A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

My Fantasy Dinner Party

By Sarah J Naughton, Author of Costa shortlisted ‘The Hanged Man Rises’.  Debut psychological thriller, ‘Tattletale’, out March 2017.

The Menu20160927_121419-1

My five year cough was recently diagnosed as a reaction to dairy, which I have now had to give up.  This tragedy, on a par with the Take That split, spelled the demise of my cheese monophagousy.  It’s still too upsetting to discuss, suffice to say cheese would feature heavily on the menu of my FDP: baked Camembert and a crusty baguette, Colston Bassett with conference pears, Stinking Bishop drizzled on oatcakes, and a nice ashed goat served with fig relish and walnuts.  Ahem.

The Music

My dad’s Scottish but though I like the place, I never felt much of an affinity with it.  Until I heard The Proclaimers, at which point my Highland soul was hooked, torn out and left to bleed on the cold heather-less pavement.  I’d have them begin the FDP evening with something upbeat like ‘Letter from America’, and end it with ‘Sunshine on Leith’, while I greet into ma Irn Bru.

The Location

I love London.  I’d like to have seen it pre-fire, preferably from the relative safety of, let’s say, Whitehall Palace, one of Henry V111’s that burned down in 1698.  Hopefully the familiar surroundings will lull him into a false sense of security…

The Guests

Henry V111 and Anne Boleyn

History is liberally strewn with monsters but I came to know this one at a very young age.  My mum and I, being skint, would sometimes go on cheap holidays and end up in half built hotels miles from the nearest civilization.  On the long walks there and back Mum would tell me stories from history (I must have been some kid, eh?  My two would just whinge about being hungry/thirsty/tired).  I loved hearing about Fat Hal and his wives, but as I got older I started to feel a burning sense of injustice, especially for Anne Boleyn.  A clever, witty, firecracker of a woman, I’d like Fatso to explain exactly why he murdered her.  And then I’d have security kick him out onto the sewagey street, with no pudding.  Then I’d get Anne drunk enough to tell all his embarrassing secrets.  She would get on very well with…


My Gran, Bunty Adams

Who was just as tricky but fortunately married to the kindest, gentlest husband…

My Grandad, Frank Adams

Grandad always wanted to travel the world but my formidable Gran never wanted to leave Eltham, so that’s where they stayed.  Back when I worked in advertising and consequently had some spare money, I’d take him out for grand lunches: he tried sushi and curry, dim sum, snails, pizza.  In my FDP I’d give him a JustEat menu and he could order whatever he wanted.  Plus some single malt.  He liked that.

Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, and the ghost of Diana Wynne Jones

I would sit respectfully in silence, taking notes on the back of the Camembert gingham.

Grayson Perry, Caravaggio, Bob Parks

Just for fun.

Comedians Sara Pascoe, Charlie Brooker & Sue Perkins

So long as they understand that their role for the evening is to a) make me laugh until brie comes out of my nose, and b) feed me lines.  Any ego trouble and they’ll be out on their ear.

Right at the end, I’d have all the other guests leave, and I’d go back in time to when I was 18 and summon my two best university friends, Ben and Will: because all the best conversations happen when you’re young enough not to be worried about upsetting anyone.  We’d drink Thunderbird.

Last of all I’d whizz forward a few years for a nightcap with my beautiful grown-up sons while my husband and Paolo DiCanio do the washing up.


About Lauren James

Lauren James was born in 1992 and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, with a Master’s degree, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the author of The Next Together, The Last Beginning and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or Tumblr at

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This entry was posted on September 28, 2016 by .
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