I love the show Come Dine With Me; it’s the perfect accompaniment to tackling the ironing pile. I can chuckle away at over-powering guests and disasters in the kitchen and hardly even notice the mountain of shirts which need doing.
Novelicious have asked me to come up with my own literary edition, so I get to choose pick which authors I’d like to have round for dinner at my house.
My first guest is Julie Cohen. And of course where Julie goes, Lego Hannibal has to come too. Although I don’t think he eats much.
I haven’t read a book by Julie which I didn’t love and I have a review copy of The Day Of Second Chances packed in my suitcase to read on holiday. I would invite Julie for two reasons. Firstly because I need to know how she does it all; she is constantly teaching course for all sorts of writing organisations, leading writing retreats, attending literary festivals and she still manages to find time to write incredible books. When I’m in the middle of a first draft, I can barely leave the house let alone do any other type of work! Secondly because she is incredibly clever and I always learn something from Julie whenever I see her. Last time she told me all about using an Apple Mac to write with and which software I should get. When she comes over to dine with me, I shall have a long list of questions in my pocket and fire them at her between courses.
My second guest is Marian Keyes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I love this woman and her books. Her writing is so sharp and witty, her characters are unique and yet totally identifiable and she rarely breaks out in an adverb. She also has such a familiar voice that I can hear her soft Dublin accent reading the story to me in my head. But the real reason I’m inviting her to my Come Dine With Me is this: once your own night is out of the way, you get to visit your guests’ houses. Yes, I’ll be off to Marian’s house in Ireland, I’ll be rifling through her ‘farnishes’, checking out her banjoing skills and trying on all her ‘foncy’ shoes. If you don’t already follow Marian on twitter, you really should.
My lovely friend, Miranda Dickinson would be very welcome at my dinner table. In fact she’s welcome at my house anytime (especially if she brings baby daughter, Flo with her!) I first met Miranda a couple of years ago and am proud to call her a friend. She is one of the most kind and generous writers I have ever met and is a real champion of new authors. She runs ‘Write Foxy’ workshops several times a year for aspiring or beginner writers and I was lucky enough to go along to one last winter. I highly recommend them and she has some amazing guest speakers lined up for the next one. Her new book A Parcel For Anna Browne will be out soon and I’m hoping she’ll read us a passage from it over dinner.
And last but by no means least is the spectacular Lisa Dickenson. Lisa and I have never met in person because she lives in Devon and I live in Nottingham and although we’ve often been invited to the same events, we’ve never both managed to get there. Like me, Lisa has released her novels as ebook serials with paperbacks to follow. Her books are hilarious and she always manages to set them in glamorous locations like Italian vineyards and the Cannes film festival, while mine are in Derbyshire and Cumbria! Lisa brightens my day on a regular basis with her tweets; she is like my personal cheerleader and I’d love to spend an evening or too with her. Besides, I want to see her have too many glasses of vino and get up and do her Beyoncé dance…
So what will I be serving my esteemed guests? Now I must admit, I’m the sort of person who generally serves up some sort of one-pot dish so that I don’t have to slave over the hob while my guests are drumming their fingers on the table wondering when the food will arrive. But with such special company I’ll make a bit more effort. We’ll start with lobster imported from Maine which is where Julie is from. For main course we’ll have faggots and peas; a Black Country speciality in honour of Miranda, served with a mug of her favourite Yorkshire Tea. For pudding – well what else could I serve Marian but pink Magnums. And apart from the tea of course, I’ll be serving several bottles of Merlot for Lisa. And a merry old time will be had by all!
Who would you invite to your literary dinner party?
Appleby Farm by Cathy Bramley is out now.