Today I’m delighted to feature author Jennifer Page. Her debut novel The Little Board Game Cafe, a light-hearted, cosy romance was published this week.
Jennifer lives near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire with her husband Hermi and his large collection of board games. Her debut novel was initially inspired by her own dating adventures. Before she met Hermi, she was single for 13 years and had pretty much given up on meeting The One.
When she isn’t writing, Jennifer can usually be found playing board games. She also loves cooking (though she’d never claim to be any good at it!), caravan holidays and walking in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside.
Over to Jennifer:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Music has been a huge part of my life. I’d start with ‘Annie’s Song’, played by the wonderful Irish flautist James Galway because I heard this on the radio when I was 8 and asked my parents if I could learn to play the flute. I went on to become a music teacher.
I left teaching when I was about thirty and went to work in TV production at the BBC. My two careers combined when I was asked to work on Songs of Praise and I produced several episodes over the years. The piece of music I’d choose from this period is ‘Mary Did You Know?’ sung by the wonderful quartet Tessera in a friend’s programme. It’s such a moving song.
My third piece would be Chi il bel sogno di Doretta by Puccini for three reasons: it reminds me of a brief period in my life where I directed several operas; it features in one of my favourite films, A Room With A View; and it’s heartachingly beautiful.
I love ballet as well as opera. It’s hard to choose a favourite; I’d probably have to go with The Nutcracker as it’s the first ballet I saw as a child.
Finally, my late father loved Paul Robeson so I’d choose ‘Ol’ Man River’ as it reminds me of Dad.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
My slow cooker! I bung stuff in in the morning and it looks most unpromising, then several hours later, there’s a delicious stew or curry or lentil ragu (my husband is veggie).
Books – obviously – and I’ve recently got into audiobooks. I love drifting off to sleep listening to a story; I suppose it reminds me of being a child and my mum reading me a bedtime story.
Board games. I enjoyed board games as a child and occasionally as an adult, but when I met my husband, he introduced me to a whole new world of different ones. Now I love them (almost) as much as he does. Barely a day goes by when we don’t play a game.
Television is definitely one of my five, as I’ve devoted many happy years of my life to making programmes and I enjoy watching them too. The Apprentice is a favourite, along with detective series like Happy Valley, Unforgotten and Vera.
We started caravanning last summer and I love our tiny caravan. It’s the best of both worlds: I get to go on holiday and explore a new area, but sleep in my own bed at night. We stay on small campsites – often just a farmer’s field with a tap for water – and I love the peace and quiet.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Don’t be afraid of failure. I’ve missed out on a few big opportunities over the years, things I didn’t say yes to because I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough. At one point, I nearly turned down the publishing deal for that very reason.
Be open-minded. I was single for a long time and had a fixed idea of the type of man I was looking for. As soon as I let that go, I met my husband and he’s wonderful. Nothing like what I thought I wanted, but far, far more suited to me.
It isn’t worth worrying about things that probably won’t happen. (Sadly, I still do this!)
When it comes to friendships, quality is definitely better than quantity.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not. I’m never going to be one of those people who has manicured nails, the perfect outfit and hair that does what it’s supposed to. I’ll never be good at making small talk at parties, and I’ll always put my foot in things occasionally and that’s okay. That’s just who I am.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I went to New York to meet Dolly Parton. The video below is one I directed of Dolly singing John Lennon’s Imagine.
I’ve been down the enormous pot-hole Gaping Gill in North Yorkshire and that’s inspired a scene in my second novel.
We spent our honeymoon on a wildlife holiday in Poland hoping to see bison; the closest we got was a large pile of steaming poo.
I climbed Helvellyn when I was 8 but only because my parents bribed me with the promise of a china pony.
Before I met my husband, I lived on a boat near Thames Lock in West London.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
I’d like my writing career to continue. I’m realistic – I’m not expecting to become a best-selling author or anything like that but I would like my books to sell well enough that my publisher would like me to write more as writing has become such an important part of my life.
I’d also like to write a children’s book – I’ve had the plot for one in my head for years and years and it would be great to see that become a reality one day.
I would like to learn another language. German perhaps, as I love Germany and used to live there but only speak it to a basic level, or Polish because that’s my husband’s mother tongue.
I’d love to see the Northern Lights. Perhaps from Iceland or maybe Shetland as we could go there in our caravan.
I’d like to take up wild swimming. I did try this shortly before the pandemic; the swimming was great but I unfortunately fell and broke my wrist on the walk home and have never tried it again.
Many thanks for joining me Jennifer, I feel sure we’d get on if we ever met, though I’m also not good with small talk, so we’ll have to bond over a board game. When I first met my other half, we used to play board games but somehow life seemed to get in the way and we stopped finding the time. We keep saying we should start again, maybe this will kick start it. I once attempted Helvellyn, not by choice, but on a school field trip. I panicked at Striding Edge and had to go back down. I hope Dolly Parton was as nice as she seems when you met her, I’d hate to have her image shattered. I’m sure she was lovely, I really hope so. I’m pleased to see you’ve mastered your slow cooker. I had an old fashioned one that I was fine with, but we recently bought an all singing and dancing one which also features a pressure cooker and I’m too scared to play with it! Here’s hoping you get to tick off the items on your to-do list, good luck with the languages, that’s something I still struggle to get to grips with. I’m sure the writing will continue and I really hope that The Board Game Cafe is a great success for you.
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The Little Board Game Cafe
An irresistible story of love, friendship and the power of Games Night, perfect for fans of Holly Martin and Christie Barlow.
When Emily loses her job, house and boyfriend all within a matter of days, she’s determined to turn a negative into a positive and follow her dream of running a small cafe in the gorgeous Yorkshire village of Essendale.
But she quickly finds she’s bitten off more than she can chew when the ‘popular’ cafe she takes over turns out to secretly be a failing business. Emily desperately needs a way to turn things around, and help comes from the unlikeliest of places when she meets local board game-obsessed GP Ludek. But when a major chain coffee shop opens on the high street, Emily is forced to question if she’ll ever be able to compete.
Has she risked everything on something destined to fail? Or can a playful twist, a homely welcome, and a sprinkle of love make Emily’s cafe the destination she’s always dreamed of?
Some great music choices there! I play the flute too but not terribly well 😊
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A great achievement, however you play it. Learning an instrument is never easy x
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Mary Did You Know is a favourite of mine as well. I just read a really good review of The Little Board Game Cafe and added it to my TBR shelf. Quite a coincidence.
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I’ve bought The Little Board Game Cafe as it sounds just my thing. x
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