Interview with Alison Walsh, Author of A Literary Tea Party

If you saw my review from earlier this week about my favorite new cookbook, A Literary Tea Party, you can imagine how excited I am about today’s blog post: an interview with the author, Alison Walsh!

A Literary Tea Party

Alison Walsh first began cooking as a way to stretch her post-college paycheck, and it quickly grew into her blog, Alison’s Wonderland Recipes. Every month, Alison features a different classic novel on her blog, with a new recipe each week inspired by the Book of the Month. Currently, Alison is a mother and private tutor by day, and a wild food enthusiast by night. A Literary Tea Party is Alison’s first book.

How did you first get into baking?
I first started cooking when I graduated from college. Money was tight, so I used a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I got for free to stretch my grocery budget. Even though it started out as purely practical, I wound up loving the cooking process. I found it really relaxing, and I loved that it could double as a creative outlet.

Are you a fan of any baking shows or other cookbooks?
I love the earlier seasons of the Great British Bake Off. Mary Berry is the greatest.

How did you choose which novels to create recipes from?
I love the classics. So for my blog, I think of what classic book I want to read, then I make a list of foods in the book as I read it. If there are enough to make a meal and I’m excited to do it, then I cook them up! For the cookbook, I created updated versions of recipes from my blog (plus some brand new ones) that I thought would work best in a tea time scenario.

Which of the recipes in this cookbook was the most fun to create? The most difficult?
The Cyclone Cookies from Wizard of Oz were fun to experiment with. They’ve got a unique look, and I enjoyed taking the time to perfect the recipe. The Turkish Delight was by far the most difficult. At first I had issues with the candies losing their shape after setting. Then my new version fused to the pan no matter what I used to grease it! I went through several variations, and I’m happy to say I love the version in the final copy. It was SO satisfying to finally figure it out!

What’s your favorite book?
That’s a tough one! I don’t know that I have one specific favorite. If I do, it’s definitely something by Agatha Christie!

What snacks do you like to keep beside you while you’re reading?
A mug of tea for sure. If I’m really on top of things, I’ll make some madeleines to go with it. If not, I have toast or Belvitas—anything I can share with the baby. He gets mad if I don’t share!

Do you have plans for any future books or cookbooks?
Nothing official yet, but I’ve got some ideas!

Now for my favorite question: If you were hosting your own literary tea party, which characters would you invite?
I LOVE this question! Jo March for sure. Then Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot…or maybe Sherlock Holmes? And Gandalf.

Thank you, Alison, for taking the time to answer these questions. If you haven’t already, please go visit Alison at her blog, Alison’s Wonderland Recipes. And look out for A Literary Tea Party in bookstores and online this week. Alison is also hosting a giveaway for her cookbook! Click here for all the details.

But before you go, tell me who you would host for your own fictional tea party? I’d love to have tea and sweets with Anne Shirley, of course, as well as Catherine Morland (I’d really just love to see her and Anne meet). I also think it would be fun to have Jules Verne or H.G. Wells stop by. The conversation sure would be interesting :)

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Syllabus if I Taught ‘Shakespeare Modernizations’

toptentuesdayI’m very excited about this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) because it is a topic I’ve thought about a lot: what would be on my syllabus if I was a teacher. For years now I’ve told myself that if I ever taught a college class, it would be about Shakespeare adaptations because I love seeing those parallels between centuries-old plays and modern films (and now webseries!).

I’ve seen most of these modernizations, but I added a couple of new-to-me films because they really intrigued me. Ideally, if I was really teaching this class, we would read the play and then watch a modern adaptation of it.

Top Ten Adaptations on My Syllabus if I Taught ‘Shakespeare Modernizations’

The Lion KingThe Lion King (Hamlet) – The first Shakespeare adaptation I ever saw (also the first movie I ever saw in theaters)! The Lion King is a happy ending retelling of Hamlet, my favorite Shakespearean play, so I would definitely be including it. It would probably be the first assignment :)

10 Things I Hate About You10 Things I Hate About You (The Taming of the Shrew) – A 90s classic. I adore this retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. When I first heard it was a Shakespeare adaptation I went and read the play on my own and began comparing the two. I really enjoyed how they kept Kat fiesty throughout the entire movie.

She's The ManShe’s the Man (Twelfth Night) – The red lettering on the movie poster describes this movie perfectly. I love that the original confusion and pandemonium of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is maintained in this modern film retelling. Plus I think Amanda Bynes is perfect for this role.

muchadofilmMuch Ado About Nothing – I’ve talked about how much I loved this adaptation before, so it would definitely be on my syllabus! One thing we would discuss is how it’s modernized even though the script is word-for-word Shakespeare (with the exception of one word). This is also my favorite Shakespearean comedy!

nmtdNothing Much To Do (Much Ado About Nothing) – In the past few years, “literary inspired webseries” have become very popular and pronounced. The first one I ever watched was The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice where Lizzie is a communications grad student and Mr. Darcy is a young CEO of a media enterprise. Nothing Much To Do is a New Zealand based webseries that follows the lives of a group of high schoolers, namely Beatrice and Benedick who loathe each other. The first series was phenomenal, and for season 2 they are using the same characters to adapt Love’s Labour Lost, which I have not read yet but probably would before teaching this class :)

Romeo + JulietRomeo + Juliet – I would have to include Romeo and Juliet on the list, especially since there are so many different adaptations of it. The “forbidden love” theme alone has been repeated countless times. This 90s version of the play is one of my favorite adaptations, however, probably because it makes me as emotional as the play does. Plus it’s fun to study it as a film in itself.

MacbethShakespeaRe-told: Macbeth – Even though Macbeth is my least favorite Shakespearean work (that I’ve read), I would have to talk about it, because it is a great play (I just despise the main characters). About 10 years ago, the BBC released four Shakespeare adaptations in a series called ShakespeaRe-told. I’ve only seen the Macbeth adaptation and I remember it being gruesome (mostly because of “Macbeth’s” profession as a chef.

A Thousand AcresA Thousand Acres novel/film (King Lear) – The first of four adaptations on this mock-syllabus that I haven’t actually seen yet. King Lear was so incredibly sad to me that I’ve only read it once, but the story-line has always stuck with me so I would like to read/see A Thousand Acres one day. Side note: I realized while preparing this post that the relationships between King Lear and his daughters/his daughters with one another is mildly portrayed in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, with Anne Elliot representing Cordelia. That would also be fun to discuss!

The Black AdderThe Black Adder (MacbethRichard III, and Henry V) – I just discovered this TV series when I was researching for this post, but it has Rowan Atkinson and it received high reviews, so I think it would be an interesting addition to the syllabus.

OO (Othello) – Another film I haven’t yet seen! Othello is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies that has me face-palming over the characters’ blindness and stupidity instead of feeling sympathy for them. But it has plenty of good themes that I’m sure are relayed into this film as well. Plus, I love Julia Stiles :)

Alternative:

The Forbidden PlanetThe Forbidden Planet (The Tempest) – This movie just sounds so fun. A 1950s sci-fi version of The Tempest (another play I haven’t read yet). Maybe I would assign this as extra credit or something?

Do you know of any other Shakespeare adaptations I should add to this mock syllabus? Let me know! I love discussing The Bard and his endeavoring inspiration.