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
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
Who doesn’t love The Great Gatsby. If yo’ve read it, and re-read it and fancy something dark, yet glamorous and set in the Hamptons, well why don’t you give this a try. I loved it. It was a big hit over in the States and deserves the same over here.
It kicks off in a party in a Long Island beach-house where socially ambitious Claire is attracted to charismatic host Harry. Cue infidelity and betrayal and a smart and sharp look at friendship, marriage and undying love.
Some nice pictures of the Hamptons to make you feel all summery!
I was lucky enough to speak at the inaugral Marie Claire Work Live event on Saturday. What a great day! Blow ltd were on hand to give speedy blow-dries, Benefit were there for make-overs, and I got a fantastic Balance Me goodie bag, which, by the way, are some of my favourite beauty products at the moment, being almost totally natural.
Best of all were the top tips from the all the dynamic women who were on stage to dish out some words of wisdom. Some things they said…
‘I think we’re ‘on’ too much of the time. We’re becoming a generation of parents who are just staring at screens. We need to think of new strategies to switch off.
‘Don’t be afraid of saying no. Know the power of your own brand. It is very easy to say ‘yes’ but you have to be selective.’ Susie Bubble.
‘Make a proper business plan. If you don’t know how your idea is going to make money, then it’s just a hobby.’ Claire Hopkins, co-founder, Balance Me
‘Set personal goals as well as business goals. Such as, in five years time, I want to be mortgage free.’ Sarah Curran, Very Exclusive
‘People say I was lucky. But 15 hour working days brought me that luck.’ Jack Monroe, A Girl Called Jack.
I knew it of course, but I hadn’t really stopped to think about the fact that I have written ten books.
So it was a lovely surprise to go to my publishers to discuss my new book The Last Kiss Goodbye and be welcomed with a box of Lola’s cupcakes especially customised to celebrate ten novels!
I can’t quite believe I’ve written ten books (that’s over a million words!) and I just want to thank all everyone who has ever bought a copy. It means so much, especially when you get in touch to say how much you enjoyed one.
I wish there were cupcakes to go all round – I’m going to have to think about one. Maybe I could have a cupcake party!
Here at am with my fabulous editor Sherise on the roof-top of my publisher’s new HQ. What a view.