In anticipation of Trisha Ashley’s sparkly new Christmas book ‘Wish Upon A Star’ this week, I’m reposting an interview from 2011,
when Trisha was celebrating the publication of ‘The Magic of Christmas’.
I was very new to blogging at the time, so this interview was put in a place where it didn’t appear in the tags. So here it is again, and will hopefully now appear in the right place.
Bonfire night is over – let Christmas begin!
And I’m hoping to follow up this interview with one for ‘Wish Upon a Star’ very soon.
FIRST POSTED IN NOVEMBER 2011
Today, as Christmas approaches, I’ve great pleasure in interviewing the bestselling author of ‘The Magic of Christmas’ : Trisha Ashley.
Trisha is published by Avon HarperCollins, and is the author of twelve romantic comedies. Two of her books have been shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan award for romantic comedy, while ‘Every Woman for Herself’ was voted one of the top three romantic novels of the last fifty years.
Trisha’s books contain some wonderful recipes – indeed she was recently described as the ’Queen of Yummy Lit’ – and you can find Trisha’s recipe for ginger tree biscuits at the end of her interview. (Below the Christmas tree)
Trisha is also generously giving away a signed copy of The Magic of Christmas. Details of how to enter for a chance of winning this Christmassy treat are below.
Hard to remember, really – as a child I was always writing poems, plays and little stories, then moved on to the opening chapters of novels. I finished my first novel at 18 (unpublishable).
And so what was the first thing you ever had published?
The first writings of mine to be published were poems in the local paper, when I was eleven. The first novel was a Regency romance in the early eighties. (I wrote two of those, before returning to my first love, the satirical novel.)
Your books are full of very English eccentric characters in a very English setting. Have you been inspired by any particular village or people when creating your books?
Some of my books also have very Welsh settings and characters, like The Generous Gardener/Sowing Secrets, but many of my recent books have been set in an imaginary bit of rural West Lancashire not far from Ormskirk. I was brought up in that area, so I suppose you could say that I am steeped in the legends and lore of the region and I have condensed it all into my own little world.
Your latest book, ‘The Magic of Christmas’ features a very traditional English Christmas. Can you give an idea of your own favourite part of Christmas?
Obviously, I love to bake the Christmas cake and make mincepies and mincemeat flapjacks, but after that, my favourite time is when I decorate the tree. I do it quite late in December, when the house is (unusually) clean and tidy and already smelling of spice and mystery.
I have a large gold tinsel tree that my son fell in love with at a garden centre when he was two, and onto that go an eclectic collection of ancient and new baubles (forget colour-coding or ‘themed’!) culminating with the placing on top of a papier mache Santa over eighty years old. His red robe has turned a soupy brown and my mother at some point tarted him up with a bit of red glitter glue and a cotton wool beard, but we love him anyway.
That Sounds very festive! I’m feeling all Christmassy now. So can I ask if you were going to be swept away for a romantic Christmas, where would it be, and who would be your dream hero to accompany you – especially if there was a bunch of mistletoe involved?
Rufus Sewell can take me anywhere he likes.
Ah, Rufus Sewell ….. Anyhow, to get back to the interview: you have some wonderful recipes in your book. If you were going to going to tear yourself away from Rufus to take part in the UK TV hit ‘The Great British Bakeoff’, what would be your signature dish for the pudding?
Oh, I couldn’t be faffing about with competitions or trying to impress anyone: I expect I’d just do a variant of Eton Mess using five minute microwave meringue!
Sounds yummy. And can I ask what your signature cake would be?
My favourite cake is the universal fruitcake recipe from the back of Wedding Tiers: perfect for birthdays, Christenings, weddings and just generally eating. Soak the dried fruit for three days in dark rum for a Christmas cake version.
Trisha’s Christmas cake, made for the launch of The Magic of Christmas. Delicious!
And, finally: ‘The Magic of Christmas’ is an extensive reworking of an earlier book. Did you enjoy the experience of revisiting a work you’d already said goodbye to, and was it easier or harder than starting a new book from scratch?
When I wrote Sweet Nothings, the original, I fell in love with Middlemoss and its inhabitants and always felt there was much more I wanted to say about them all. So I was delighted when it was suggested that I rewrite the book for Avon, to be published as The Magic of Christmas. The heroine, Lizzy, is a keen cook, especially of puddings and cakes and she and her friends in the Christmas Pudding Circle get together months in advance of the season to make sure that every Senior Citizen in Middlemoss gets the Christmas hamper of their dreams!
I think it was harder to rewrite a book than write one from scratch, and this was definitely a one off: I hope my out of print backlist will eventually be reprinted, but they will be as they were.
My new book, Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues, is a brand new novel, set in the village of Sticklepond, where A Winter’s Tale and Chocolate Wishes were also set and you will find one or two characters from Middlemoss also turning up…
Sounds intriguing! Thank you Trisha for being a guest on my blog. And Happy Christmas!
Trisha at the launch of The Magic of Christmas
You can see Trisha talking about her books HERE
TRISHA’S RECIPE FOR GINGER TREE BISCUITS
80z /225g plain flour
6oz/175g soft Brown Sugar
1 small egg, beaten
1 level teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinoman
¼ teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
Sieve flour and spices into a bowl, add butter chopped into bits. Rub into flour between thumb and finger (as you do with short crust pastry). When you have a mix like fine breadcrumbs, add the sugar and most of the egg, then knead lightly into a firm dough, adding the rest of the egg if necessary. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least half an hour to make it easier to roll out and cut.
Heat oven to 190 C , or 375 F, or gas mark 5. Grease a couple of baking trays. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board then cut shapes as desired.
Pierce each biscuit so it can be hung from a thread or ribbon (Trisha uses a chopstick to do this) place on the baking tray, well spaced, and bake for about 10 minutes until light brown at the edges (Trisha says it’s best to keep a close eye on them!). Remove and place on racks to cook. Trisha ices them by mixing a little icing sugar and water with natural food colouring, and brushes this on with a small brush.
Very pretty hung from the tree – and delicious eaten!