Joanne Harris, author of several books including Chocolat,which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, has released Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé (Peaches for Father Francis in the US) which went straight into the UK best seller lists.
She has also written two cookery books with Fran Warde, well-known cookery writer: The French Kitchen and The French Market.
On her website Joanne Harris states that her hobbies are: “mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion of the system”, she also enjoys “obfuscation, sleaze, rebellion, witchcraft, armed robbery, tea and biscuits”. Her books have won numerous awards around the world and having read many of them and loved them to bits it was with a certain amount of trepidation and a great deal of anticipation that Janine Marsh at The Good Life France presented her questions to the formidable Ms Harris…
TGLF: At school what were you terrible at? Maths. I suspect that nowadays there’s a word for the numerical dyslexia I suffered at school, but in those days my teachers just assumed I was thick, or plain lazy.
TGLF: The hardest part of writing a novel is? Letting go. While it’s in your head the book belongs to you, but as soon as it’s on paper, it belongs to anyone who reads it…
TGLF: Do you think of your characters as being solely your creation, doing your bidding, or do they develop an independent existence, behaving in ways you hadn’t anticipated? If a character doesn’t develop a kind of autonomy, it’s usually because I haven’t done my job properly. I don’t think of characters as minions built to serve the plot gods – if they were I’d find it hard to care what happened to them…
TGLF: If you could have dinner with a writer – living or dead, who would it be? Alexandre Dumas, whose career combines one of the favourite novels of my childhood (The Three Musketeers) and one of the most successful cookbooks of all time.
TGLF: If you were to cook for the writer – what dish would you choose? I’d love to see his reaction to some of the more innovative dishes that have evolved over the past decade – or some of the Asian or African food now available to us. Something spicy and interesting…
TGLF: Desert Island book – if you could only take three books to a deserted island what would they be? Victor Hugo: Les Misérables; Ray Bradbury: The Golden Apples of the Sun; the complete Sandman (Neil Gaiman’s marvellous series of graphic novels)
TGLF: If you listen to music when you write what do you usually put on… I listen to a very wide variety of music, from musical theatre soundtracks and artists like Philip Quast, John Owen-Jones, Anthony Warlow, Mandy Patinkin, to Genesis, David Bowie, the Boomtown Rats, Blondie, the Beatles, Dire Straits, Johnny Cash, Queen and more contemporary bands like Elbow and more recently (via my daughter) Foxy Shazam and Axis of Awesome.
TGLF: My guiltiest pleasure is… I don’t feel guilty about pleasure. But I spend far too much on theatre tickets. And shoes.
TGLF: Red or white wine? Red.
TGLF: Just one more question,we all want to know your favourite place to holiday in France?! Yes, I do holiday in France (not as often as I’d like), and I tend to go to Noirmoutier, the island on which my grandfather had a house, where I spent all my childhood holidays.
A big thank you to Joanne Harris for giving us this exclusive interview.