Q and A
1. What inspired you to write about a Board Game Cafe?
My initial foray into writing was inspired by my ‘adventures’ on dating apps. I did internet dating for 13 years after getting divorced aged 34. It was really tough – it’s a cliché to use the words emotional roller coaster, but it was. I had some disastrous dates. They weren’t funny at the time – I was always gutted that yet again, the man sitting in front of me was clearly not The One – but afterwards, my friends and I would laugh about them and they’d always say, ‘You should write a book about all this.’
When I eventually did meet The One, he came with baggage. Not emotional baggage, but board games baggage. A very large collection that he’d begun amassing as a teenager. It’s a real passion for him. Up until that point, I’d enjoyed the odd game of Scrabble, and had even ventured along to a couple of board games evenings at a local pub, but I’d never heard of any of the games in his collection. Luckily, we soon discovered that I liked them as much as he did. (Well, almost! I must admit I wish they didn’t take up every square inch in our house!)
I started writing fiction during the Covid-19 pandemic when I joined an online writing course with the brilliant writer and tutor, Sophie McKenzie. My mum had lent me some of her Jenny Colgan collection and the main characters always seemed to be running cafes and bakeries and I thought it might be fun if my main character ran a board game café. I also wanted the love interest in the book to be a geeky boardgamer, because geeky boardgamers, I’ve discovered, make wonderful boyfriends and husbands. (At least, my one has!) And initially, the novel was a lot more focused on dating and included some fictionalised accounts from my own dating adventures.
2. If you could play a board game with anyone (up to 3) past or present. Who would you choose and what would you play?
Love this question! My dad. He sadly died a few months after I met Hermi (my husband) and just two weeks before our wedding. Dad wasn’t in the best of health in that last year so never got to see any of Hermi’s games, but he loved chess and draughts and I’m sure he’d have really enjoyed the tactics of the games we now play. I’d choose Hermi too. We play games together most days and he almost always beats me, but he’s still my favourite opponent. And a third player? I’d choose Mo Farrar. I’m not into sport at all, but my dad was a huge fan of Mo’s and I’d love to see the look on his face if he got to meet his favourite athlete. He’d be made up!
3. In your down time, how do you give yourself self Care?
I write. I’ve used writing as a kind of therapy over the years, long before I began writing fiction. I have a huge stack of diaries into which I’ve poured my innermost feelings. I began about twenty years ago when I came across Julia Cameron’s wonderful book, The Artist’s Way. She advocates doing ‘morning pages’ every single day; you just write whatever comes into your mind without worrying whether it’s any good or makes sense. I find writing in a diary can be like talking to a close friend; you get things off your chest without fear of judgment.
In more recent years, I trained as a hypnotherapist. I qualified, but have never practised professionally. I find hypnotherapy very helpful and can hypnotise myself. (I record myself then listen to it back!) It’s very calming and has helped me change unhelpful patterns of thinking.
If I’m feeling down or stressed, I find exercise really helpful too. Where we live, we’re surrounded by acres of beautiful countryside. At this time of year, it’s particularly lovely to go for a walk as the birds are singing and there are new lambs in the fields. I find connecting with nature is very soothing.
4. In real life, what kind of Cafe/ eatery do you like visiting? Why and who with?
Don’t make me choose! I love food and I love eating out. I really missed that during the pandemic. I often meet friends in Uppermill which is the loveliest village close to the Peak District. Our favourite place there is Café Abaco as it has a lovely outside seating area (I’m immuno-suppressed so feel more comfortable sitting outside), great coffee, tasty food and the staff are fantastic. Another favourite place is the White Lion pub in Hebden Bridge. They serve the best pies ever (and I consider myself a bit of a pie connoisseur). The only problem with it is which pie to choose: three cheese or steak and ale?
Whilst we’re on the subject of food, a little aside about my dad. The dishes I describe in The Little Board Game Café like the chicken soup and Lancashire hotpot were dishes he cooked for me as a child and they were wonderful. When I want to remember my dad, I cook one of those dishes. The smell takes me right back to my childhood and reminds me much more of him than looking at a photo ever could. Unlike Emily’s mum, my mum doesn’t like cooking at all, but she did teach me to read before I started school.
5. What’s the best book you have read in the last 6 months and why is it the best?
Again, don’t make me choose. I’ve read some really amazing books recently, books that made me realise I have to keep working to elevate my own writing and improve my skills. One that really stood out is Becoming Ted by Matt Cain. I just loved the characters in this book. They felt very real to me – I wished I could meet them in real life. The fictional town where it was set was partly modelled on Southport, which is very near where I grew up and where we’d spend our Saturdays when I was a child. And one of the main characters is Polish; my husband Hermi is from a Polish family so that made me like the book even more. I also loved No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby. It was quirky, different and made me laugh out loud. This was also set on the coast, this time in Hastings, another town I have a soft spot for. Twice a year, Hermi and I spend a week in Hastings playing board games with a large group of friends and it’s a fantastic place. The old town is so quaint and quirky with a lot of independent shops and cafes.
The Little Board Game Café
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?
‘A heart-warming romance perfect for curling up with. I absolutely loved it’ – Kitty Wilson
Author Bio – Jennifer Page wrote her first novel – a book about ponies – when she was eight. These days she prefers to write romance. When she isn’t writing, Jennifer can usually be found playing board games which are the inspiration for her first novel. She has worked as a television producer, a music teacher and has even run a children’s opera company. She now lives near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire with her husband and his large collection of games.
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