has been a hub of activity today – so much so that the cake for the cuppa and a cake feature was not baked in time. So, I popped out to buy a nice posh one (well it’s a very special guest today) and I barely have time to take it out of the packaging (and hide it so I can claim I’ve had a Mary Berry moment) before the doorbell rings and the special guest is here!

The Mary Berry kinda cake the booktrail could not hope to recreate
The Mary Berry kinda cake the booktrail could not hope to recreate

I am so excited to meet her. She wrote the fantastic novel based in Canada and introduced me to the fascinating topic of Orca whales  –

Hi Lucy! Welcome to Book Trail Towers. Please come in. Your cuppa and cake awaits...
Hi Lucy! Welcome to Book Trail Towers. Please come in. Your cuppa and cake awaits…

Hi Lucy, now then, allow me to cut us both  large slice each of this cake. I’ve been slaving over the oven for hours, so I hope it tastes good ( hehe). Do you have milk in your tea? Right then, I have a few questions for you about your novel The Missing One – and I’d love to know what inspired such a story and such a setting!

1.I have read that it was a magazine article about the first woman to study killer whales in the wild (Alexandra Morton) that first planted the seeds of The Missing One. How did this develop into the novel?

I read an article about Alexandra Morton and was very taken with her strength and courage. I had this image of a woman on a boat with her toddler surrounded by killer whales, and so I started writing a short story. That became a long story and – many incarnations later – it turned into The Missing One.

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2. You have lived near the coast of Seattle and Vancouver. What do you miss most and which parts of the region would you recommend we visit to get a real feel for The Missing One?

I lived in Seattle for almost four years and my second child was born there. I still miss the landscape a lot – I think partly that writing the novel was an act of longing for what I’d left behind. I loved the combination of mountains and ocean; even in the heart of the city you feel you are on the brink of escape. I never lived in Canada, and only visited that area, but I happened to go there almost always in winter. I think that’s where all the fog and rainstorms in The Missing One came from. It feels remote and cut off when that fog closes in. Any of the islands you can get to on a ferry from Vancouver would give you a flavour of the novel…

Orca pod - southern residents. Image courtesy of Wikepedia
Orca pod – southern residents. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

3. The relationship between mother and daughter is a strong bond as we see both in your human characters and the whales themselves.  Do you think this strengthens the overall theme of a mother daughter bond? 

When I began the novel I knew absolutely nothing about orcas. As my writing progressed, I realized that what I was really writing about was motherhood and as I learned about orca societies – the strong bonds between a female orca and her calf, their powerful matriarchal culture, it was like a gift. It was all so relevant to my human themes. I also learned how horrifically we treat killer whales – ripping one year old calves from their mothers to take them to Sea Parks to be kept in small concrete boxes and gawped at. The idea of a mother’s loss, of longing for your child, of separation, is central to the novel, and this loss is seen over and over in the way we treat killer whales (Anyone interested in finding out more about this should see the film Blackfish).

Broughton archipelago where the book takes much of its inspiration from. Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Broughton archipelago where the book takes much of its inspiration from. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

4 Which islands, areas in particular did you research for your book? I realise SpringTide Island is not real although Salt Spring Island is, and there is a whale sightseeing company called SpringTide Tours. Were your place names inspired by something in particular?

Yes, Spring Tide island is completely fictional. The journey Kali takes from Vancouver is also fictional. I didn’t feel right making it a real place – I just wanted to take the feeling I had about that area and make it come alive, without worrying about actual geography or whether or not you could go by boat this way or that way. It was much more liberating to make it up. I did spend one Thanksgiving on Salt Spring Island and that was definitely in my mind when I wrote about Spring Tide – the fog particularly, and the name too. Isabella (the name of Susannah’s house) is my daughter’s name and my grandmother’s name, and my great-great grandmother’s name, going all the way back in our Scottish family. I just had to use it.  Raven is named that because it’s a bit ominous…

5. Would you like to have been a whale scientist living on a floathouse? I would after having read your book. It was as if I was there!

Fancy being stranded on an island with Susannah?
Fancy being stranded on an island with Susannah?

I am far too much of a comfort lover for that. I actually am totally unscientific and not particularly adventurous and I’d be far too wimpy to face the extremes of weather and discomfort that Elena, my whale expert, deals with.  But perhaps as a mother of three I do sometimes long for space and solitude – I expect that this was subconsciously coming out when I wrote about that tiny island. Having said this, I wouldn’t want to be trapped in any house, let alone a floating one in the middle of nowhere, with my character Susannah. Definitely not!

 6. You are on Raven Island with only four other writers living or dead for company over dinner. Who would you choose and why?

Charlotte would be a great dinner party guest!
Charlotte would be a great dinner party guest!

Charlotte Bronte, because she wrote my favourite novel, Jane Eyre, and I think she would be a great chatter; Ted Hughes because he’d talk beautifully about the wildlife (and was incredibly handsome), Chaucer, because he’d be a lot of fun and without any pomposity, and Jane Austen, just because I couldn’t possibly turn down the chance to meet her.

Well, talking of dinner, I’m still a bit hungry. Would you like another piece of my rose garland cake? Yes? Did I what sorry? Em, well no, I’ve got a confession to make – Mr Sainsbury did. He’s an old friend…

Thank you very much Lucy for stopping by. Your novel was really interesting on so many levels and I’m now reading a lot about orca whales and their treatment in captivity. The interweaving stories were very clever and thank you for taking me back to Vancouver and the surrounding islands! The book trail loved the journey combining reading and travelling is just the best!

I love it! It does get to the heart of the novel too – I think it’s an inspired way of reading. Thank you for having me on the Book Trail !

For more insights and information on The Missing One – http://www.lucyatkins.com/

And of course, if you want to travel to Canada and see the orcas jump out of the written page – http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Missing-One-Lucy-Atkins/dp/184866320X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391454180&sr=8-1&keywords=the+missing+one