I have the very great pleasure to welcome Mary Jayne Baker to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals. Author of romantic comedies ‘The Runaway Bride’ and ‘The Perfect Fit’ and one of the authors on the edge who wrote the wonderful Miss Moonshines Moonshines Emporium of Happy Endings.
About Mary Jayne Baker
Mary Jayne Baker is a romance author from Yorkshire, UK. She is represented by Laura Longrigg at MBA Literary Agents.
Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them.
Frankie Hi Mary Jayne, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.
Firstly what five word’s would you use to describe yourself?
Mary Jayne Um… awkward, distracted, quite often asleep. Will that do?
Frankie Absolutely, If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?
Mary Jayne I’d love to visit England during the 1940s. I love the films and music produced during that period, and I’d be fascinated to see how people dealt with the terrifying reality of the Second World War in their day-to-day lives
Frankie Can you tell us a little about latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.
Mary Jayne The Perfect Fit returns to Egglethwaite, the setting for A Bicycle Made for Two, four years later. We meet Becky Finn, a Yorkshire lass who has returned to her home village after years living in London with reluctant fiancé Cole in tow. When Becky finds out the village hall is struggling to stay open, she rallies the villagers to revive the annual Christmas pantomime. But as Becky deals with bad actors, randy cast members, pompous T-Rexes and more innuendo than you can shake a stick at – not to mention a highly inconvenient and definitely unrequited attraction to handsome co-star Marcus – she starts to worry her embattled Cinderella might never make it to the stage
Although this is the second book in the Love in the Dales series, it’s not a direct sequel and can be read as a standalone.
Frankie Who was your childhood hero?
Mary Jayne I always had a soft spot for tomboys in classic literature, and the way they refused to accept the limitations of being a girl (although I probably wouldn’t have phrased it quite as fluently as that back then!). Jo March in Little Women was a favourite, and George in the Famous Five books.
Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead character’s?
Mary Jayne I’d love to see any of my books made into a film! The Perfect Fit would be a brilliant Christmas romcom, lots of pantomime fun and farce with a healthy side order of romance. I can definitely see Jodie Whittaker as heroine Becky, and I’d love Mark Addy and Sean Bean to play “Ugly Sisters” Gerry and Danny. Eddie Redmayne could be good as Becky’s fiancé Cole, whereas hero Marcus was named for a real actor I decided he looked like, Marcus Griffiths. I’m not sure what the real Marcus’s Yorkshire accent is like though, as he’s a Londoner!
Frankie LOL!! That would be absolutely brilliant. Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?
Mary Jayne Of my published books, definitely Deano Teasdale in the Love in the Dales series. He’s the eccentric chef in the village’s medieval-themed restaurant, with habits that include naming his favourite pans, flirting with the chair of the WI and going commando. It’s normal for romance writers to fall for their heroes, but I’ve got a bad habit of falling for the comic relief! I loved Deano in A Bicycle Made for Two, and it was a treat revisit him in The Perfect Fit.
Frankie Where doe’s your inspiration for your books come from?
Mary Jayne All over the place really – things that have happened to me, anecdotes people tell me, stories in newspapers and magazines, overheard conversations… I tend to think in terms of scenes and characters, so when I hear something that makes me laugh or feel sad, I’ll often wonder if I could work it up into a scene. Authors are terrible people to befriend as you never know what they might be making a mental note of to use later!
One example is a scene in The Perfect Fit where Becky is stood up in a Wetherspoon’s pub on her anniversary and gets chatted up by a group of men who feel sorry for her. Something very similar actually happened to me (only it was worse because it was Valentine’s Day!) and I squirreled it away for later.
Frankie What three tip’s would you pass on to an aspiring author?
Mary Jayne …..
- Don’t worry about quality, just write. If you stop to worry you’re not good enough, you’ll never finish. Trust me, we all produce dreadful first drafts – but a dreadful first draft is better than nothing at all. It gives you something to work with.
- Set yourself a daily word count. It doesn’t matter if it’s 2000 words or 200, as long as you’re getting those words down every day and working towards that magic “The End”.
- Read Self-editing for Fiction Writers. Of all the books on writing I’ve read, that’s the one I found the most helpful when I was starting (and I still reread periodically).
Frankie If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)
Mary Jayne Tough one! I think I’d invite Terry Pratchett, Groucho Marx and Emily Brontë. That should be interesting.
Frankie Thank you, Mary Jayne for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?
Mary Jayne As a Yorkshirewoman, it has to be fish and chips! I treat myself to them whenever it’s pub day for a new book.
I completely agree with you on that one, thank you Mary Jayne.
About the Book
The Perfect Fit
‘A wonderful book with a great story and a sparky, unusual voice. I loved it!’ KATIE FFORDE
After years living in London, costume shop owner Becky Finn is trying to build a new life for herself and fiancé Cole in her old home of Egglethwaite, a sleepy village in the Yorkshire Dales.
Keen to raise funds for the struggling village hall she loved as a child, Becky soon finds herself at the head of a colourful group intent on resurrecting Egglethwaite s Christmas pantomime. But, as she quickly discovers, there s more to panto than innuendo and slapped thighs.
As opening night grows closer, Becky starts to wonder if her embattled panto will ever make it to the stage and, with handsome co-star Marcus on the scene, if she s picked the right man for her after all.
Exclusive Chat With George Standish-Brookes & Henry Fitzwalter, Stars of The Captain and the Cricketer.
Today I have the very great pleasure to welcome the stars of ‘The Captain and the Cricketer’ George Standish-Brookes and Henry Fitzwalter to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive and illuminating chat. Really these lads are a hoot! (Plus, they provided scones, so I’m happy.) So, take a seat, get the tea and scones at the ready because you really don’t want to miss a moment of this chat.
Frankie: Hello lads, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.
Hello! Captain George Standish-Brookes reporting for duty all alone, alas, as Fitz is in the kitchen talking to a concerned resident about their ferret’s toenails or some such – village vets never sleep! So for now, at least, you’ll have to put up with just me.
Frankie: I don’t mind at all, it’s so good to have you here. Firstly, what five words would you use to describe yourself?
George: I’ll give you three. No, four. Captain George Standish-Brookes. One doesn’t like talking about oneself – the gossip columns have done enough of that already. Instead, I’ll give you five words to describe Fitz – Henry to his mum – instead, and he can deal with the George side of things. So Fitz, who has now joined me with a pot of tea and a plateful of scones, is five words of fabulous. Handsome, smart, tweedy, sexy, husband.
Frankie: Hello Henry, so glad you could join us.
Henry (aka Fitz): Oh hell, I’ve dropped the scones! Well that’s very kind of you, Standy-Bee. My five words for you would be… gorgeous, brave, mischievous, shirtless and kind.
George: I’m not always shirtless, just in case people were wondering about what I do in winter. Often, not always.
Frankie: *Smiling* If you could take a holiday in any era and place, when and where would it be? And why?
George: I’m very fortunate to have seen many of my bucket list destinations whilst filming my Secret Histories series for the Beeb. And as anyone who’s watched them (which is, I think, several million of you) will know, I’m no stranger to getting togged up and trying out life as it was back in Sparta, Rome, the Russian revolution, Sherwood Forest and half a dozen other amazing eras.
Henry: Several million? Could I have a sixth word to describe, George, please — cocky!
George: You’ll get us an X rating talking like that! If I take my pick though, I’d whisk Fitz and I back to Rome in the 1960s. We’d hop on a scooter and join Anita Ekberg for a frolic in the Trevi Fountain!
Henry: I’d pick the Treetops Hotel in Kenya in the 1950s — but without any shooting going on. I’d just like to drive about in a jeep with George and watch the lions at sunset.
George: Oh, that’s a lovely idea, darling. You and I tooling about, you in your Panama hat and sensible togs, me in far less. Sunblock and a smile.
Frankie: Can you tell us a little about your latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.
George: The Captain and the Cricketer is a new release by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead that tells our story, Fitz and me, from daggers drawn to sharing scones and a lot more besides. In true promo fashion, you’ll have to buy it to find out how we solved a crime, saved a village and banished a billionaire!
Henry: And rescued a foal! George — if you blow on the scone, it’s perfectly edible. They were only on the floor for under five seconds.
George: Your mind’s in the gutter today, Fitz. Blow on this, cocky that! And yes, we rescued a lovely foal and a darling of a dog, who is eyeing that scone with interest but no hope of getting it. Fitz surrenders his scone to nobody!
Frankie: *Cough’s subtly* Who was your childhood hero?
George: Fitz. He was my best chum and I always wished I could be him, because he never struggled with his homework or got bowled out first wicket. He’s still my hero today, I’m very blessed to know him.
Henry: I always admired George when we were nippers. But might I say James Herriot? I have all of his books, and George and I were glued to the screens on Sunday evenings watching his adventures!
George: I always had a bit of a crush Tristan when I was a boy. The first stirrings!
Henry: Ah, Tristan — there’s a man who knows how to carry off a cricket jumper.
George: That was Dr Who, darling. Do you remember that stick of celery he wore? I should do that at the next match, cricket jumper, whites, celery. I’m halfway to a Bloody Mary.
Frankie: If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead characters?
George: The Captain and the Cricketer, since it’s the only Curzon/Harkstead novel that stars Henry and me. Whoever plays me would have to be very, very British. A posh boy who looks good in cricket jumpers and out of them!
Henry: Not that he was an actor, but my hero — James Herriot.
George: Good choice, Fitz. I have no idea what he looked like, but spiritually, you’re the heir to his stethoscope.
*Frankie’s note : Above left the real James Herriot and right my choice of who would play George; Toby Stephans.
Frankie: You are the stars of the Captain and the Cricketer, but who is your favourite character in the book – yourselves excepted? (Question rewritten by George and Henry!]
George: If I can, I’ll say say Jez and Nimrod, our horse and dog, because they’re a couple of gorgeous little heroes. Otherwise I think Reverend Standish-Brookes and Bad Billy Fitzwalter, our 18th century ancestors. They’re quite a trailblazing and scandalous pair! And the rev’s mum, Georgie, because she was up for just about anything and looked fabulous in a frock!
Henry: And you look fabulous in a frock, too, darling! As for me, well, the newts who live in Longley Parva Manor’s lake are a particular favourite.
George: I’ve spent many happy hours running programme ideas past those newts – they’re refreshing full of common sense for a chap who’s used to dealing with the British press!
Frankie: *Giggles away for a good five minutes* What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?
George: Three tips for an aspiring anything, just to have a happy life. Be patient, be kind, eat cake.
Henry: I am an aspiring author myself, you know. I’ve started to write my memoir. A sort of 21st century James Herriot.
George: All Fitzes Great and Small.
Henry: That’s the working title! My advice would be: don’t let your dog chew your pens, don’t let your dog eat your notepads, and finally, don’t let your dog walk across your keyboard.
Frankie: *Laugh’s again* Great tip, just keep dog away. If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)
George: I’m rather fortunate in that my careers as an occasionally shirtless TV historian means that I’ve been able to meet a lot of my heros and work with a fair few of them so I’m probably going to have to jaunt back into history for this one. What about you, Fitz? Siegfried, Tristan and Tricky Woo?
Henry: I always thought the late, great Robert Hardy would’ve been fun to meet — he seemed to be full of bonhomie. Jenny Lind — she could sing for us after dinner, as I’ve always wondered what her voice sounded like. Not on some scratchy old record, but live — that would be amazing, wouldn’t it? And the legendary W G Grace, too — would love to get some tips from him. Maybe practice with him in the hallway.
George: Oh, that’s a marvellous trio, you could all share a pizza and a few bottles – think of the stories! I would gather good old Magellan, whose voyage I recreated for the Beeb a couple of years ago. I’d love to meet the remarkable Sacagewa too, because she’s a lady we should all know a darn sight more about. To fill the third seat who better than the man, the legend, the great, David Gower. I’m sure they’d all find plenty of common ground. Cricket and exploring – perfect!
*Left to right : Jenny Lind, W.G Grace, David Gower and Siegfried, Tristan Farnon and James Herriot with Tricky Woo.
Frankie: Thank you both, for taking the time out of your busy schedules to chat with me today. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?
George: Strawberries and cream shared with Fitz, sitting beside the lake at home on a balmy summer evening. Perfection!
Henry: With a bottle of champers?
George: At least. Maybe even two.
Henry: Sharing an ice cream cone on the prom at Brighton with George. With lots of sprinkles and raspberry sauce!
George: Everything’s better with lots of sauce.
Frankie: Perfect! Thank you, lads. It has been wonderful to chat with you today and thank you for the scones. I don’t mind that they’ve been on the floor. 😉
Meet the Authors
You have met George and Henry, now here are the two wonderful ladies who have given wings to their story.
Catherine Curzon is an author and royal historian of the 18th century.
She has written extensively for publications including HistoryExtra.com, the official website of BBC History Magazine, Your Family History, Real Crime, Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austen’s Regency World. Catherine has given solo talks at venues and events including the Stamford Georgian Festival, the Jane Austen Festival, Lichfield Guildhall, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich and Dr Johnson’s House. In addition, she has appeared with An Evening with Jane Austen, starring Adrian Lukis, at Kenwood House, the Hurlingham Club, Godmersham Park, the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, the Jane Austen Festival, Bath, and the Stamford Georgian Festival.
Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine can often be found watching the mighty Huddersfield Town. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously step hill with a rakish colonial gentleman, a long-suffering cat and a lively dog
Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s.
Originally from the south-east, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.
George and Henry’s Story
The Captain and The Cricketer
When an uptight countryside vet and a sexy TV star meet on the cricket pitch, they’re both knocked for six!
Henry Fitzwalter is a solid sort of chap. A respectable rural vet and no stranger to tweed, he is the lonely inhabitant of crumbling Longley Parva Manor.
Captain George Standish-Brookes is everyone’s favorite shirtless TV historian. Heroic, handsome and well-traveled, he is coming home to the village where he grew up.
Henry and George’s teenage friendship was shattered by the theft of a cup, the prize in a hard-fought, very British game of cricket. When they resolve their differences thanks to an abandoned foal, it’s only a matter of time before idyllic Longley Parva witnesses one of its wildest romances, between a most unlikely couple of fellows.
Yet with a golf-loving American billionaire and a money-hungry banker threatening this terribly traditional little corner of Sussex, there’s more than love at stake. A comedy of cricket, coupling and criminality, with a splash of scandal!
You can pre-order their story now at Amazon.