This month we’ve been chatting to bestselling author Carole Matthews about her and her new book Happiness for Beginners – your perfect summer read! Plus, don’t forget to enter below for a chance to win a copy for yourself!
Queen of Romance Carole has been writing heart-warming, funny and incredibly uplifting books for many years. She’s sold over five million copies and her novels dazzle and delight readers all over the world.
Have you been on any literary pilgrimages?
Yes, I put my National Trust membership card to very good use!
There are quite a few places to choose from in the Lake District. I’ve been to Beatrix Potter’s house, Hill Top at Hawkshead in Ambleside. Such a beautiful place to visit. No wonder she felt so inspired. Also there’s William Wordsworth’s house in Cockermouth, also well worth a trip to see. I’ve been to John Ruskin’s house, Brantwood at Consiton – very interesting. They’re all fabulous houses with wonderful gardens.
I’ve also visited Monk’s House in East Sussex, the home of Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard. Another gorgeous place and they had visitors such as T S Eliot and E M Forster – so I felt steeped in literary history. The home of Rudyard Kipling, Bateman’s, is also in East Sussex and that’s a stunning place.
Where do you go to recharge your batteries?
Always the Lake District. We used to travel the world and have been to China, Peru, Nepal, Africa and many other beautiful places, but it was only when I discovered re-discovered the Lake District that I found somewhere that I wanted to return to time and time again. Now we go with a group of friends every year.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I read voraciously as a child and don’t think I had a favourite book. My mum ended up having to buy books to give to my primary school as I whipped my way through all the books that they had.
Do you visit the destinations in your books?
Oh, yes. I think you must always go to where you’re writing about or you miss the necessary ‘colour’ that it provides. I’ve just booked a research week on a houseboat at Bembridge Harbour on the Isle of Wight for the book I’m currently writing so that I can get the setting right. Quite often trips often provide unexpected inspiration too. I think my most adventurous trip was to Swedish Lapland for my book, Calling Mrs Christmas. I stayed in a wilderness lodge and took part in cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, igloo-building and skidooing – all in minus 36 degrees. I also saw the most spectacular display of the Northern Lights – how could that not be inspiring?
What are your top three destinations on your bucket list?
My bucket list destinations are much closer to home than they used to be!. I’d love to spend an extended period in the highlands of Scotland and go out both the inner and outer islands of the Hebrides. We’re heading to Norfolk this year – a county that I haven’t really explored and a trip to the Norfolk Broads would be on my bucket list. I do love messing about on water. My greatest pleasure in the last few years has been the joy of discovering canal-based holidays on the waterways of England. We’re so lucky to have such an amazing canal network and the ability to enjoy them afloat. My other bucket list destination is Ireland. I haven’t ever been there, despite my family heritage being Irish. They’re from Southern Ireland around the Waterford area, so I think a nice road trip that also took in the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route and Dublin would be a good idea. I’ve also heard wonderful things about Belfast as a place to visit for a weekend.
The literary character you are most like?
I’m afraid that I’d probably say Lucy Lombard from my book, The Chocolate Lovers’ Club! Lucy is very well-intentioned, but prone to making gaffs. Fortunately, she’s a firm favourite with my readers. She gets to eat a lot of chocolate too, so that works for me. That book was set in London, so my research was quite easy, but I did visit a lot of lovely chocolate shops.
If you could choose anywhere in the world to write where would it be?
Again, I’d opt for England’s Lake District. We rent a house in Keswick every year that has a ‘prosecco terrace’ which overlooks Derwent Water and Latrigg. It’s so beautiful. I could happily write there. I’d work all morning and then head into the hills for the afternoon – my favourite area is around Buttermere and I love hiking up Haystacks. I’m not one for hot countries any more. I used to love sunbathing and white sandy beaches, but can’t bear the heat now. That’s not usually something that troubles me in the Lakes!
Have you ever been inspired to visit a destination based on a book you read?
I went to the special Valentine’s Day Harry Potter studio tour last year. I’d tried to get tickets for their Valentine’s Dinner in the Great Hall for three years and finally managed it. The tickets are limited to just over a hundred and the evening was fantastic. After an excellent dinner in the fabulous atmosphere of the Great Hall film set, we had the rest of the studio virtually to ourselves until midnight. Some of the other guests had dressed in costume which also added to the evening. The studios are fantastic. Everything is just so well done. Even if you’re not a fan of the books, I’m sure it would still be an enjoyable experience. It wasn’t cheap but was such a fabulous thing to do.
What books did you take on holiday this year?
We got married at a little farmhouse in the Lake District this year on the shore of Rydal Water, so my holiday was my honeymoon. I look The Silent Companions and The Corset both by Laura Purcell, both Gothic thrillers which I very much enjoyed. I also read Force of Nature by Jane Harper. I’m a big fan of her books and am currently reading The Lost Man. They have the fantastic and unusual setting of the outback of Australia – which sounds like an amazing place. Though I confess that it doesn’t give me the slightest inclination to go there!
What is the one thing you always travel with?
My own teabags! How British is that? I love so much about travel, but I have to take my own cup of tea with me. We went to Switzerland a few years ago and, as usual, I packed my trusty travel kettle and teabags. I was so thankful that I had done. In our hotel, room service tea was about four quid a cup. I think I saved myself about four hundred pounds in tea purchases.
Thank you for having me. Happy travels, everyone. C : ) xx.
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