Friday, 23 March 2012

Interview with Ros Clark + Giveaway

I love delicious meals. I love preparing them just as much as devouring them. My love for culinary pleasures is no secret, I am proud of it as my Sunday Treats feature and my bio over at Book Lovers Inc. proves. And then there are books which combine my love for a sizzling romance and tastebud titillating experience in a unique and exciting mix. Such treat is Table for One, and I am very happy today to welcome its author Ros Clarke to the blog and ask her some of my most pressing and of course food related questions. Join us for the ride to learn more about Ros and her characters and you could also win a copy of Table for One! (Just a warning: don't read this post if you're hungry, all the food talk and delicious photos will make you suffer ;-)

Stella: Hi Ros, welcome to Ex Libris! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Ros: Hi Stella and thanks for inviting me!

I’m Ros and I’m a writer. That still feels like a very weird thing to say since I’ve only been published since December 2011. In the rest of my time, I’m a PhD student and a church worker. I live in England, in a tiny cottage in the country with roses growing outside the back door. I spend far too much time knitting, sewing, spinning and watching daytime TV.

Stella: Your latest novel Table for One is a short and deliciously succulent read, can you tell readers what they can expect of it?

Ros: They can expect a fun, sexy romance with lots and lots of fabulous food. Seriously, don’t read it on a diet. Or you know, read it if you’re on a diet because it doesn’t contain any actual calories!

Stella: Ward is a ruggedly handsome chef who besides being cover model-like gorgeous is an incredibly sensual and creative man in the kitchen while the heroine Claudia is a food critic, could you tell readers a bit about them to pique their interest?

Ward on Claudia: She’s bossy, mouthy, can’t cook and she’s sometimes economical with the truth at completely the wrong moment. But she’s also incredibly sexy, knows how to appreciate good food, and she’s very fun to tease. Oh, and did I mention sexy?

Claudia on Ward: He’s a genius. In the kitchen and the bedroom. And the sitting room and the bathroom. And one memorable time on the stairs, though my back didn’t appreciate that the next day. But seriously, he’s a brilliant, brilliant chef. His bacon sandwich is to die for. Oh, and he does these little chocolate wafers that just melt on your tongue.

Ward: See what I mean about mouthy?

Claudia: She wanted to know what I think about you. It’s difficult to be brief.

Ward: I managed it.

Claudia: To be honest, I thought your attempt was a bit half-hearted. Couldn’t you have told her about my brilliant journalistic career?

Ward: I’m trying to forget that.

Claudia: You’re supposed to be coming to terms with it.

Ward: I’ll need a little more help with that.

Claudia: What sort of help?

Ward: The sort that happens in the kitchen, the bedroom, the sitting room and the bathroom. Thanks for sharing that with everyone, by the way.

Claudia: She wanted to know about you!

Ward: She didn’t need to know the details of our sex life.

Claudia: I didn’t mention our sex life. I was talking about your cooking.

Ward: Economical with the truth. Told you so.

Stella: Table for One is extremely short, what were the hardships/challenges of telling a story in only 52 pages? Why did you choose to write with such length limitations?

Ros: I meant it to be longer! I knew Entangled were looking for Valentine’s stories for their Ever After line which is 20-40,000 words. But Table for One ended up at 11,000. I always write short. I think it’s my academic training that’s so used to editing out all extraneous words. I like short stories because you can focus on one scene and one point of conflict and they don’t require any complicated plotting!

Stella: Do you have a favourite scene in Table for One? (Or which one was the hardest to write?)

Ros: I loved writing all the foodie scenes, but especially the first one in the restaurant where Ward is seducing Claudia with his menu. I had so much fun thinking about how the food would taste and feel. It was a great way to have her fall for him practically before she’d met him.

Stella: Did you do any research for Table for One? Any good restaurant visits, discovered any new favourite meals? :-)

Ros: Sadly, my budget doesn’t quite run to eating in restaurants like Ward’s! I did a lot of searching online and I was very inspired by Heston Blumenthal who is an extraordinarily experimental chef. I would love to have the chance to eat in his restaurant, The Fat Duck, one day. None of the dishes in Table for One are copied exactly from any of the menus I looked at, but it was good to get the inspiration. I’d love to try and recreate the caramelised kumquats with vanilla cream one day. And I’m still working on the perfect bacon sandwich!

Stella: The way you wrote the scenes involving food, tasting and eating not only made my mouth water but gave me goosebumps, it is clear you have a deep appreciation for delicious treats, what is a favourite meal of yours?

Ros: I have so many favourite meals, depending on my mood! I do like to try new and different things but I still love the old favourites, too. Probably top of my list would be rare roast beef, served with roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings and horseradish sauce. Followed by something wickedly chocolately and gooey. I do genuinely love eating. I enjoy the way that textures, flavours, scents and colours combine in the whole experience. I think it’s sad when food is reduced to simply function and fuel, or when people have begun to think of food as the enemy in the search for health and/or physical beauty.

Stella: Do you cook? Any special recipe you could share with us?

Ros: I do cook, though not as much as I used to, but I’m very bad with recipes. Mostly I just make it up as I go along. One recipe I have been enjoying a lot recently is the Magic No-Knead Bread:

12 oz strong flour (can be white, wholemeal, spelt, etc. as you choose)
1 sachet easy-blend dried yeast
pinch of salt
125 ml warm water

Put it all into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. The dough will be quite sticky. Then cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm place overnight.

Put a cast-iron lidded casserole dish into the oven and heat to 220°C for about 40 minutes. Remove casserole, scrape dough into the dish, replace the lid and put back into the oven. After 30 minutes remove the lid. Cook for a further 30 minutes until done.

Leave to cool for as long as you can resist, before slicing, slathering with butter and eating.

Stella: Can you share with us one of your most memorable food memories? (I ate the most perfect crème brulée at Azay-le-Rideau when we were visiting the châteaux of the valley of the Loire, whenever I see a crème brulée, flan or crème caramel on a menu I can’t help but recall that taste orgasm! :-)

Ros: Mmmm, crème brulée. Sorry, what was the question?

Oh, yes. Food memories. I ate cactus once. That was less exciting than you’d expect, to be honest. I lived in Philadelphia for a couple of years and had an amazing meal at Fogo de Chao. You get two courses: salad from a truly incredible salad bar, and meat. They bring the meat round continuously and carve it at the table straight onto your plate. There are side dishes to go with it – and the polenta was the best I’ve ever had – but the meal is all about the meat, and it is SO GOOD. Admittedly, after a meal there you don’t need to eat for a week, but it’s so worth it. In fact, I might need to go back…

Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule?

Ros: I have an Indulgence coming out from Entangled in May featuring a gorgeously sexy sheikh and a Scottish oil executive. I’m hoping to have another short story out for the summer and I have plans for an Indulgence later in the year too, hopefully. So I’ll be busy!

Table For One by Ros Clarke

Table For One is a short, contemporary romance from Entangled Publishing's exciting new Flirts line.

When food critic Claudia Thomas gets dumped on Valentine’s Day, she finds herself occupying a table for one at London’s hottest new restaurant. If her job wasn’t on the line, she’d skip the whole affair, but her editor’s waiting for a review—and with luck, an interview with sexy chef Ward Nicholls.

Ward, intrigued by the single woman in a restaurant full of couples, sets out to tease her palate. Claudia has never tasted anything so luscious as the special meal Ward prepares for her, but when the seduction moves from the restaurant to his bedroom, Claudia discovers the only thing more tempting than his food is the chef himself.

Their connection is instantaneous, sizzling, and spicy—until Claudia comes clean about her job, reopening a wound Ward had thought long-healed. Could one accidental lie of omission end a delicious relationship before it even has a chance to start?

More details and an excerpt are available here.

Buy it at Amazon (US), B&N, Amazon (UK)

Ros is a writer, a student, a church worker, a crafter, a blogger, a twitterer, a lazy gardener, and an appalling housekeeper. She lives in a sixteenth century shed in England and is very glad that it has twenty-first century plumbing. She is interested in almost everything except cricket and football (US and UK) and mostly she likes happy endings in fiction and in real life.

Ros has been writing stories for as long as she can remember, never dreaming that other people would be interested in reading them. A few years ago, she discovered a writing forum on the internet, and has never looked back. Her head—and her hard drive—are full of ideas for fresh, fun, contemporary romances that she hopes you’ll love as much as she does.

You can also find Ros on Twitter, at Goodreads, on Pinterest, and at her own blog. Come and say hi!


Entangled Publishinhg has generously offered an ebook copy of Table for One to a lucky commenter!

All you have to do is

1) leave a comment and answer Ros' question and tell us: What was the most romantic meal you ahve ever had?

2) leave me a way to contact you (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway ends on 30 March 2012 and is open worldwide!

Good luck!

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