Journalist, broadcaster and novelist Penny Smith is as busy as ever. She is currently standing in for Claudia Winkleman on Radio 2’s Art Show, whilst Claudia hosts Strictly Come Dancing, in her own words, “brewing up for novel number 4”, and knitting a scarf. “Every year I learn something new. Last year it was learning to knit, the year before it was it was learning to ride a motorbike, I passed my CBT. This year I am going to learn to sail when I go on holiday in a few weeks time. I’ve cut it fine this year but will still fit it in.”
Keen on keeping fit and fresh air, the energetic all-rounder continues, “I also like to go for a good old stomp every year; this year I hiked in Scotland, Yorkshire and Wales. In Wales, we walked around Pistyll, in the north. It’s beautiful. I remember doing an outward bound course in Wales when I was sixteen. I loved it all apart from the rock climbing and swore I’d never do that again.”
“I love most outdoor activities. Being outdoor just helps me to be more creative and I get lots of ideas for my novels when I walk. The first two were the hardest to write as I was still working at GMTV and had to take a holiday to get them done.
“When I’m out walking these days, I am often aware that I am talking to myself about bits for the next book. They’re not literary books, they’re designed to be read fast and make you laugh.
“Thankfully, I have just got a dog-share with my sister. We rescued a lovely golden retriever called Finnbar from Battersea Dog’s Home, so now I look as though I’m talking to the dog not myself.”
Although Penny doesn’t have a garden at her London flat she has a plan. “My parents are moving back from Cyrus soon so I’ll be able to have a garden-share with them,” she explains. “I inherited my love of gardening from my Mum. And sewing. Sowing and sewing.” she laughs. “I was one of those atrocious kids who helped all the time. I liked cleaning (and still do) and would be cleaning up the garden all the time. My Mum probably has a different version of events. She stopped asking me to go and pick veg as nothing came back. I’d eat it all raw in the veg patch. I might as well have taken a knife and fork out there. About the only thing I wouldn’t munch through were the brassicas, they were safe. I also inherited a lifelong hatred of slugs from my Mum.”
“I’m surrounded by Parks here in London and whenever I walk through them I always find myself thinking, I could have a little veggie patch in a corner of one of them, I’m sure no-one would mind!”
Penny’s third novel ‘Summer Holiday’ is out now and available from Amazon and good bookshops.