Driving through Masham earlier this summer, we made a side trip to the Black Sheep Brewery. This is one of my favourite real ales.
I used to drink real ale exclusively. Nowadays you’re more likely to see me swigging a bottle of Corona or Desperados. Thinking about this, I realise that the characters in my books tend to reflect my drinking habits.
A few examples:
Excerpt from Starting Over:
They crossed over the bridge to the large pub on the corner. Groups of smokers were gathered outside and they had to push their way through to get to the bar inside. Jo immediately saw someone she knew so Robin ordered the drinks. It was a struggle to fight her way back through the crowd to find Jo. The noise levels were already making it impossible to have a conversation without shouting. Handing Jo her bottle of Corona, Robin fought her way back outside. She hadn’t smoked for many years, but now she wished she had a cigarette. At least, as a prop. The first gulps of beer helped calm her nerves.
Excerpt from The Circle Dance:
It was after nine when Sasha got home, exhausted both physically and emotionally. Relaxing with a glass of chilled white wine and maybe a bath was what she really wanted. Instead she would be facing an irate Phoebe.
She made it as far as the kitchen before Phoebe appeared and started wanting answers. “Where the hell have you been? And I know it wasn’t talking to Felix bloody LeMar.”
Sasha opened the fridge and was dismayed to see there was no bottle of wine. She would have to settle for a beer. Luckily there was a Corona nestled between the pasta and the remnants of Sunday’s chicken that she had planned to eat before her evening was derailed by the insane desire to see Jamie.
Excerpt from Running From Love
The cupboard was bare, as was the fridge. Sam took out the lone bottle of Corona and popped the cap. Not even a lemon or lime lurking anywhere. She took a sip and wondered what she was missing. When she spoke to Beth the night before, giving her the flight arrival time, her wife had sounded a bit distant, but nothing that couldn’t be put down to Beth being tired after a full day’s teaching.
My next book, coming out in November, demonstrates the change in my drinking. I wrote the main part of this story in 1993. When I revisited it to see if it could be developed into a novel, I decided it should stay in that time period. So I was interested to note that my main character was necking back London Pride. For those not in the know, this is a real ale brewed at Fuller’s Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, west London.
1992 was the year a friend and I embarked on a Fuller’s sponsored pub crawl. We obtained a passport from the brewery that had to be stamped in each of their pubs we bought a drink in. It took us several outings to realise we didn’t actually have to buy beer to get a stamp. A soft drink would suffice. The passport was divided into sections and after a haphazard start we figured out that by concentrating on one part we would be able to cover enough pubs to qualify for a prize. We completed Area 1, a total of 46 pubs (well, 45 – one was closed)…such dedication.
We did also visit about another 20 pubs in the other two areas but realised we weren’t going to manage the complete 180 in the timescale. Still, a pretty worthy effort, I feel.
The prize was a minipin of London Pride…18 pints. (That more than made up for the soft drinks we’d consumed in order to complete the Area 1 section of the passport.)
I also don’t drink tea. And I’ve noticed that the majority of my characters don’t either. They drink coffee in the morning, preferably unsullied by either sugar or milk.
So although none of my characters are based on me, they do seem to have picked up some of my drinking habits.
The Starling Hill Trilogy: