Friday, 29 April 2016

My favourites! Or, more about me.

By this point you probably know more about my experience as an aspiring author than you do about me, the author. That’s mainly because that is my intention for this blog. Occasionally, I include a post that is somewhat random, something that has little or no relation to my novel, but only because it’s something I wanted to share. This blog is predominantly about my novel Gifted, but in case some of you are interested in the author behind the book (although I have to say, the book is more interesting), here are a few of my favourites and the things I like. The reason I made this post about the things I like rather than things about me is for two reasons. Number one, I’ve already made a post about me, and it’s imaginatively titled, About Me. Secondly, I think it’s easier to get to know a person based on what they like. By the way, me liking writing is a given and I'm assuming does not need mentioning!

Let’s begin with the most important meal of the day – breakfast! My favourite breakfast is without a doubt, two freshly-made plain croissants or a toasted bagel with butter or cream cheese, and a large cup of green tea.

Funny fact, I used to hate green tea. I only started drinking it last year because I read about the positive effects it has on your…toilet routine, if you catch my drift. So I brought a pack and my first sip almost made me spit it back out. The taste was so medicinal that it made me nauseous. But it did the trick…toilet wise…and I returned to it again. But I couldn’t drink it on its own; I’d have it with a piece of toast slathered in jam or alongside my pancakes. Now, because I’ve had it so regularly now, I quite enjoy the taste and can easily drink a full cup without any sugary, tasty assistance. I only have it with croissants or bagels to make it into an actual breakfast!

I like to read. Correction, I love to read.

I know that may seem obvious because I’m a writer, or even a little cliché, but every writer loves to read, they must, otherwise where does their passion to write a book stem from? I’ve been reading since as long as I can remember; there is nothing better than a good book. You get to experience another life and life is too short already to live just one. Only recently have I branched out of the YA world and I’ve never enjoyed an experience more. I had no idea such amazing books existed by authors I’d never heard of! It all started when I was working as a Christmas temp at Waterstones. When I worked there, staff members got a 50% discount on all books in store. YOU HEARD ME RIGHT! 50%! As if working in a shop where you were surrounded by books wasn’t awesome enough, they throw in half price books. I was only there for a short time, but I used my discount card as much as my bank balance would allow! My book-loving friends also made good use of this discount card; their Waterstones bill came up to over £200 in one shop!

One day, I walked into work, already planning my break where I would head off in search of books by my favourite authors at that moment, Jenny Colgan, Lindsey Kelk and Sophie Kinsella. During my working hours before that break, my colleagues and I were talking about recent books they’ve read and their knowledge concerning books was astonishing. One of my colleagues in particular has read SO many books, I think he read eighty or ninety in ONE year. His book knowledge was so extensive that literally any book a customer would ask for, not only does he know where it is, he’s read it. From science-fiction to gardening! I called him my Google because he could surpass the search engine when recommending books. Hearing how much my colleagues read made me think, wow, I thought I loved to read! But are you a real book lover if you only stick to one particular genre? There’s nothing wrong at all with having a favourite genre, but I suppose the joy of reading is experiencing other genres too. So instead of buying the latest Kelk, Kinsella or Colgan (although I did purchase them later on – nothing wrong with their books!) I went for books written by authors I’d never read.  I picked up The Cather in the Rye, One Thousand Splendid Suns, The Alchemist, The Santa Klaus Murder, The Miniaturist, Me Before You and many more. Thanks to that sudden decision, I found my favourite book of all time (so far) One Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. If you haven’t read it, you should.

Despite my favourite book being One Thousand Splendid Suns, my favourite author is actually Roald Dahl. He was the author who got me into reading in the first place and if I hadn’t started reading, would I have started writing? Definitely not since the only reason I started writing was because I wanted something to read. How strange that I owe a lot to a man I’ve never met before and will, unfortunately, never have the privilege to meet. The reason I can easily claim that he is my favourite author is because there is not one book of his that I have read that I didn’t enjoy, and I’ve read more of his books than I have any other author. Roald Dahl is an imaginative genius and it still pains me to this day that I’ll never be able to meet a man whose imagination is simply legendary, but he lives on through his books, and that serves me just fine. In case you were wondering, my favourite book of his is George’s Marvellous Medicine.

My favourite food is pizza. I’m a food fiend. I love to cook and although it’s incredibly difficult and sometimes impossible to say no to a baked good, pizza can never be turned down. I don’t know what it is about pizza, but my goodness is it delicious. There’s a Turkish restaurant near my university called Istanbul, and a friend of mine and I are always there, once a week after a long day at university to treat ourselves, and although we do love to go through the menu and try something new every now and again, more often than not, we order their lamb pizza. Pizza my friend eats in an odd fashion.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Urm…excuse me, the best pizza in the world has to be made by an Italian! Well, maybe the best pizza in the world is made by an Italian, but this lamb pizza (actually called Kebab Della if you’re in the neighbourhood and looking for a good pizza) made by a Turkish man is the best pizza I’ve had so far, but I’m yet to visit Naples, so I’ll keep the title of best pizza in reserve. There, happy now? But in case you're looking for a good Italian restaurant in Sheffield, try Zizzi’s!

I love watching movies.

Going to the cinema with my friends is one of my favourite things to do. What could be better than laughing along to a comedy, crying in sad movie (although I’ve only cried in one movie – Les Miserables) or complaining about a boring one with the people you love?

Maybe going out to dinner afterwards to discuss the movie further and if it was really good and part of a series, plan to watch the next one together as well. I have a tradition with my friend Eve, that any Marvel or DC movie that comes out, we watch it together. We can watch it a second time with other people or in a larger group, but the first viewing is just her and me, and it’s been this way for I think, four years now. Ever since we made plans with a few of our other friends to watch Avengers Assemble, but because it came out the day before our English Literature exam, our friends all bailed out and even I faltered, but Eve said, “No, Jess! We’re going!” We went and it was awesome! I was never into action or superhero movies before and Avengers Assemble kicked it off. Since then, Eve and I have watched numerous films together as part of our tradition, including Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, The Amazing Spider-man 2, Avengers Assemble, Avengers: Age of Ultron, X-men: Days of Future Past, The Wolverine, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3 and perhaps more I can’t remember. We’ve watched a lot more films together, but superhero films are the only films we watch just the two of us, and it’s a lovely tradition.

I love to bake. I’ve always enjoyed eating baked goods, so I dabbled in a few things when I was still living at home. The usual cupcakes, cookies and jam tarts, but my love for baking really hit a high point when I moved to university in Sheffield.

It started one evening when I was in my room watching a baking TV show and I heard a knock on my door before my roommate Sanj walked in. Now, she was meant to be at work until midnight and I think it was seven or eight in the evening.

“What are you doing home so early?” I asked.

“I walked out,” Sanj replied as she took a seat at my desk.

(My novel Gifted’s dialogue is a lot better than that, I promise!)

Long story short, Sanj worked in a local supermarket type shop a minute’s walk from our accommodation. Her boss wasn’t in, just a fellow colleague and the store was bereft of customers; all the stock was tidied and put away and she had literally nothing to do. So she called her manager and asked if she could leave, as you do. He didn’t technically say yes, but she left nonetheless and never returned. It was that evening she asked if I could make her lava cake. Now, I jumped at the chance because baking for myself was getting old real quick. She then went to buy the ingredients from Sainsbury’s and I made her lava cake. It was delicious, but I didn’t know you were meant to let it sit for a while once out of the oven to make it easier for the cake to slip out of the ramekin, so we had a few disasters, but I made her so many lava cakes during that year, I’ve now mastered it.

Sanj was my willing guinea pig and so with her my baking passion developed and I moved onto brownies, cookies, lemon cake, pizza’s, bread, jam, banana bread, cupcakes, muffins, granola bars etc. I’d usually bake before we settled in for a few episodes of The Flash and Arrow. I really do have a thing for the superhero genre…

I even make my own strawberry jam! In Sheffield, there’s this indoor market called The Moor. They sell the freshest, cheapest Strawberries! It’s like 50p for a punnet! When they’re in season of course.

And when they’re in season, I stock up, make jars of strawberry jam and hand them out to my friends!

Okay, this is becoming quite a long blog post; your attention must be waning. However, I have a few more things to add to this list, so look out for part two!

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