Sunday, 7 August 2016

Food & Drink Month: Q&A with Helen Cox

It's hard to believe that it's already been a month since Helen Cox's debut Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner was published.  Helen has been a regular visitor to the blog in the last couple of months, I interviewed her as part of a debut feature in May which you can read here and she also wrote a guest post talking about the inspiration behind the series which you can also read about here. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey?
I’m a 34 year old northern lass with more than a passing interest in books, America and Grease 2. Some of my family and friends have labelled my obsession with this movie ‘unhealthy’. I would listen more carefully to their arguments on this score but it’s difficult to hear what they’re saying over Michelle Pfeiffer singing ‘Cool Rider’.

I’m in love with the writing process and have written stories since I was old enough to hold a pen in an upright position. I completed my M/A in Literature and Creative Writing a decade ago and since then have authored three non-fiction books and written for websites, magazines and blogs. At the beginning of July 2016 I achieved a life-long dream when my first novel, Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner was published by the Avon imprint at HarperCollins.

Describe your cooking style, follow recipes religiously or wing it and see how it turns out? 
I’m having a rare moment of guilt here. I don’t usually have much time for guilt (negative emotions like that can eat into your precious book-reading time) but my cooking style, more often than not, is to ask my husband if he’ll cook because I’m too shattered to be bothered. If that fails, I suggest going out for dinner might be nice. 

I don’t really have the time or the inclination to be the all-round goddess the TV commercials claim I can be if I’ll only buy that new moisturiser/detergent. There are a few recipes I know off the top of my head such as the recipe for Yorkshire puddings, Quiche Lorraine and Potatoes au Gratin and such but I’m afraid if I’m cooking you’re getting dishes of the simple but classic variety.

If you were going to apply to be a contestant on a cooking show, would it be Masterchef or Great British Bake Off? 
I’d definitely do GBBO given the choice. I’d love the opportunity to cry on national television about the dryness of a Victoria sponge gone wrong. Only a select few get the chance to do something that momentous in their life. I’d love to be one of them. Plus, Mary Berry is obviously a total legend. 

You're planning a dinner party, which 5 people (dead or alive) would you invite?  
I love these kind of questions but they’re always so difficult! After some deliberation I think I’d choose three from the realm of celebrity and two from my personal life. First up, I’d choose the Queen – I know it’s not cool to be a royalist now but I think the Queen has had such an incredible life because of the era in which she came to the throne. I’d love to hear what she thought of all the different Prime Ministers and her thoughts on how our country has changed since the crown was first placed on her head.

I’d also invite Maya Angelou because she is, in my opinion, one of the most incredible and undervalued authors to have ever lived. She was such a wise woman, I’d love to hear her ruminate on all her philosophies over a slice of arctic roll. And the last celebrity would be a relatively new face, Kate McKinnon. I thought she was kick-ass in the new Ghostbusters movie and if there was a lull in conversation we could ask if she’d mind dancing around with some blow torches to Rhythm of the Night by DeBarge. On a list of reasons to invite someone to dinner, it’s difficult to top that.

On the non-celebrity front I’d invite my paternal Grandparents. They’re gone and I miss them. My Grandad only died a few years ago but my Grandma died when I was fourteen and I’d love a second chance to get to know her better.

It's your last day on earth, what 3 course meal would you choose?
I think I’d choose three courses of our Mam’s home cooking. To start, tomato soup served with a warm, crusty bread roll. For main course, a slice of Mam’s steak pie with veg, mash, Yorkshire pudding and gravy and for dessert a slice of the chocolate cheesecake our Mam makes… it involves lots of cream and a mix of milk and dark chocolate. It’s heaven.

What's your favourite dish to cook?  
Well, we’ve already established I’m not exactly the next Jamie Oliver but I do enjoy making a good Sunday roast. I get a lot of satisfaction out of getting the roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings just right. Plus, I only tend to cook this when we’ve got a lot of people gathered around the table so it’s a meal that also has a lot of fond memories attached to it of family and friends laughing and chatting together. There’s little else in the world more precious than that.

And now a few quickfire questions to finish:

Gordon Ramsay or Marco Pierre White? Marco Pierre White because in Star Wars terms he is the Jedi Knight and Gordon Ramsay is the Padawan.
Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry? Mary Berry. She is so ambitious and has had an incredible career to show for it.
Sweet or Savoury? Being a northerner, savoury just edges out sweet. Nothing tops gravy, especially on chips. Plus, New York pizza. 
Steak or Lobster? Steak. I married a vegetarian so when I go out it’s always steak if the budget stretches.
Profiteroles or Crumble?  Profiteroles in summer. Crumble in winter. Please. Can you tell I’m the kind of woman who likes to have my cake and eat it?

You can connect with Helen via her website, Twitter @Helenography or Facebook Helen Cox author.

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