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Meet…Carol Prisant!

THE SOCIETY OF MSK HOSTS:The Opening Night of the International ShowUS author Carol Prisant is the author of Catch 26, a contemporary novel about housewife Frannie Turner and the day she wakes up to find herself back in the body of her 26-year-old self.

Here Carol tells us a little bit more about herself (she’s awesome, trust us!)…

Name:  Carol Prisant

Place  of birth:  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

Title of Novel:  Catch 26

Bio:  b  I’m a widow with one son (an art appraiser in NY) and one perfect granddaughter (a budding equestrienne.) I’m also a former antiques dealer and, for the last 26 years, I’ve been the New York editor of the UK mag The World Of Interiors.

I’ve published four non-fiction books:  The Antiques Roadshow Primer (a New York Times best-seller) and Antiques Roadshow Collectibles, a companion volume to the above.  (Basically, the books are encyclopedias of antiques combined with the occasional anecdote from the US Roadshow.)  Good, Better, Best (The connoisseurship of antiques) and Dog House (Written as a chronology of all the dogs of my life but, somehow, an inadvertent memoir.  Curiously, a number of young women readers used it for their bookclubs, where it seemed to have an alternate life as a template for how to maintain a 42-year marriage.)

Website: carolprisant.com

First job:  At 17, I worked in the stacks, shelving books, in Pittsburgh’s public library.  Sorry to say, I stole quite a few.

Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?  Yes, I’ve always wanted to be an author.  In my generation, however, one had to do housewife-and-mother bootcamp first.  (Except for Sylvia Plath, who washed out.)

When did you realise your potential as a writer? I won an important poetry prize in college, and on that basis, was admitted to a small poetry seminar taught by American poet, Robert Lowell.  Ann Sexton was in that seminar as well, and relentlessly flirted with Lowell.

What is the best advice anyone has given you about writing? Don’t just wait around for the Muse, start throwing the shit at the paper.

What are your top ten favourite books? My favorite book of all time is Moby Dick, although I find it difficult to re-read now that the world’s become so sensitized to whales.

My next 21 favorite books are Patrick O’Brian’s series about the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars.  Fact is, I utterly hate to sail and get seasick at the mooring, but I worship O’Brian’s intellect.  He’s one of the finest writers I know, a Mozart of words.

As is Nabokov, of course, whose every sentence crackles with genius.  Like Ginger Rogers, who “did it all backwards, and in heels,’ Nabokov is writing his novels in English, his (second, third, fourth?) language.  I’ve read them all.

Hilary Mantel is right up there on this list.  She has a firecracker mind, and I have my credit card ready for The Mirror and The Light.

So is Edward St. Aubyn.  His masterly metaphors kept me turning the pages of his devastating and terrible-to-read books, despite the fact that – these days – confessionals about child abuse and drug use are such a commonplace.

Finally, I have to include John Banville, David Mitchell, Barry Unsworth, and James Joyce. . . not particularly in that order

 What are your top three romantic books and why? My top three romantic books?  Oh god, I’m so boring. Not to mention antique.  Every one of my favorites is nonrealistic, impassioned, heavily costumed and heart-rending.  Which means that none has a sex scene.

Think, Anna Karenina, Eugene Onegin (Oh, those Russians!) The Great Gatsby, Jane Eyre, A Tale of Two Cities and  Scaramouche.  They all include swords or pistols and have all been made into movies.  Several times.

 What are your top three romantic movie/TV kisses and why? Favorite kisses? Where to begin?  How about an incredibly sexy one, like Burt Lancaster’s and Deborah Kerr’s famous kiss in the pounding surf on the beach in From Here to Eternity?

Or the bittersweet kiss in Superman II, when the power of Supe’s kiss erases Lois Lane’s memories of their love?

Dying kisses get to me, too.  Like the kisses at the end of Matrix Revolution and Love Story.  

And I was stunned and disturbed by the Godfather II kiss between Al Pacino and John Cazale:  “It was you, Fredo.  You broke my heart.”

Yet the kisses I like best are truly hard-won.

So the best kiss of all time has to be the “passionate and pure” kiss at the end of The Princess Bride.

If you could ride off into the sunset with a fictional character, who would you choose and why? Who would I ride into the sunset with? Sherlock Holmes, I think. Although (not necessarily) in the person of Benedict Cumberbatch.  The sex would be terrible, of course, but then that’s hardly my priority anymore.  In Sherlock’s favor, I would never be bored. Also, I don’t think S.H. ever works out (like me), doesn’t eat kale (like me), and he smokes a pipe.  I do like a pipe.

 

 

Catch 26 is available now: http://amzn.to/29LKbGn.

Welcome to Los Angeles by Nancy Holland

My new book, Found: One Secret Baby, takes place in my hometown, Los Angeles, California. When most people hear the words “Los Angeles,” they think of this –

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What’s romantic about that?

Well, for one thing, you have to know that L. A. is the home of movieland romance magic…

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But for a busy single mom/attorney like my heroine, Rosalie Walker, and other people who live normal lives in quiet neighborhoods, L. A. is simply home.

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In fact, one of the many things Rosalie likes about Morgan Danby is that he appreciates all the city has to offer (even though he lives in Boston). If their romance had gone more smoothly, he might have taken her for a walk on one of L. A.’s many lovely beaches.

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Or, since they both were raised with classical music (for very different reasons), he might have taken her to a performance of the Los Angeles Symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L. A.

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Since Rosalie’s mother was a painter, he might have taken her to the fabulous Getty Museum.

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But if their romance had gone smoothly, I wouldn’t have had a story to write. Instead, the conflict between Morgan’s possibly misplaced sense of duty to his family and Rosalie’s refusal to give up the life she’s built for herself and her foster son barely leaves Morgan time to take her to a romantic dinner on the beach at Malibu.

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And to his penthouse, which has a view of the city…

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Still, what could be more romantic or — as Rosalie learns — more seductive than that?

Order your copy of Found: One Secret Baby here.

Meet Roland Moore

Roland Moore is an award-winning series creator and scriptwriter who works in a wide range of genres for film and television in the UK, America, and China. We’re so excited to welcome him to the HaperImpulse team and work together to bring his brilliant series (and personal favourite of ours) Land Girls to the page.

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1. Name

Roland Moore

2. Place of birth
Redhill, Surrey.

3. What was your first ever job?
I worked Saturdays in a supermarket on produce for a bit. It was great fun until the day I found put my hand in a banana box and found a live Tarantula. The spider ran away and hid in a crack in the warehouse. Worryingly we never found it. Now I try to avoid jobs that involve live Tarantulas.

4. Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to write – and always written. Writing consumed all my spare time whenever it could. In fact, in my first ever interview – for a job in a pensions company – I was asked the standard question of “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” to which I replied “Writing for TV”. It wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get the job!

5. What inspired you to start writing?
As a child, I happened to watch some re-runs of episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and I loved the idea of a short story set up so that it had a massive twist at the end. So I started writing my own Twilight Zone episodes as prose in an old accounts ledger book (I think it was all that I had to hand). My Nan – the avid reader – would read them, so I felt I had an audience for my work. From there, I started writing comics for my friends and eventually a full-length horror novel. And then more TV.

6.When did you realise your potential as a writer?
Showing my early stories to my Nan and getting her honest feedback about what worked and what didn’t was a massive step forward for me. I think your potential is something that grows and changes with each new piece of writing – and I view the whole process of writing as a learning experience, trying to improve as a story teller with each new project. Anyone who thinks they have nothing else to learn is misguided in my opinion.

7.What was the inspiration for your novel?
Land Girls was inspired by one image – a photograph showing two elderly ladies in their seventies trying to look over a high brick wall. One was standing on the other’s wheelchair to try to see. Beyond the wall were the rectory grounds where they had been billeted as Land Girls during the war – and they’d gone back years and years later, one final time, to see it.
It was this image showing both indomitable spirit and nostalgia that started me on the course of creating the TV series and now the novels.

8.What is the best advice anyone has given you about writing?
Don’t worry about making mistakes as you only have to show the writing to other people when you’re happy with it. If you believe that the process of writing a first draft is for your benefit only, then it will really take the pressure off.

9. Aside from writing, what is your favourite thing to do?
I love country walks, reading, cinema and theatre. I would watch films all the time if I could!

10.What are your top ten favourite books? 
Not all my favourites and not ten, because that’s an ever-changing list, but these ones have left an impression for one reason or another:
Things We Have In Common by Tasha Kavanagh. A creepy and twisting tale of obsession told by an unreliable narrator.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. It’s a classic – obviously – what more can I add?
The Magic Cottage by James Herbert. One of the first books I read that had a genuine gasp-out-loud twist in it. Before this, I didn’t know that twists could be so effective in written form.
Misery by Stephen King. A beautifully tense two-hander and it’s about a writer too, which gives added interest.
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. I liked how this took the diary form and gave it a fresh twist for a new audience.
Till We Meet Again by Judith Krantz. The first time I’d read an epic saga novel – and it covered a huge time period in three women’s lives so it was interesting to see how that all developed and played out.
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. I love how this book sets up two stories and interweaves them, until you’re desperate for the characters to meet – and then the meeting is so cursory and thrown away so brilliantly.

11. If you could ride off into the sunset with a fictional character, who would you choose and why?
This isn’t going to cause any problems at home (!) I think Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair would keep me on my toes.

 

The Boy and the Bridesmaid by Katey Lovell

It’s a nice day for a white wedding…at least, it will be on Thursday when the final Meet Cute book The Boy and the Bridesmaid starts landing on ereaders.

I’ve always been a sucker for a wedding.  There’s something about seeing two people committing to each other in front of their loved ones that touches my romantic heart.  In all honesty, I’m just as easily swayed by fictional weddings, which is why my guest post today is all about my favourite weddings in books, film and television.

jason-donovan-kylie-minogueLike many people my age, one of the first television weddings that had me swooning was Scott and Charlene’s.  I loved everything about their big day, from the bride’s over-the-top lacy dress to the groom’s mullet and especially ‘Suddenly’, the Angry Anderson song which captured the heart of everyone watching.  I had it on a mix tape and listened to it on my Walkman over and over!

So many of my favourite romance books are either out-and-out wedding themes (Always the Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk and Erin Lawless’ new Bridesmaids series, to name but two) or have a wedding in them somewhere so it’s been impossibly hard to pick just one.  However, I’ve decided to plump for Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café by Rebecca Raisin because Lil and Damon were the loveliest couple and I was willing them on as they planned their big day.  It was a fabulous end to the trilogy and a perfect wedding-themed read.

I’ve also got to mention the wedding scene in Love Actually, when Peter and Juliet are startled by the surprise rendition of ‘All You Need is Love’.  It’s so beautifully romantic and the look of absolute joy on their faces can’t help but make me smile (and cry).  It was also a bit of an inspiration for me when writing The Boy and the Bridesmaid, as this final short story brings all the other Meet Cute couples together, much like in Love Actually where it’s revealed how everyone is interlinked.

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I’m excited to hear how readers react to the first Meet Cute wedding – get your hats ready!

The Boy and the Bridesmaid is released on Thursday and available to preorder now.

Lemon & Lime Ginger Lovely and Dorset Apple Cake from the Hive Beach Cafe, Dorset

The Comfort Food Cafe in Debbie Johnson’s new summer romance is entirely fictional – but we would love to go there! As well as the fab location and delicious food, Debbie wanted to create a place where people felt safe and valued and content. A place where everybody knows your name, just like they used to in Cheers!

And while Cherie’s cafe might be made up, the Hive Beach Cafe in Dorset is gorgeously real. It overlooks the beautiful beach at Burton Bradstock, one of the prettiest places on the Jurassic Coast, and has stunning views out across Lyme Bay.

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Its location is idyllic, and so is its food. The cafe specialises in fresh fish and seafood, which is sourced locally using sustainable methods, and cooked simply and well. The cafe also has a reputation for friendly and welcoming service, and its creative team in the kitchen.

Now in their 25th year, they’ve produced two cookery books, and have also kindly agreed to share a few of their recipes here with us as well. These are taken from the Hive Beach Cafe Family Cookbook (£16.99, Bristlebird Books). If these tingle your tastebuds, you can find out more at http://www.hivebeachcafe.co.uk/, or follow them on Twitter @HiveBeachCafe.

Lemon and Lime Ginger Lovely

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Serves 8-10

This is an impressive, refreshing dessert that is super-quick to make. The sharpness of the citrus fruit offsets perfectly the rich combination of double cream and condensed milk. Crushed ginger biscuits make a delicious spicy-sweet base. Don’t forget to get the kids involved in crushing them. Wrap them in a tea-towel and bash them with a rolling pin. They’ll have never had so much fun in the kitchen.

Ingredients

250g ginger biscuits, crushed

115g melted butter

300ml double cream

170g condensed milk

3 lemons, juiced

2 limes, juiced

Combine the ginger biscuits with the melted butter in a bowl and mix. Spoon half of the biscuit mixture into serving glasses and set aside.

Whisk the double cream until it has the consistency of custard. Pour in the condensed milk and whisk again, slowly adding the lemon and lime juice until the mixture if thick and creamy.

Spoon the mixture into the serving glasses and scatter the remaining ginger biscuits over the top. Chill in the fridge for an hour or so until you are ready to serve.

 

Dorset Apple Cake

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Serves 4

There is no definitive recipe for Dorset Apple Cake. It’s one of those dishes that provokes fierce arguments between villages throughout the county, as everyone seems to believe that their way is the only way. The constant in all, of course, is wonderful local apples, baked with butter and sugar to produce a deliciously sticky cake that goes perfectly with Dorset clotted cream. Cut yours into generous slices before serving and make a big pot of tea to sit alongside it on the table.

Ingredients

285g softened butter, plus extra for greasing

6 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1cm pieces

1 lemon, juiced

345g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

2 tsp cinnamon

4 large eggs

450g self-raising flour

Milk

2tbsp Demerara sugar

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F

Take a deep, 30cm cake tin and grease the inside with butter. Line with greaseproof paper and set aside.

Place the apple pieces in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice. Set aside.

Cream the butter, cinnamon and caster sugar together in a bowl with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at time, and whisk in a little of the flour after each egg to keep the mixture smooth. Pour in a little milk to thin it if the consistency becomes too thick.

Drain the apple pieces and stir them into the mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, gently level the top and sprinkle with the Demerara sugar.

Bake the cake in the oven for one hour or until it has risen and browned on the top (if the cake is getting too brown, you can cover it with a sheet of greaseproof paper after 45 minutes or so). The cake is cooked when you insert a skewer into the middle and it comes out clean.

Not got your copy of Debbie’s book yet? Order here: http://bit.ly/1SgJUhF

Photo credits: colin@vertiworks

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