Interview with author Karen Tayleur on ‘Love Notes from Vinegar House’

Ten Questions for Karen on writing and ‘Love Notes from Vinegar House’ . . . and her answers –

best comment wins a free copy of the book!

1. In your mind is there a real Vinegar House?

Yes. I came across it on a family holiday, but I can’t remember where it was. It was a spooky old house, abandoned, with shutters lopsided, half fallen off. And it was like the house was watching us, waiting, but wasn’t sure what for. It sat in an overgrown garden and the thing that stood out was a single golden daffodil growing near the front gate half off its hinges. And that’s when I thought, one day I am going to put you in a story. And now I finally have.
2. Have you ever seen a ghost?

No, but I’ve dreamt about them, so I wonder if that’s the same thing?
3.  What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

Thesaurus – it is like a treasure trove of alternate words when you are searching for just the right one.
4.  Which of the books you’ve written is your favourite?

Always the last, so it has to be Vinegar House.

Though of course, you shouldn’t have favourites among your children.
5.  What food do you snack on while you’re writing?

Coffee. It has to be two heaped teaspoons of coffee to one of sugar and a lot of milk.

It has to be in a certain mug. The one with the owls on it.

Unfortunately my daughter decided it was hers so it’s often not available.

I also got a great mug from my good friend Bernadette Kelly which really helps express the frustration of modern life, and holds just the right amount of coffee.

I have also been known to devour a packet of Shapes over the course of an afternoon.
6.  What time of day is your favourite time to write?

It used to be late at night, when everyone had gone to bed, but once I got to bed I couldn’t turn off my mind and it would take me hours to get to sleep. So probably a bit earlier now. I usually get my best ideas just as I’m dropping off to sleep… which is so annoying, because you just know you’re not going to remember in the morning.
7.  When can we expect your next book?

Haha, next year!
8.  What’s your favourite vinegar?

I love balsamic glaze, which is kind of like a thick vinegar.

You can have it on salads or berries – delicious!
9.  Which of your book characters is most like you?

Well, my kids read Vinegar House and unflatteringly they decided I had modelled the sharp-mouthed housecleaner Mrs Skelton on myself. I thought that was rather harsh…
10. What is your secret pleasure?

Masterchef. I can’t help it. I swear every season I won’t get sucked in, yet I do.

The Love Notes from Vinegar House Cake

The Launcher - the wonderful Cath Crowley

Karen's speech at The Little Bookroom, Carlton.

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  1. Marjory Gardner Must be crazy sometimes juggling the two hats (author and editor), Karen. But as a result it makes you the understanding/empathetic editor you are to us illustrators... because you know what it's like from the other side of the desk! I am amazed you get the time to write after your long days at the office!
    July 4, 2012 at 10:22 am · Reply
    • corinne I couldn't agree more with you Marjory. She performs the juggling act so well and it seems to me she also manages to be totally involved with her family.
      July 4, 2012 at 10:49 am · Reply
    • Karen Tayleur Well, as you can see Marjory, some things have to give and social media is one of them. I've just accepted the fact that I can't do everything... Thanks for your comment.
      July 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm · Reply
  2. Catriona Hoy Like Marjory, I was wondering how Karen juggled the two hats. And I can sympathise with no sleep because your brain won't turn off. In the morning mine won't turn on, which is a worry when I have to teach year 12 and tell them off if they fall asleep at 8am. I've tried hot's good for bone density too but not with vinegar, it makes it curdle. I know that because I'm a science teacher. In fact it looks like baby vomit. As a science teacher I also know that when you add acid to milk, the protein called casein coagulates. It's a polymer and you can shape it and dry it. Perhaps we could do that with our children's vomit. We could exhibit them on a shelf, with their baby photos. There...I either win the book or gross people out for life. cheers, cat
    July 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm · Reply
    • corinne Yes, the juggling act and turning off the brain are two big issues, I know. The curdled milk. Yuck. Although I remember using the vinegar/milk combination to substitute for buttermilk.
      July 5, 2012 at 8:29 am · Reply
    • Karen Tayleur Catriona - that is all very interesting information! I'm not sure about the modelling, though...
      July 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm · Reply
  3. Chris Bell I recognise those ideas popping in just at the edge of dreamtime. I know better than to ignore them because sometimes that relaxed state allows room for creativity and thought travel that the hectic day does not. Plus what lovely place to be just before sleep. I also recognise that house from childhood and the nagging wish to write about it. I’m still to open the door of mine and find out who’s inside. Fears from childhood stick. Best wishes for mega success for Vinegar House, Karen. Chris
    July 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm · Reply
    • corinne Lovely words Chris. Thanks for sharing.
      July 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm · Reply
    • Karen Tayleur Chris, I look forward to hearing about your special childhood house one day soon...
      July 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm · Reply
  4. corinne The winner of the free copy of 'Love Notes from Vinegar House' is Chris Bell. Congratulations Chris. Your copy will be sent in the mail.
    July 10, 2012 at 8:29 am · Reply
  5. Chris Bell Ooh, I won! I won! I'm very excited and very much looking forward to reading 'Love Notes from Vinegar House'. I absolutely loved 'Six' and this latest KT was on my shopping list. So double win for me. Thank you very much, Corinne and Karen. Chris
    July 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm · Reply

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