Catherine Daly- In her own words.
Who is Catherine Daly?
A full-time mother of two, who writes whenever she can find the time.
How did you get an idea for a book?
Basically, inspiration can come from anywhere. A snippet of conversation, a picture, another book I might have read... but A French affair was a little different:
Some rowdy characters (Evie, Monique, Holly and Alex) from a short story I wrote for Social and Personal in 2004 (A Present from France- S & P Apr. 2004) refused to stay within the four pages they were allocated. They insisted that I had oversimplified their story, got some of the details quite frankly wrong, and had left out all the juicy bits. A few other characters (Joël, Laurent, Marian and Céline) objected to having been left out all together and were threatening to go to the press with their own version of events.
As I had unwisely allowed some of them live in a beautiful village so close to our second home in France, somewhere I like to escape to as often as I can, I thought it would be un-neighbourly of me to ignore them for much longer!
And what do you do when you're not writing (or humouring people who exist only in your imagination?)
See question 1. But when I'm not running around after the kids, and if I happen to find a few minutes to myself, the first thing I usually do is reach for is a book. I'm a voracious reader, I probably read well in excess of one hundred books a year- which is why I won't be answering the 'What's your favourite book /writer ?' question. Apart from reading, I like to cook (sometimes!), garden (as long as it's not raining!) and eat out. In fact food is a bit of a hobby! I think there's no better way of spending a couple of hours than wandering through a good food market, sampling and planning a few meals.
Being a parent, and working from home, how do you find time to relax?
Good question! Like any parent, the moment I reach for a cup of coffee, pick up the telephone for a chat or start reading a book or a newspaper, suddenly the hordes arrive with requests for snacks, drinks and attention! And even if they're not there- how can you relax when you know that there's laundry in the machine, letters to be answered, a chapter waiting to be written?
The only way I can cut myself off properly, and really take some time to myself is in the bath! A good book, some smelly bubbles, maybe a glass of wine... Bliss!
The other option- (but it takes some training of the other half)- is breakfast in bed with the Sunday papers.
And if I find myself with an hour to kill in town- one of my all-time favourite pastimes is book-shop browsing- Especially looking in those bargain bins or the dusty back areas where the backlists hide. I usually end up buying five to ten books from authors I may never have heard of, knowing that I'll have some absolute gems hidden in amongst them.
Interests and Hobbies.
Food I'm a real foodie, so I love to read cookbooks and then ignore the recipes, but 'adapt' them to suit whatever I happen to have in the cupboard, or whatever I feel like making. Television cooking shows are given the same respect.
My basic philosophy when it comes to food, is get the best you can afford, then muck around with it as little as possible. (I'm a real fan of traditional country cooking- especially from South West France and Tuscany.
I'm not a fan of 'synthetic' ingredients, and if I need to put on my glasses to read the ingredients in a product, I usually don't bother buying it.
One day, I promise, I'm going to write a cookbook. Full of all my own short cuts to producing impressive meals without too much work.
In the meantime- have a look at these wicked recipes on our French Website
Gardening. Although we haven't got a huge garden, I manage to spend a fair time pottering. When we moved into our current house, it had a fabulous garden, but totally unsuitable for two small children. So we had to lanscape it from scratch. ('Scratch' included moving eight tons of topsoil, a barrow load at a time!). Now we have a mix of lawn and beds, and just enough space to grow fresh herbs, salads and a few vegetables (isn't it amazing the lengths you'll go to to persuade kids to eat their veg?)
And our place in France came with a huge area to manage, so that's great fun too.
Internet: Having designed my own website, and learning how to get it up onto the net, I was then drawn into the 'Web'. There's so much you can do online and I find it a fantastic resource.I spend a fair bit of time keeping up to date with the latest news online and also I've become a tiny bit of an 'expert' on websites. So much so that I've been asked to advise people from chocolate makers to marketing companies on how to get the most from their own websites!
And then, apart from this website I also set up and maintain:
Once you get started with the internet, you're never satisfied, and you keep know more. And then of course you have to find find ways of persuading people to look at your sites. But the wonderful thing about the internet is that its full fo useful sites teaching youhow to make the most of it, and plenty of people on line who love answering questions from the totally helpless- like me! Thanks to all their help, I could probably write a bluffer's guide, myself, to search engines and site rankings.
(I was delighted to discover that my french website consistently appears on the first or second page of loads of search engines if you're looking for the particular holiday we have to offer!!)
When things get really hectic, I disappear off to my favourite place in the whole world: France, more specifically the wonderful village of Lanquais