It’s Friday again and tonight I am beyond excited to welcome to my blog for Friday Night Drinks, one of my favourite authors and someone I hope I can now call a friend, the lovely Veronica Henry. Veronica’s new book, Christmas at the Beach Hut was published yesterday and she has agreed to join me for a celebratory tipple.
Veronica, thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. Now, I know you mix a mean gin and tonic but what are you drinking this evening?
An Americano, which is Campari and Vermouth topped up with soda with lashings of ice and a twist of orange. Basically a slightly less ferocious Negroni!
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
Oooh. How about the Canary Gin Bar in Bath? You can’t not have fun in there. I have a tale or two!
I’ve got a feeling that The Irishman and I might have spent an evening in there once, although it’s a bit of a hazy memory! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
Lovely lovely lovely Anthony Bourdain. I could listen to him forever, and I would have loved to have met him. Maybe we could have Nigella along, as they were friends. I’m a big admirer of their writing, so it would be fun to chat and get up to no good.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
I am writing my 20th novel, which is a bit scary!! I’ve written two books this year so I had to plunge straight in. No time for wafting about cogitating! But pressure focusses the mind rather, I find. Everything has clarified more quickly than usual.
Twenty novels! That’s an amazing achievement. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
Recently, I was very proud to write an introduction to the re-issue of This Year it Will Be Different, by Maeve Binchy. She is a hero of mine, and to be asked was a huge honour. My biggest challenge was to keep writing after my father died, and still be uplifting. I just wanted to curl up in a ball but I couldn’t.
I love Maeve Binchy, her writing is such an inspiration to me. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!
I’d love to dramatise one of my books for TV, but I suspect there aren’t enough murderers or stalkers in my novels.
Oooh, that would be great! Which would you pick? The Honeycote books would make a great serial for a Sunday evening, wouldn’t they? What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
I’m really enjoying writing my current novel – there’s something about the dynamics between the characters that keeps driving it forward so it’s got real momentum, but it’s also set somewhere beautiful. I love description. It’s one of the reasons I found scriptwriting frustrating and turned to novels. Just one word can convey so much.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
The best fun I’ve ever had is a weekend at Soho House Berlin. I seemed to cram in so much – literally and metaphorically! Food, history, culture and cocktails – it’s such a great city.
Bucket list wise, I’ve got my eye on Turin. Just a gut feeling. Or a cycling trip around the Piedmont. I am not by nature energetic but I feel the cycling might offset the gourmandising.
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
Hmmm. I’m going to have to go and have an intimate piercing just so I can answer this!
Ha, ha, neatly dodged! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, going back to question 3! It’s shocking and exciting and inspiring and coruscating. It’s one of my all time favourite books.
Interesting choice! I’ve not read that so I’ll have to add it to the increasing TBR. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Oh my, I could write a book. Don’t drink on an empty stomach, don’t mix grape and grain, alternate with water, if the room starts spinning it’s too late . . . Basically, if you don’t want a hangover, don’t start drinking. Once you’ve tasted blood it’s all out the window. Cure wise: water before bed; Berocca and painkillers on rising, then egg sandwich, crisps and fat Coke. But time is the only real cure.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
I do love an art gallery, especially if it has a cool shop to browse in afterwards. I find art really inspiring. I recently went to the Colombe d’Or in St Paul de Vence and just looking at all those paintings made me tingle. Artists take more risks than writers, I think, and sometimes that energy is really apparent. I can remember the first time I saw a Jackson Pollock and thought ‘Oh, I get it now.’ Sometimes I find reading books inhibiting or dispiriting, but never looking at paintings.
Veronica, thank you so much for coming and chatting to me this evening, it has been really lovely and I look forward to catching up with you in person soon.
Veronica’s new book, Christmas at the Beach Hut is out now and you can buy a copy here or pick up a copy in any supermarket. It can be read as a standalone but you should really check out the other Beach Hut novels too. Watch out for a review of the book on the blog soon.
If you would like to connect further with Veronica, here are her social media links:
Next week I will be having drinks with my great friend, fellow blogger, aspiring writer and partner-in-crime, Kate Baker.