When newly heartbroken, michelin-starred chef Millie Harper is offered a job overseeing the setup of The Paradise Cookery School she jumps at the opportunity. Leaving London and her memories of heartbreak behind she hops on a plane to the hilltop cocoa plantation in St Lucia.
But this beautiful island break might be more work than she’d expected…. With only two weeks to have the kitchen installed, cocoa pods going missing from the plantation and the notoriously relaxed island workmen to contend with, she’s going to need some help. Gruff but charming estate manager Zach Baxter, is only too happy to offer his opinions. As the two clash heads can they remain focussed on the job in hand and get the cookery school finished in time?
Pack your bags and jump right into the sun and secrets of The Paradise Cookery School. Perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Jenny Oliver and Kat French.
Title: Sunshine and Secrets
Author: Daisy James
Published By: Canelo
Publication Date: 19th March
Links to Book:
Author Q & A with Daisy James
Welcome to Sincerely Book Angels blog.
Thank you, it’s great to be here.
What was the inspiration behind this novel?
I love books set in exotic places so I decided to set Sunshine & Secrets on the gorgeous island of St Lucia. I had lots of fun researching everything I needed to know about the island, its culture, its people, the music, and, of course, the food. Millie’s story revolves around the setting up of the Paradise Cookery School - so the Caribbean cuisine played a major role in the book. I even tried out several recipes just so I could get a flavour of the foods the characters were tasting.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I think so. My earliest recollection of wanting to be a write was when I was about five and I wrote a short comic strip, drew all the pictures and coloured them in, taped it together with cellotape, and then asked my sister to buy a copy! I really wished she’d kept it!
What other jobs have you had?
Well, not many people know this but I’ve been an extra in a few TV dramas. It’s great fun to see a programme being filmed, not just from the acting point of view but I love watching the people in charge of the cameras, the lighting, the sound equipment and the directing. The last one I did – the only part of me the viewer saw in the end was my elbow! Not a starring role!!
How did it feel when your first novel was published?
Oh, it was absolutely a dream come true. I started writing The Runaway Bridesmaid when I was stranded in a New York hotel room when Hurricane Sandy hit (we were there celebrating a big milestone birthday) It was terrifying and to keep myself occupied I started to scribble a story set there whilst my family played with Lego. It was six long days later when we managed to board a flight back home. So – every cloud does have a silver lining!
Can you please tell us a little about your publishing story.
I’ve been writing stories since I was a child, then moved on to writing short stories. I wrote my first novel about ten years ago – in long-hand - and it’s still in a shoe box on the top of the wardrobe which is where it’s going to stay! The Runaway Bridesmaid was the first book to be published and since then I’ve published five more – Sunshine & Secrets will be my seventh book – which I can hardly believe!
What other books have you written?
My second book is If The Dress Fits which follows the story of Callie-Louise who is a fashion designer desperate for her first break into the world of bridal couture. It’s set in Yorkshire, which is where I’m from. There’s Something About Cornwall is another story I loved researching and writing. Obviously, there’s no prizes for guessing it’s set in Cornwall, but it’s about a food photographer, Emilie, who undertakes a road trip around the county in a cute orange camper van she nicknames the Satsuma Splittie.
Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
I have. The way I deal with it, if I can, is to give myself permission to write rubbish. Just to sit in my chair, put my fingers on my keyboard and type until a story thread emerges and I can get back to my WIP.
What motivates you to keep writing?
I love it!
Where is your favourite place to write?
In the summer months I write in my little summerhouse (shed). In the winter I write at the kitchen table which is very distracting but stops me from getting frostbite!
Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?
Sometimes, especially when they’re having a good time. It means the writing is flowing and that makes me happy.
What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Read, read and read some more. Perseverance is also a character trait that will stand an aspiring writer in good stead – there’s lots of rejection so you’ve just got to brush yourself down and start again. Oh, and finish the story – which I think also comes under advice point two.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading this amazing book by Elspeth Beard who rode her BMW motorbike around the world solo! It’s fascinating – she has my total respect! It’s called Lone Rider.
If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Well, as it’s set in the Caribbean it would have to be a calypsos tune.
Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
I’d love Reece Witherspoon to play Millie.
What is your next book about?
My next book in the Paradise Cookery School series is called Confetti & Confusion. Six women descend on the school to take the course entitled Confetti & Chocolate- it’s filled with chocolate goodies, but just like in Sunshine & Secrets there’s a mystery lurking.
Thank you so much for joining us today Daisy and good luck with the book.
Book Angel x
A huge thank you for having me as a guest on your blog today – I really enjoyed answering your questions!
About the Author
Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.