Curzon & Harkstead are visiting!

Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead write as a team and they have two new books out for your delectation and delight. Eleanor is here today to answer intrusive questions and talk about their books! Welcome, Eleanor!

Your starter for one: Why are you doing this interview?

Eleanor Harkstead: I’m here today because we (writing team Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead) have not one but two new books out. The Captain and the Baker, our summery romcom set in Cornwall, and our Halloween novella How to Make the Perfect Man.

What started you writing?

The first story I wrote that wasn’t something I was told to write at school was about a skeleton who lived in a wardrobe, and his friends a witch and a vampire. I must’ve been about six!

Fast forward several years and I’d kept writing. My first published title was Poison Panic, a non-fiction book about Victorian poisoners. Catherine writes historical non-fiction for the same publisher, so that’s how we came to meet. We discovered a shared love of tea, chaps and fine tailoring, and that we have a similar sense of humour, and off we went! We’ve been writing together now for over three years.

Where do you write?

I tend to write at my desk at home, but if I’m out and about I write on my phone. I’ve written at the hairdresser’s waiting for the dye to take! Catherine and I write together online, which means we can be as mobile as we need to. Once we were both in different hotels, two hundred miles apart, finishing one novel and embarking on the next.

What do you like to read?

Over the past few months, I’ve been enjoying Vaseem Khan’s Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels. They’ve got such a compelling sense of place, and he’s really good at creating a cast of very different characters to inhabit the world of his stories. And the mysteries keep me reading. Like most people, I haven’t travelled very far over the last few months, so I’ve enjoyed my vicarious travels to Khan’s Mumbai by book!

It might sound odd, but in some ways, his writing reminds me of the stories Catherine and I write – even down to the way he writes his animal characters with the same vividness as he does his humans.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

Catherine and I are our own support group!

I’m in the Romantic Novelists’ Association too. I started to go to lunches with members of my local chapter several years ago. I was writing a romance, then was commissioned to write the book about poisoners, yet I was still welcomed by the group, which shows how lovely and enthusiastic RNA members are about writing. It was a proud moment when I went back to writing romance and was able to join!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like gardens and I enjoy visiting old towns and cities. My only visits in the past few months have been to Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and to Warwick! Warwick was great as my partner and I went to Lord Leycester’s Hospital, which dates back to the 1300s. We went to Hill Close Gardens, which was really lovely – there were even summer houses there which are listed buildings.

But then I expect you can appreciate the lure of historical places!

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

The Captain and the Baker came about when I visited Catherine and we were watching cookery programmes on the telly. Catherine already had in mind the idea of a mild-mannered baker, who would turn into gentle Cornishman Locryn. Watching a sweary chef losing his rag on the telly created the idea for his foil – Jake, who’s so very different to Locryn. And as everyone knows, opposites attract…

Writing the food scenes was great fun, even down to the giant wedding cake shaped like a boat. And I enjoyed penning Jake’s creative use of profanities! Creating the village of Porthavel was wonderful, showing readers the harbour, the village’s buildings, and the people who live there. Sometimes elements of novels you’re writing can feel so real, that once or twice I found myself wondering why I couldn’t find Porthavel on Google Maps!

To be honest, the thing I hate is when a story comes to an end, but it’s never long before we’re writing something else!

Read on to find out more about The Captain and the Baker and How to Make the Perfect Man!

The Captain and the Baker – out now

Buy the Captain & the Baker : Out in Ebook, KU, paperback

How to Make the Perfect Man came from a prompt for writing a Halloween story. I liked the idea of writing a “mad scientist” character after spending time among the real test-tubes of my Victorian non-fiction, and doing it in a light-hearted way. I had fun imagining what Aubrey’s laboratory would look like, and how a twenty-first century Frankenstein would create his man. I enjoyed writing my tweedy, geeky scientist opposite Catherine’s swish alchemist, Trismegistus (Tris for short), in his shimmering suits, and teasing out the mutual attraction that the old friends have. And peopling the Halloween ball they go to with all manner of vampires, werewolves and ghouls was really fun too.

When a hot-tempered TV chef and a mild-mannered baker meet on the rugged Cornish coast, they’ve got the perfect ingredients for a red-hot snack.

Sweary and stressed celebrity chef Jake Brantham is the captain of several floating restaurants. When he’s sent to the idyllic village of Porthavel to turn a pirate ship into the next gastronomic sensation, it’s the last place on earth he wants to be.

Locryn Trevorrow is the bakery king of Cornwall. From the humble pasty to a wedding cake fit for a mermaid queen, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the art of baking. He lives in a cosy world of gingham and ganache, but at night he goes home to his smugglers’ cottage alone.

When he’s adopted by a lost kitten, Jake soon discovers that there’s more to Portavel than cream teas, lobster pots, and the annoyingly fastidious Locryn. As the village prepares for the wedding of its favourite young couple, Jake and Locryn find themselves as unlikely matchmakers for two locals who’d given up on love.

Torn between the call of Hollywood and the kisses of Locryn, will Jake choose a mansion in Beverly Hills or a cottage on the Cornish coast?

How to Make the Perfect Man – published 27 October, just in time for Halloween!

How to Make the Perfect Man : Ebook

Love isn’t science. It’s alchemy.

Needing a date for the hottest Hallowe’en party in town, scientist Aubrey Waldegrave sets to work creating his perfect man. Unfortunately, the Adonis who emerges from his laboratory is a free spirit who has no time for Aubrey’s brogues and tweeds.

Alchemist Trismegistus Nimlet can turn anything into gold, but when his apocathery’s alligator starts talking back and his werewolf allergy leaves him sneezing, it looks like Halloween might be a washout. Worse still, is Tris really about to lose the chap he secretly loves to a manmade surfer dude who’s more flash than Frankenstein?

With werewolves leaving fur in the ornamental fountains and a banshee making enough noise to wake the dead, Aubrey’s Halloween is going from bad to worse. All he wanted was to make his perfect man, but what if he was right there all along?

Find Catherine & Eleanor