Tuesday Interview: Jane Travers on Tweet Treats Blog Tour

Jane Travers was one of the first people I met on Twitter and I’ve subsequently had the pleasure of meeting this intelligent, friendly and wry lady in real life. The Tweet Treats project is a brainwave with a difference and the book has just been released. I asked Jane all about it….

(Sincere apologies at the moment, I am unable for some technological reason to add images of Jane and the Tweet Treats book in the post (am working on correcting this) but click on the links at the end to see the book and see @janetravers on Twitter!

Me: Who are you, Jane Travers, tell us a bit about yourself?

Jane: Who am I? I’m a full-time mum, a part-time company director, a former estate agent (for my sins) and a writer. If I’m allowed to call myself that when I’ve just put a load of tweets together into a book.

Me: What’s is this #tweettreats book all about then?

Jane: Well Alison, I had a dream… Ahem. I had an idea to create a recipe book that was really usable, not a coffee table book that was lovely to look through but no use at all if you were in a hurry to put dinner on the table. Reading a long passage about finding and pressing one’s own olive oil while sojourning in Tuscany, then preserving one’s own larks’ tongues in it is all very lovely when you’re in the mood to flick through some food porn; but I wanted recipes that you could read in seconds and then get on with making.

Me: How did you come up with the idea?

Jane: It was born out of boredom and frustration. One miserable Thursday night I had been working on a novel which was frustrating me utterly. I was dragged away from it by a starving child who demanded petulantly to know when dinner would be ready – it was already 6.30pm and I hadn’t even thought about dinner! I stood in the kitchen staring blankly at a packet of chicken thighs, entirely devoid of inspiration as to how to turn them into a meal. In desperation – and a hurry – I tweeted: “Any suggestions for what I can do with a packet of chicken thighs? No rude ones, please!” Within a minute I had received five perfect little tweet-length recipes from twitter friends, and an idea was born. So was dinner.

Me: What has been the most challenging aspect of putting the book together?

Jane: There have been different challenges at different parts of the process. Firstly, explaining what I was doing over and over again to new people as they became aware of the project. That wasn’t hard, but it was frustrating. Then trying to attract the attention of celebrities, who are tweeted by so many followers that it’s hard for them to notice just one person in their stream. When I’d collected all the recipes I had to write a book proposal. Vanessa O’Loughlin of writing.ie gave me a crazy amount of help here, though I could gleefully have killed her a few times during the process! She kept ordering me to do more, get more information, devise a marketing plan, etc. It was harder than writing my masters’ thesis, to be honest. However, Michael O’Brien of O’Brien Press – who are publishing Tweet Treats – has told me several times that it was the best proposal they’d ever received. Which was nice.

Me: Congratulations, that is very impressive! So what aspect of the project has warmed your heart?

Jane: All of it! Seriously, I’ve been a soppy mess since I started this. I’ve had overwhelming gratitude from Medécins sans Frontières, which is strange to me, given the incredible work they do – I’m the one who’s grateful! Huge numbers of people have joined in, offered help and wished me well with Tweet Treats. That includes a number of really well-known celebrities; Paula Abdul, for example, has been incredibly supportive. A group of my Twitter friends declared themselves to be Team Tweet Treat, and spent hours helping me to round up recipes and celebrities, for no other reason than that they liked the idea. The day Marco Pierre White agreed to donate the foreword was another big one, just another example of the incredible generosity I’ve encountered. I’ve had such overwhelming help with this that I feel like a fraud to have my name on the cover, because there’s no way on earth I could have done this without everyone’s help.

Me: Sum up the book in one line (or 140 characters if you wish!)

Jane:  The tagline on the book says it well – 140 characters, 140 celebrities, recipes for every occasion! Short, simple recipes anyone can follow. And that line above was exactly 140 characters!

Me: Ooh, nicely done. Apart from it being pithy and witty, why should people buy the book Jane?

Jane: Not only is it really useful; not only is it chock full of celebrity contributions; but also every single copy purchased will directly benefit Medécins sans Frontières. All royalties for as long as the book remains in print (which will hopefully be many years) goes to MSF, who are on the ground providing medical aid in countries stricken by war, famine and natural disaster.

Me: Why will it make the perfect stocking filler? Because we’ve measured and weighed it carefully, and it’s precisely the size to fill the average sock (which is a size 7 standardised across men and women). No, not really. It’s a perfect Christmas gift for a number of reasons; firstly, the price (€7.99) leaves ample change from a tenner; secondly, it’s fun, cool and twittery; and thirdly, lots of people like to give socially conscious gifts at Christmas, and Tweet Treats is ideal for that.

Me: Terrific! No arguments there. So what else are you working on at the moment?

Jane: I’m currently editing a novel (women’s fiction) and working on a YA paranormal romance, which I hope will be a trilogy.

Me: That’s great to hear, hope to see you in print soon. In the meantime where can people buy Tweet Treats?

Jane: Loads of places, I’m glad to say! Amazon.co.uk, Book Depository, Waterstones, Eason, Dubray Books, O’Brien Press and all good bookshops.

That’s absolutely super and for a brilliant cause. Come on readers, it’s a great buy for so many reasons, click on the links! Well done to Jane and O’ Brien Press. Congratulations.

Interview with Sarah Bannon: Head of Literature at the Arts Council (Ireland)

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Sarah Bannon, Head of Literature at the Arts Council. (Ireland).  Sarah’s role is diverse and includes working with and helping to fund a variety of literature organisations and festivals and also assessing grants for individual writers under the Literature Bursary Awards Scheme. She is also active in creating policy and finding strategic ways to further the literary arts. She gave me tips for Irish writers who are interested in applying for the literature bursaries and described the activities of the Arts Council over the years as well as reflecting on the literary landscape in Ireland at the moment.

You can read the full interview here on Writing.ie, the brilliant Irish writing website which provides fantastic advice in it’s Writer’s Toolbox, submission opportunities and constantly interesting features on writing and writers. Enjoy!