Hello Romantic Times delegates. I hope you are having a fantastic time in Vegas!
If you are on this page you’ve got my flyer about winning the fabulous Longchamps Le Pliage bag. It’s such a cool and eternally stylish bag – no wonder Le Pliage has been seen on the arms of both Kate Moss and Kate Middleton.
To enter the prize draw simply sign up to my mailing list between Wednesday 12th April (noon PST) and Monday 16th April (noon PST).
The winner will be selected at random from new joiners to the mailing list between these dates.
This prize draw is only open to Romantic Times 2016 delegates who sign up to my mailing list between the competition dates. (Don’t worry, non RT delegates – there will be plenty of giveaways and competitions to come!)
You may be required to show proof that you have attended the RT convention 2016
Thank you and GOOD LUCK!
The bag is the orange Le Pliage medium handbag
All new joiners to the VIP mailing list will also receive a free copy of my new novelette ‘Beautiful Strangers’ when it is released on May 1st.
SIGN UP HERE
Everyone remembers their first kiss. But what about the last?
1961. Journalist Rosamund Bailey is ready to change the world. When she meets explorer and man about town Dominic Blake, she realises she has found the love of her life. Just as happiness is in their grasp, the worse happens and their future is snatched away.
2014. Deep in the vaults of a museum, Abby Gordon stumbles upon a breathtaking find. A faded photograph of a man saying goodbye to the woman he loves. Looking for a way to escape her own heartache, Abby becomes obsessed with the story, little realising that behind the image frozen in time lies a secret altogether more extraordinary.
‘Impressive Stuff’ – Glamour magazine
The inspiration for The Last Kiss Goodbye
The idea for the Last Kiss Goodbye came about when I visited an exhibition to celebrate the first ascent of Everest, put on by the Royal Geographical Society. Every photo on show was amazing, but I particularly loved the image of Sherpa Tensing reaching the summit– I thought it was such an potent symbol of human endeavour and courage.
My husband bought me the photograph for my birthday and we went to pick it up from the RGS. We were allowed to visit the archives, which was a treasure trove of artefacts and photographs. The pictures were so powerful – people going to the jungle, into the desert, up mountains – so many of them risking their lives in the name of discovery and adventure and it got me wondering about the people they left behind – family and lovers who could not be certain whether they would ever see their loved ones again.
I imagined one such image and the basis of the novel was formed.
When I was thinking about the era in which the book was to be based, I knew that I didn’t want to go too far back in time, but it had to be a period when territories were still unchartered and unknown. I chose the early 1960’s because of the intriguing and dangerous backdrop of the Cold War. It meant that my hero Dominic could be suave, rakish and James Bondish!
UK READERS – CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BOOK
US READERS – CLICK HERE TO BUY THE BOOK
So I had a brilliant time at the RWA convention in New York. I met a lot of great authors and heard lots of fantastic talks – it was such a good melting pot of shared ideas and information.
It was particularly interesting to hear Nora Roberts’ thoughts on productivity. Not only is Nora one of the most successful authors in the world – she is one of the most prolific, having written over 200 novels. How does she do it? Here’s how….
‘People often ask me how do I write so much. You know what? I just don’t make excuses. I just write. I don’t wait for the ‘muse’ – there is no f***ing muse. Plus, I have rules. My kids are grown up now, but when they were younger they knew not to interrupt me when I was working. I’d say, ‘you wouldn’t disturb me if I worked in an office.’
I don’t have a daily word count. I write on a Word Perfect document so I can’t tell. I write three drafts of a novel. I vomit out the first one, make changes in the second and polish the third. I write the things I want to read. You can’t write to please the reader, because reader A is different to reader B – and who is right? Maybe they both are. That’s why it’s so important to write for myself.
I write for 6- to 8 hours a day and that’s a lot of sitting around so I find it’s really important to work out. I work out for 60-90 minutes a day; yoga, pilates, cardio – that way I can treat myself to a glass of wine after writing!’
I’d decided on the location for my new novel, before I’d even visited it. Savannah, Georgia, is a city I have been fascinated every since I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, (which I had to re-read before I set off!) Not only is it America’s most haunted city – it’s also one of its most most romantic places – all that Spanish Moss hanging off the trees, and the hot, sultry summers made it feel perfect for a Tasmina Perry novel.
It was no surprise that Savannah was every bit as beautiful as I’d imagine – the fountain in Forsyth Park, the leafy squares, and the old fashioned trolley buses are just a few of the things that make the city magical. Love it? I could totally move to Georgia.
The real purpose for the trip was to find inspiration for the main setting of the novel – an old plantation house by a lake. I stumbled across Wormsloe which was beautiful – with one of the most impressive driveways I have ever seen – almost a mile long and fringed on either side by enormous live old trees. The actual house at Wormsloe doesn’t exist anymore but I visited the amazing Boone Hall plantation in Charleston, which was so picture perfect, I found out I had been used in the film The Notebook.
Tasmina’s new novel The House on Sunset Lake, set in Georgia is out summer 2016
Five places to go in Savannah
The Marshall House hotel.
This atmospheric (and supposedly haunted!) hotel is one of the best places to stay in town – pick up your free iced lemonade from the lobby before strolling down Broughton Street
This Savannah institution is apparently one of the top ten ice-cream parlours in the world. I kept going back for the delicious lemon curd ice-cream.
The Lucas Cinema
How can you not love a movie theatre that puts on a Crazy for Swayze weekend (I went to see Dirty Dancing)
The Paris Market
My new favourite shop – a bustling, beautifully curated honey-pot (think chic interiors and a million and one things you don’t need, but really, really want) on Broughton Street
There are 22 beautiful town squares in Savannah’s historic district but Chippewa is my favourite if only for its starring role in Forrest Gump
Summer feels as if it has well and truly arrived this week. Not only have I have been to Wimbledon (I got tickets in the ballot for the very first time!) I’ve spent a few days in St Ives, one of my favourite places in the world. Here’s some things I’ve enjoyed….
Breakfast by the beach. The view! The granola! Thoroughly recommend you check out the West Beach Bakery if you’re in the area.
Chocolarder chocolate. I’ve noticed lots of ‘small batch bean to bar’ chocolate recently. But this is one of the best. I couldn’t resist the Wild Gorse flavour – and didn’t even realise Wild Gorse tasted of coconut!
The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett. My holiday read. Think a more historical version of One Day. It gets a bit confusing in places, jumping between the three different versions of a love story, and although (for me,) it’s not as good as David Nicholls bestseller or Kate Atkinson’s similar Life After Life, it’s still impossible not to get swept away by this moving story of what ifs.
Celebrating my brilliant sister’s new job (she’s the new editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine) at Wimbledon. With Pimms.
Toasting our 11th wedding anniversary in St Ives.
Can we talk about The Season for a minute, a concept that first came to my attention when I got hold of a copy of the
Sloane Rangers handbook back in the Eighties. How I loved that book. For a teenager growing up in Manchester it seemed incredibly exotic and glamorous, even though when I finally got to London, I realised that a world of penny loafers and red cords wasn’t really what I aspired to at all.
Of course Sloanes don’t really exist anymore. Wealthy Chelsea girls are more likely to be reality TV stars these days rather than Montessori teachers and you’ll find the Hooray Henry’s with a beard living in Hoxton. But the Season still exists and over the the past couple of weeks I’ve popped along to the polo, sipped Pimms at Wimbledon and enjoyed the gardens at the Hampton Court Flower Show (less busy than Chelsea) and decided it’s the best of British distilled down for a more democratic age.
I wrote about the Season in my novel The Proposal and even as recently as the Fifties it was still something very much reserved for members of the social elite. But hop onto Debrett’s website and you’ll find everything from the Boat Race and Bestival to Whiststable Oyster Festival and the Secret Garden Party showing that there’s something in the modern Season for everything taste and price-point.
The Summer Exhibition.
Not only can you visit the RA’s summer exhibition you can go in for it. The deadline for submissions is February
I got tickets in the ballot for the first time this year. Get your application form from the AELTC and apply by December.
Verve Cliquot Gold Cup Polo
Such a democratic event – we once actually sat behind Prince Harry in the stands.
You don’t have to sail, just grab a pint and watch the sight of dozen of boats carve through the Solent
Do you keep a diary? I used to. I found a box of them under the bed (!) and hours slipped by as I read my thoughts and tales of adventure from 1995 to 2000. They stopped around the time I met my husband. Perhaps falling in love made me a little less introspective – I don’t know. Anyway – I thought I’d start a week in view. Mostly it’s to share some good stuff that I’ve enjoyed, but I think a little bit of is to get back to my old journal loving self. After all – there’s no better way to remember the minutiae of our lives.
Wimbledon Fair – at the start of Wimbledon week! The sun was shining, we won a salad bowl on the tombola, the whole village was buzzing with tennis players in the streets and every shop and cafe is getting into the swing of it with tennis ball window displays and green and purple flags hanging from almost every roof.
Qcumber water. I don’t drink very much, so wine o’clock sort of passes me by. But sometimes it’s nice to have a cold glass of something really refreshing on a balmy evening and sparkling water and diet coke can sometimes get a bit boring – so it was great to discover Qcumber. It’s light and fizzy and a tiny bit Pimmsy. Try it.
Manning the face-painting stall at the school fair – I was chuffed with my Spider-man art work!
My friends Chris and Ian’s Open Garden afternoon, part of the Bedford Park Festival. I love the idea of Open Gardens. They create such great community sprit and I love seeing the glorious gardens hidden behind unassuming walls.
Discovering perfect tee-shirt dresses in Gap
Seeing my son Fin in his production of Oliver (and being very proud of his cockney accent!)
Hearing Nick Hornby in conversation
Creating a micro-restaurant in our garden (moving the table and chairs into the sun) and have a lunch date with my husband.
Being a big kid and going on the Umbrella ride at the fun-fair
Seeing my new web-site finally up and running!
To see Nick Hornby last night in conversation, who was as smart and funny as you’d hope. He has the dream career as far as I’m concerned – a super successful novelist, an Oscar-nominated screen writer and the co-founder of a really brilliant place in Hoxton called The Ministry of Stories, which helps young people get fired up about creating writing.
I always love hearing about how other authors write and Nick had some great advice, which was a more articulate rift on the ‘write what you know.’
‘Be specific about your sense of place. That way, even people on the other side of the world can identify it as their place.
I mean, when John Cusack and his two screenwriter friends got in touch about making High Fidelity into a movie they said to me, “this is a book about us. A bit later, in a different location and with a different soundtrack, but this is us.”
You have to be authentic about your place, as that way, it will resonate with others.
If you are writing about ‘another place,’ you can lose your authenticity.’
For sale at the Ministry of Stories: Monster themed paraphernalia! Go check it out.
If you read my recent feature in Red magazine you’ll know that I love going on courses.
After all, why should we stop learning just because we’ve finished school?
One fantastic course I went on this year was a truffle making course at William Curley, who is one of London’s great chocolatiers.
The course wasn’t cheap, but we came home with a huge box of truffles which would have cost at least £20 if you’d have bought them in his Belgravia store.
The truffles themselves…wow. Here’s the recipe in case you wanted a try at home
160g 70% chocolate
145g whipping cream
25g soft unsalted butter
250g tempered chocolate
150g cocoa powder
Bring cream to boil
Chop up the chocolate and add to cream, stirring until it is a smooth emulsion
Add soft butter. Mix.
Pipe your ganache onto your greaseproof tray
Leave to set – ideally in a fridge for at least 30 minutes
Temper your additional chocolate (this is quite complicated but you should find good instructions on the internet)
Coat each truffle in this liquid tempered chocolate
Roll in cocoa and sieve excess cocoa