The Paradise Cookery School of St Lucia – Daisy James
With all this lovely sunshine we’re having at the moment, Daisy has invited us all on a tour of #StLucia this weekend. There’s also a holiday treat to be won…read on to find out more…
Let’s travel to The Paradise Cookery School…
The Paradise Cookery School series is set on the spectacular Caribbean island of St Lucia. In the first book – Sunshine & Secrets – we join Millie Harper as she attempts to oversee the renovations of a dilapidated villa situated on a disused cocoa plantation, high on the hillside overlooking the town of Soufrière in the south of the island, before a group of chocolate-loving wedding guests descend for a week’s tutorial.
Not only is Millie in charge of making sure the laid-back builders install the kitchen sink in the right place and the precious Italian marble units don’t get cracked, she is also responsible, along with her friend and Caribbean chef extraordinaire Ella Johnson, for triple-testing every recipe that will feature on the course which turns out to be a massive undertaking.
The second book – Confetti & Confusion – catches up with Millie and Ella as they bake up a culinary storm on the Chocolate & Confetti course for a bride-to-be who adores all things cocoa related. However, as can be the way with weddings at home and in paradise, things don’t always go according to plan.
I loved writing the series. It meant I got to spend every day immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the Caribbean – a real feast for the senses. The setting was so central to the story that it actually became a character in its own right so I had to make sure I put just as much work into its creation as I did for my human characters. It certainly was no chore! Every time I sat down at my keyboard, I would spend a few minutes enjoying the gallery of photographs I’d collected of the place the cookery school was situated, high up on a hillside overlooking the Pitons and the town of Soufrière in the south of the island.
I probably spent more time than was strictly necessary on research! The island is stunningly picturesque. With the glistening Caribbean Sea, the white sandy beaches and palm trees swaying in the breeze – it’s certainly my idea of paradise. Who wouldn’t want to relax on a sun lounger, next to a sparkling pool with a rum cocktail in one hand and a good book in the other?
And what about the fabulous music? No novel set in the Caribbean is complete without a backing track of reggae and calypsos rippling through the story. I just love this kind of music! Every time I listened to a St Lucian steel band I can’t help smiling and my spirits edge up a notch – it’s just such a happy sound that makes me want to put on my dancing shoes and pick up my maracas. Add to that the squawk of brightly coloured parrots and the crash of the waves on the beach and you are truly listening to the soundtrack of paradise.
I don’t know about you, but I feel much happier when the sun shines. I’m a confirmed sun worshipper so to wake up every morning knowing that the day ahead will be filled with brilliant blue skies, a warm breeze, and a gentle stroll on the beach for a rum cocktail or two is my idea of heaven. Of course, we can’t be on holiday fifty-two weeks a year, so a story set in an exotic location can, for a few hours at least, transport us to that place and bring a smile to our faces.
Of course, as the story takes place in a cookery school there’s no escaping the wonderful fragrances and tastes of the food and drink available on the island. From every kind of fresh seafood imaginable – red snapper, grouper, conch – to the diverse range of exotic fruit and vegetables – papaya, breadfruit, guava – to the wide availability of spices that are grown on the island – nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice berries – there’s something to tempt every palette. When I was writing Confetti & Confusion I spent quite a bit of time testing the recipes that I wanted to include in the story which focussed on a chocolate-themed course. One of my favourites was chilli and chocolate brownies which really sent the taste buds tingling – delicious!
For me, focussing on the setting, building it up to be just as important to the story as any of the other characters really helps to bring a book to life. Providing the details, evoking every one of the senses, helps to really immerse the reader in the reality of the story, providing a multi-dimensional experience.
St Lucia is certainly on my bucket list! Maybe next year…..
To Win a Ebook copy of each (Sunshine & Secrets and Confetti & Confusion PLUS a few little treats) Click here to enter
BookTrail Boarding Pass: Daisy James