Monday, 20 July 2020

Summer at Rachel's Pudding Pantry by Caroline Roberts

Today on the blog I am joined by author Caroline Roberts who is here to talk to us about her new book Summer at Rachel's Pudding Pantry.

Hi Rea, and thank you so much for having me here on your blog.

Q1 Summer at Rachel's Pudding Pantry is book three in the series and personally my favourite cover of yours. Do you have a favourite cover and do you have much input into the design?

I do love this cover too - the design is so summery and pretty, and it really captures the joyful feel of this book with all its countryside wedding detail.

My other favourite cover would be The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop, with its baubles, chocolates and cakes, and the gorgeous pink foil detail that catches the light. It looks so Christmassy and takes you right into the cosy festive shop.

I do have the chance to comment on my book covers, and I am always sent a preview draft, but I have to say my publishers and the cover designers do such a great job, and have far more insight into what is currently appealing to readers, that I haven’t had to ask them to alter much at all.

Q2 If Summer at Rachel's Pudding Pantry was made into a film who could you see playing your lead roles?

Hmm, interesting question, Rea. I often get an idea of my main characters’ appearance from either someone famous or someone who I know of locally – though I’d never tell them! Rachel is mid-twenties, with brunette wavy hair, and is very down to earth … so I’m thinking Jennifer Lawrence but with her hair dark, and her calm and determined strength of character, as she was in The Hunger Games. A great actor for Tom would be Aiden Turner, aka Ross Poldark, (so if you’re free, Aiden …?) and if he was busy, then Kit Harrington would make a very pleasant alternative too.

Q3 Did you do any particular research for this novel?

As the story and the series is set on a working sheep farm in Northumberland (which also has a small herd of cattle), I did some research into farming which I really enjoyed. Primrose Farm in the book is run by the women of the family, so I wanted to find out about the role and experiences of women in farming in particular. Fortunately, I have some good friends who let me pick their brains – a big thank you goes to Helen Renner and Jane Ord – who I chatted with over coffee in their farmhouse kitchens, as well as looking around their farms and meeting some of the animals. There were also several last-minute texts bandied about, asking for clarification on farming facts in emergency editing situations!
I really loved being hands on out on the farm, and I so enjoyed holding and feeding a very cute pet lamb at Chatton Park Farm – who inspired the storyline about Maisy’s favourite little lamb, Petie!

It was also lovely to immerse myself in the wedding detail, and I looked at wedding magazines, chatted with friends who’d had countryside weddings recently and recalled lots of the detail from my daughter’s wedding which was three years ago. That was such a lovely time. It’s such a shame that so many weddings this summer have had to be cancelled due to the lockdown.

Q4 Can you tell us a little about what you are working on next, are we to see a return to the Pudding Pantry?

I’m having a short break right now, as I found writing two books a year over the past three years as well as working for our company and family commitments was getting difficult, but I have lots of ideas that I’m jotting down and developing ideas on before I finally decide what to write next. There will definitely be a new book next year, it will be something brand new with a fresh setting and characters, so watch this space.

Q5 How has lockdown effected your writing and reading habits?

Lockdown has been a very difficult time for many people and I am mindful of that, but I have to say for me it’s given me chance to slow down and take stock. I was editing ‘Summer at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry’ during early lockdown which kept me busy, but since then I have had time to read more which has been lovely. My favourite lockdown books were ‘A Hundred Pieces of Me’ by Lucy Dillon - it explores our relationships and what's important in life, ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo’, Christy Lefteri – thought-provoking and at times disturbing but so engaging and ‘The Man Who Didn’t Call’ by Rosie Walsh – so romantic and a page-turner. It was wonderful to sit in the garden in the sunshine and escape with a good book.

Q6 What have been your top three books of the year so far?

‘The Giver of Stars’ by Jo-Jo Moyes - I loved the feisty women characters and the storyline of the horseback librarians and their often-difficult lives in Kentucky, America, in the 1930s. I found it fascinating and could easily picture the dramatic scenery and the small-town setting. I love all of Jo-Jo Moyes' books; they are so varied, and she's such a great storyteller. ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris - so moving and humbling, yet the story still managed to hold hope, and my lockdown read ‘The Man Who Didn’t Call’, Rosie Walsh. I’d highly recommend them all.

Thank you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to come and talk so us Caroline, I am looking forward to delving into this one as I am sure many of the followers are too. Summer at Rachel's Pudding Pantry is available to buy on kindle or paperback from the 23rd July, be sure to leave a comment letting us know your thoughts on this book once you have read it.

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