I’m delighted to welcome Chris Penhall to the blog today. She’s sharing #TenThings she’d like her readers to know about her and it’s a fabulously entertaining mix! Her latest book, Finding Summer Happiness, was published by Ruby Fiction last week – details of how to get yourself a copy are below. Over to Chris!
I’ve had great fun coming up with ten things. Once I got going I could have listed a lot more!
1. I was born in Neath in South Wales and moved to Essex when I was 6. Then we moved back to Wales when I was 14. My memories of family days out at the beach on the Welsh coast, whether when we lived there, or on one of our many visits back, are vivid and sun-drenched (I’ve edited out the rain) and I’ve enjoyed revisiting them in my imagination for Finding Summer Happiness.
2. I was Pudsey Bear’s helper for BBC Essex’s contribution to Children in Need for many years. Sometimes I was just walking around with him and sometimes I was on air talking to fundraisers at all sorts of events. Oh, the stories I have! For instance, I was in a toy parade in Southend with Pudsey a few years ago, which I’ll never forget, and I’ve also been a small part of many a Christmas lights switch on. I also did the commentary on a world record attempt for the most high fives in a minute at a school in the county. Pudsey ran beside the man who was trying to break the record, I ran after Pudsey … I think there was a local MP there too.
Thinking about it, maybe that why I thought it would be a good idea to have a Look-Alike Festival in the book ….
3. I love social salsa dancing. I am small so have a low centre of gravity and therefore am quite good at spinning. Apart from that I’m more enthusiastic than talented.
4. I have walked some sections of the gorgeous Pembrokeshire Coastal Path with friends and would love to see more. The landscape of that part of the Welsh coast captivated me and that’s why I set Finding Summer Happiness there. I did five days of the trail over about three years; my friends did most of it over the same time frame. I did manage to get in the celebratory ‘end of walk’ photo taken in St Dogmaels as it changes into the Ceredigion coast path, so it looks like I did most of it too …
5. I have a free-standing hammock pod in my garden and I feel so relaxed when I’m in it that If I could I’d probably sleep in it overnight.
6. I lived in Cascais near Lisbon many years ago when my daughters were tiny and completely fell in love with it. My first two novels, The House That Alice Built and New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun were almost love letters to this gorgeous place that changed my life and is where I first started to write.
7. I love ‘singing’ karaoke in booths with my friends. My go to song is ‘It’s Not Unusual’. Once again, enthusiastic but not good. At all. And I did once take part in a BBC Essex Children in Need karaoke challenge at a Chelmsford Christmas lights switch on event. I was in a three- person group called Dave Monk and the Bad Habits and we ‘sang’ ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’. We formed the week before and disbanded immediately after our performance. The usual rock and roll story. I found out afterwards there were about 12,000 people there. They didn’t come to see us, I hasten to add – we were a very minor part of the entertainment. And it was all for charity.
8. One day I will write a screenplay about that weekend in Marrakesh.
9. Talking of screenplays, I’d love all my books to be made into films. Just putting it out there!
10. The house Miriam rents in Finding Summer Happiness has a wonderful view of the coastline which is almost on her doorstep. This is partly inspired on a room I rented in a house on a hill in Sketty when I was at university in Swansea. The big bay window had an uninterrupted view of the sea and Mumbles Head in the distance, and I was lucky enough to have an ever-changing landscape right in front of me. Constantly, actually, as the room didn’t have any curtains.
Finding Summer Happiness by Chris Penhall
You won’t find happiness without breaking a few eggs …
Miriam Ryan was the MD of a successful events and catering company, but these days even the thought of chopping an onion sends her stress levels sky rocketing. A retreat to the Welsh village of her childhood holidays seems to offer the escape she’s craving – just peace, quiet, no people, a generous supply of ready meals … did she mention no people?
Enter a cheery pub landlord, a lovesick letting agent, a grumpy astronomer with a fridge raiding habit – not to mention a surprise supper club that requires the chopping of many onions – and Miriam realises her escape has turned into exactly what she was trying to get away from, but could that be just the thing she needs to allow a little bit of summer happiness into her life?
About Chris Penhall
Chris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Her short story, Lily McKee’s Seven Days of Christmas appears in Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction’s Cosy Christmas Treats anthology.
Her new novel, Finding Summer Happiness is is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales.
Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio. She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!
Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it!
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.
You can find more information about her on http://www.chrispenhall.co.uk or follow her on twitter: @ChrisPenhall