About Santa Montefiore
Q. What is your birthdate?
Q. Previous occupations
A. Special Events for Ralph Lauren in London
Q. Favorite job
A. My first job working in the General Trading Company, London, as a sales girl
Q. High school and/or college
A. Sherborne School For Girls, Dorset, UK - Boarding school
Q. Name of your favorite composer or music artist?
A. Ennio Morricone
Q. Favorite movie
A. Out Of Africa
Q. Favorite television show
A. Friends, CSI, House and Damages
Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
A. blessed, full of love, light and optimism
Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. The happiness of one's life depends on the quality of one's thoughts
Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. This is the theme for my next book! The Affair. We all know that happiness comes from inside us. From being happy in our own skin. Not craving what we don't have but taking pleasure in simple things, like our children, our friends and nature. It sounds so easy and we all know the theory, but so many of us aren't happy. I've always felt that unpleasant people are simply unhappy people, because those who are kind are not jealous and resentful but happy enough in themselves to wish happiness on other people. We live in a madly material world, constantly wanting another 'thing' to satisfy us. When we die we take our love with us, not our car and our house and that fabulous pair of jeans - so, I try to remind myself that I don't really need any of those things - but I need the love of my family and friends and that is what makes me happiest. If we can find spirituality, a sense of purpose in our lives, then we will strive to be kinder and more loving and the more of that we spread around, the happier the world will be - as well as us! - and if we have a higher purpose we can put up with anything life throws us, however bad.
Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. something awful happening to one of my children
Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. in our garden in Hampshire with my family
Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. Beatrix Potter - I love animals and nature and always wrote stories as child - though sadly, I lack her talent!
Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. my father. He's kind, full of joy and always looks for the good in everyone
Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. fabulous! "Let's have lunch" - which I never follow up!
Q. What do you regret most?
A. That having spen time in Argentina and Italy, I never made it to France to learn French. That I never learned the piano.
Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. to play the piano beautifully
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. That my children love me
Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. obsessionally tidy - drives my husband insane
Q. What’s your best quality?
A. probably my positive mental attitude - most of the time!
Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. My mother's dog! SO spoilt.
Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. My height and big mouth!
Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Winnie the pooh
Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. <BR> <BR>Marilyn Monroe - "Were you murdered and if so, by whom?"<BR> <BR>
Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. Litter ! It offends me to the core to see litter all over our beautiful countryside
Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. love, Integrity, sense of humor
Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. chocolate fudge cake
Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. The Winner Takes it all, Abba; Don't Cry For Me Argentina, Andrew Lloyd Webber; All By Myself, Celine Dion; Halleluyah, Leonard Cohen; I dreamed a dream, Les Miserables;
On Books and Writing
Q. Who are your favorite authors?
A. Gabriel Garcia Marquez<BR> <BR>Isabel Allende<BR> <BR>Fannie Flagg<BR> <BR>Laura Esquival<BR> <BR>Dumas<BR> <BR>Jane Austen<BR> <BR>Joanne Harris<BR> <BR>Tolstoy<BR> <BR>Edith Wharton<BR> <BR>
Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez<BR> <BR>Shadow of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon<BR> <BR>Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen<BR> <BR>Count of Monte Cristo - Dumas<BR> <BR>Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Cafe - Fannie Flagg<BR> <BR>
Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
A. Any Jane Austen or Dumas
Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
A. Write to give you pleasure, not what you think will give other people pleasure
Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
A. That my books give them a vivid sense of place, and that they cry!
Q. How did you come to write French Gardener?
A. I was lazing on the lawn in the summer, thinking about my next book, when I saw my parents' gardener, Simon, mowing the grass on the tractor (my parents live on a farm in Hampshire, UK, and have an enormous garden!) on the back and sides were my two children aged 5 and 7 and their four small cousins. Simon was blithely mowing with these little monkeys laughing and squeaking around him, probably making it harder for him to work, but he didn't seem to mind. I then thought of how much fun they all have in the countryside, planting vegetables and trees, picking apples and blackberries in the autumn, finding small creatures to nurture, rescuing the odd bird fallen out of his nest, building camps and running around in freedom. They rarely watch tv and certainly don't have time for computer games when there's so much to do in the garden! My parents are busy people. My father is either on a tractor or playing tennis, rackets, squash, golf! I noticed too that the garden brought them together. Simon is a recent addition to the farm. My parents didn't hire a new gardener when Peter, the old gardener they'd had for 20 years retired and then died, preferring to save pennies and do the gardening themselves, an enormous task as the grounds are so big. They mowed over the vegetable garden and cut things back to make it more manageable. Then, by chance, or fate, Simon appeared wanting to rent a cottage. When he said he was a gardener my parents took him on a few days a week. They began planting vegetables again, sweet peas, created new borders - it's a hive of activity now, and has brought them closer together as they spend time doing what they love, together. This, combined with my children's love for the countryside, being essentially London children, gave me the idea for the French Gardener. I then wove Jean-Paul and Ava out of my imagination, but the gardens are based on Prince Charles's gardens at Highgrove.