I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get Caroline on the blog for an interview, but we’re finally here and I am so excited about it!! For day one of #blogmas #bookmas, I published my book review for Caroline’s latest release, ‘Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry‘ and because I loved it that much, I thought to myself, “why not take this opportunity to get Caroline on for an interview?”. Well, as you can probably imagine, I was so thrilled when Caroline said yes to having an interview, in which we talk about ‘Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry‘ and all things Christmas!
So, without further ado, let’s get in to our interview:
Welcome to BreakfastAtShelbys, I’m so honoured to have you on here! Why don’t we kick start this interview off with you telling us a bit about yourself?
Hello Shelby, and thank you for having me! I live in the beautiful county of Northumberland, in a village near the Cheviot Hills. I enjoy writing heart-warming contemporary fiction about love, life, friends and family. I love cooking, eating out with friends, a cheeky glass of bubbly, reading (of course!), and going for walks in our gorgeous countryside and on the beach with my husband and our lively cocker spaniel, Jarvis.
‘Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry’ is your latest release, which I absolutely loved and is my favourite Christmas book this year! Congratulations! Can you tell my readers – who may not have had the opportunity to hear about it yet – what it’s about?
Thank you – it’s lovely to hear that ‘Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry’ is your favourite Christmas book this year. This book is the fabulously festive second instalment about life at Primrose Farm. The feisty Swinton ladies have to overcome huge challenges after the death of Rachel’s father; trying to hold the farm together whilst turning their love of baking into a new venture with The Pudding Pantry tearooms and its Pudding Club. There’s also a wonderful love story that develops between Rachel and Tom, the neighbouring farmer, which doesn’t always run smoothly.
Was there a particular scene you loved writing the most? I definitely had a giggle over the school Nativity Play!
Hah, yes, I really enjoyed writing that scene for naughty yet adorable Petie the sheep. I also liked writing the scenes where Granny Ruth and Rachel have their heart-to-hearts. It feels so cosy when Rachel goes to visit Ruth’s cottage – a place for a cup of tea, slice of something sweet and the chance for an honest conversation and some sound advice.
Which of your 12 bakes of Christmas recipes would you recommend my lovely readers try this Christmas?
There are lots of scrumptious and easy recipes in the book to try. I think my favourite is the Christmas Tree biscuits. They are simple to bake, but put together make a real festive showstopper! And if you don’t mind a bit of mess with lots of icing and sprinkles, this is ideal to decorate along with any younger family members.
There were some heart-breaking scenes in regards to how winter can really affect farmers and their livestock. How did you go about researching these aspects of working on a farm?
I interviewed two farming families whilst writing the Pudding Pantry books, and I particularly wanted to find out what it was like for livestock farmers in these recent snowy winters. I knew of the terrible blizzard conditions during the ‘Beast from the East’ which adversely affected many of our farmers in the North. I also did some extra research online on the techniques used to try and locate sheep buried in snow drifts. Although farming can be a good way of life, and at times country life can seem idyllic, I wanted to show the harsh realities farmer have to face too.
How do you get yourself in to the festive spirit whilst writing out of season?
Much of this book was written during the summer months. It’s sometimes hard to get in the festive mood when outside it’s warm and sunny, so I often have images on my writing desk of Christmas inspirations that I’ve cut out from winter magazines. I make notes early on when I’m preparing the plots for my novels and take photos of local scenery to remind me exactly how it looks say in the snows or frost. I google Christmassy things, I’ve baked mince pies in August and tested out the recipes, and I have even asked readers to send me their festive pictures on my Facebook page.
What is the typical Christmas Day routine for you and your family?
We open our Christmas stockings first thing. (Yes, even my grown-up children still have stockings!) Then we have a breakfast of fresh fruit, yoghurt and cheese and ham croissants, with a cheeky glass of buck’s fizz. I’ll be busy getting dinner preparations underway for a traditional turkey meal with all the trimmings. We’ll open our family gifts, and walk to the village pub to wish all our friends a Merry Christmas (whilst hoping I’ve not burnt the turkey!) and head back home around 2pm for a family feast. I’ll be having eleven here for dinner this year, including my new grandson – so that’ll be very special.
What are your favourite traditions that you and your family like to partake in on Christmas Day?
We always have a real pine Christmas tree and I love seeing all the lights and decorations twinkling and the presents laid out under there, ready for the family to open. The Christmas stockings are also a big part of our early morning traditions. On the dinner table we’ll have Christmas crackers, festive flowers and a bottle of champagne is a lovely treat. Later on, after all the hectic cooking, it’s lovely just to chill out and watch a film together as a family.
What are your favourite foods to make on Christmas Day?
Baked croissants filled with ham and cheese for breakfast. The traditional full turkey roast, with crispy roast potatoes, lots of fresh veg and pigs in blankets. Pudding-wise, I like something like a pavlova with raspberries and cream.
What would you say is your go-to Christmas song and movie during the holidays?
Christmas song – I do like traditional Christmas carols and Silent Night is one of my favourites.
Movie – something funny like Elf for the family to watch together, or the gorgeous ‘The Snowman’.
Do you have anything in particular on your wish-list this year for Christmas?
Just having the family altogether will be wonderful, and good health for us all. I’m never too worried about expensive gifts.
If you could describe ‘Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry’ in three words, what would they be?
Heartwarming, festive and puddings.
Lastly, do you have any future book news that you are able to share with us?
There is going to be a third Pudding Pantry which I am writing right now. It carries on Rachel’s story a few months from where we leave the Christmas book, and will be a lovely summery countryside treat. I’ll not give too much away, but there may be confetti involved!
Thank you and have a very Merry Christmas everyone!
Thank YOU, Caroline, for this absolutely wonderful interview! Merry Christmas! x
Please stay tuned tomorrow for an extremely exciting giveaway from Caroline herself exclusively here on BreakfastAtShelbys!