I’m treating you to another Ruby Fiction author this week, as Chris Penhall, who has just released The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve, tells us what she gets up to when she’s not writing. Over to Chris …
Thanks for inviting me onto your blog to talk about what I do when I’m not writing, and as my new novel, The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve, is based at a yoga and mindfulness studio in Lagos in Portugal, it indicates at least some of the things I do when I’m relaxing!
I love Lagos in Portugal’s Algarve, and so visit there a few times a year, which is something I’ve been doing for a long time. I relax as soon as I see the runway at Faro Airport and am basically already a blob by the time I get out of the car in Lagos, in time for a few days or weeks of doing nothing but: swimming, ambling, eating, drinking, reading, socialising…and repeat… till the end of the holiday.
I also do yoga, but not as regularly as I should. I am a great fan of Body Balance classes, which are a mixture of Tai Chi, Pilates and yoga, and love the way I feel after I’ve done a few sessions. This is one of the things that prompted me to set my story in a yoga and mindfulness studio – Layla Garcia, the owner is very organised and apparently serene, but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of what looks like a perfect life. When I’m standing on one leg in tree pose I know I look pretty relaxed and in the moment, but I can assure you what’s going on in my head is anything but, generally.
I also love to dance. I have been a very enthusiastic social salsa dancer for very many years, and I’ve taken up tap dancing too. And as for Zumba…you should see my face when the Samba version of Take on Me by Aha comes on! There is also a little bit of that enjoyment in the book, as it is so much a part of my life. In fact, I have recently taken part in my first ever dance show – a very short run (three nights!) on stage at the local theatre, performing to Alexander’s Ragtime Band as part of the dance school’s annual show. I’ve never done it before, and it was absolutely wonderful, if a little frightening. And I did it entirely for the sake of it, as I’m never going to be a professional dancer! Oh, the joy of doing something I love entirely for myself is so very liberating. I’m looking for the next thing too – but nothing too demanding. Or stressful. Definitely not stressful. Maybe I’ll try Hot Yoga. Or Paddle Boarding again. Or I could just read a book.
About Chris Penhall
Chris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Both are available in paperback, e-book and audio and are part of the Portuguese Paradise series. Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South-West Wales is available in e-book, audio and paperback, and The House on the Hill – A Summer in the Algarve, the third novel in the Portuguese Paradise series, is published in e-book on 28th June 2022.
Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.
She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!
A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.
You can find more information about her on www.chrispenhall.co.uk
or follow her on Twitter: @ChrisPenhall
About The House on The Hill
A Summer in the Algarve
Layla is calm, in control and is definitely not about to lose her serenity for the man next door!
Surely it can’t be hard to stay peaceful at one of the oldest yoga and mindfulness retreats in the Algarve, surrounded by sea, sun and serenity? Mostly, owner Layla Garcia manages it – with the help of meditation and plenty of camomile tea, of course.
But keeping her grandparents’ legacy alive is stressful, and Layla has become so shackled to the work that, for her, The House on the Hill is fast becoming ‘The Fortress on the Hill’.
Then writer Luke Mackie moves to the villa next door, bringing with him a healthy dose of chaos to disrupt Layla’s plans, plus a painful reminder of a time when she was less-than-serene. But could his influence be just what Layla needs to ‘dance like no-one’s watching’ and have the fun she’s been missing?
Buy it here: https://smarturl.it/x4u6oz
Thank you for this post, Chris. I want to stow away in your suitcase please. Mx
A couple of things from me: I didn’t manage to share my blog from last week as much as I normally would, so please take a look at Joanne Boden’s post from last week if you haven’t already – here