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Five minutes with Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan reveals how she combines her great loves – writing and baking – with family life.


ColganJenny-Charlie-HopkinsonHer books strike a chord because they have an inherent sense of reality ­– recognizing that life is messy.

Jenny’s plots are built around real-life scenarios with all the good and bad traits of human nature coming through in equal measure.

To date she has written nearly 20 novels, including Christmas at the Cupcake Café and The Little Beach Street Bakery.

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café won the 2012 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance and was a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller, as was Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams, which won the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2013.

Jenny talks to Mary Hogarth about writing, interacting with her audience and writers that inspire her.


How did you become a writer?

I left college and got a job in a hospital, but always wanted to be doing something more creative.  I always thought of myself as a comedienne if you like, someone who did funny stuff, so I tried stand up.

It was so hard and I didn’t really have the performance skills. That is a polite way of saying I was awful.

After that came cartooning, sketch writing, then I wrote a novel. Before becoming an author I tried everything creative I could think of and – like anyone else – I heard ‘no’ a lot.

Finally at last somebody said yes to my first novel. I wasn’t much use to the NHS, that’s for sure. 


Christmas-Surprise-pbkTell us about your writing routine?

I write about 2,500 words a day. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

It was 1,000 words for years. I just got more efficient when I started having children. 



Where do you write?

Anywhere. Cafes, planes and trains, airports, in the car parked in a layby, in our local garden centre or waiting for my kids tutoring to finish.

Once when I was near to deadline I finished a book in the last row of a cinema. Where I am doesn’t matter at all.

Although I particularly like cafes because they bring you sandwiches. 


Why put recipes in your novels?

Well I moved to France when I had children and you have to learn to cook there, everybody does.

Plus as I had three children under five, I never left the house. So I’d potter about the kitchen and basically learned how to do it. Then I thought it might be fun to share what I’d learned, and some really simple recipes.

If you don’t like the recipes you can ignore them, but if you do, well, it’s really fun to see what people make – they often send me pictures


Favourite three authors?

Douglas Adams, Jon Krakaeur and George Eliot. 


Whose work inspires you the most?

Loads of writers inspire me. Sci-fi and children’s writers inspire me because they are so productive.

Douglas Adams was a huge influence because he’s so brilliantly funny. Marian Keyes as she just tells it like it is and Rose George for writing about whatever she likes.

I am also inspired by Jon Ronson as he is such a beautiful stylist, Steven Moffat who is so clever and LM Montgomery because she’s so warm. 


A preview of Jenny’s latest book The Christmas Surprise

Rosie Hopkins, newly engaged, is looking forward to an exciting year in the little sweetshop she owns and runs.

But when fate strikes Rosie and her boyfriend, Stephen, a terrible blow, threatening everything they hold dear, it’s going to take all their strength and the support of their families and their Lipton friends to hold them together. . .


The Christmas Surprise the standalone sequel to the bestselling Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop series is available online and in stores priced £7.99.

For more details about her books, life and recipes visit

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