The Essex Girls are on the way! For people new to the blog, The Essex Girls is my novel about two working class girls in the Sixties – mods, Motown and milkshakes. The book comes out in 2 months. A few final touches and we’ll be ready to go. One of those final touches is putting a recipe in the back of the book, based on a dish from the novel. At first I couldn’t think what that might be – most of the time Sandra and Linda eat beans on toast, egg and chips, and Ready Brek. For special occasions, it might be ham salad.
But then I remembered the cake! There is a birthday cake (not in Linda’s house, it should be said), and it’s an Angel Cake. So – not only will readers get a cracking good book (as we say in the literary world) but a recipe too! For Angel Cake.
I have to admit that when I wrote about the cake, how soft, creamy, even moist it was, I hadn’t knowingly eaten Angel cake. Of course, this is why it’s called fiction. Writers make things up. But they must do research.
For me, writing about the Sixties, research is usually looking at my old diaries. However, while in a popular supermarket yesterday, buying frozen, microwaveable chips for my Aunty Rita (89) I was walking past the cake section and saw a packet of Angel Cake Slices, Tesco’s own brand. In the pursuit of knowledge and experience – who knows what questions I might be asked when the book comes out – I quickly snatched a packet from the shelf, paid and took them back to Rita’s flat. We had a cup of tea and a piece of Angel cake. Delicious, soft, moist and a little cream. The perfect cake to go in the back of the book! I left the slices with Rita to enjoy in her own time.
This morning, needing to double check my facts, I bought a packet of Mr Kipling Angel Slices. I have to say, they are not as delicious and unctuous as the Tesco brand.
Clearly, there must be a way forward for readers. Here is my 5-step plan.
- Pre-order The Essex Girls here.
- As soon as you receive it on or about 19 April, read it and thoroughly immerse yourself in the glorious decade that was the 60s.
- Find the recipe at the back of the book.
- Make the cake.
- Eat the cake.
- (optional) Think about angels.
- (even more optional) Wonder why you can’t take your eyes off that male dancer with the floppy hair.
Top 3 pictures – Christine Wilkinson