Location is always very important to me when I’m writing. It’s almost as though it’s another character that requires just as much attention, just as much crafting, as any other. My first novel – The Runaway Bridesmaid – was set in New York. I enjoyed an amazing trip there a couple of years ago, for a milestone birthday, except, instead of spending five exhilarating days taking in the sights, because of Hurricane Sandy we ended up being there for eleven. Everywhere was closed, even the Broadway shows, so I grabbed a pen and some paper and started writing and my first published novel was born.
When I began researching my fourth book, I wanted my characters to have a fabulous backdrop for their story, so it had to be Cornwall. The scenery is so beautiful and diverse, not to mention the fact that the sun always seems to be shining. There’s Something About Cornwall follows Emilie Roberts, a food photographer, who takes a culinary road trip around the whole county as she works on a photoshoot for a celebrity TV chef working on her next cookery book.
Emilie’s epic journey starts in Padstow where she meets Matt at a beach party. He becomes a last-minute replacement driver for an orange-and-cream vintage campervan they’ve nicknamed The Satsuma Splittie. There’s plenty of stops along the way and lots of baking and tasting of the delicious Cornish food that is being photographed.
I wanted to showcase not only the local recipes, but also the wide array of artisan beverages that Cornwall is famous for. So, in Truro, they visit an apple orchard where Emilie photographs the Cornish Cyder Cake and Apple and Caramel Loaf, but they also indulge in a few pints of the local Scrumpy.
During my research, I was amazed to find that vineyards flourish on south-facing slopes and fabulous white and rosé wine is produced in Cornwall. The county is also the only place in England that grows tea – Tregothnan Tea – it offers a whole new meaning to the label English Breakfast tea!
I also came across the Southwestern Distillery, run by Tarquin Leadbetter, which produces not only Cornish Gin but also Cornish Pastis. The pastis is a modern take on the classic French aperitif and the first of its kind created in the UK. It is made with gorse flowers foraged from the Atlantic clifftops and fresh orange zest finished off with a touch of liquorice root. Tarquin also grows his own Devon violets for use in his Tarquin’s Gin.
I hope you enjoy escaping to our southernmost county when you join the culinary road trip in There’s Something About Cornwall.
For a chance to win a book on the history of the much-loved, iconic camper van, a mug and a coaster, just follow @daisyjamesbooks and retweet the pinned tweet. The prize will be drawn on 31st March 2017 (UK only).