A perfect Sunday with... Joanne Harris

Invisible cities, healing places and running from the shambling dead!

A perfect Sunday with... Joanne Harris

Every week, a top writer, artist or creator reveals how they’d fill their perfect Sunday, sharing their favourite comfort reads, movies, food… anything that would make their weekend great.

Today, it’s the turn of Mother, Maiden, Crone author, Joanne Harris.

Joanne’s perfect Sunday… brunch

I learnt to love brunch from my late friend, the crime/horror writer Chris Fowler. He and I used to regularly try out all the brunch places around King’s Cross, where he lived and where I had a flat, so that now I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the best breakfast and brunch foods, where to find them and how to recreate them at home.

On Saturday nights I usually play until late with the band I’ve been in since I was 16, so Sunday is the one day a week I get up mid-morning, make a big pot of tea and a pan of shakshuka, or huevos rancheros, or Dishoom’s akuri and (in any case chilli is likely to feature) and maybe some fresh fruit, or some smashed avocado with chilli and lime, served on thick slices of seeded toast.

Joanne’s perfect Sunday… read

I love re-reading books. Familiarity with a good book can lead to a deeper understanding of the author and oneself, and really good books grow with you, so that you can enjoy them differently at different stages of life. Thus, some of my favourite books are old friends, and I like to revisit them regularly.

In summer I read in the hammock set up in my greenhouse, and in winter, in the bath or by the fire on the floor of the library. I like books from many genres, but especially fantasy, horror and sci-fi: some of my go-to comfort reads are Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series; Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and Ray Bradbury’s short stories. Right now I’m re-reading Shelley Parker-Chan’s marvellous historical fantasy She Who Became The Sun in preparation for the sequel, which I’ve been eagerly awaiting all summer....

Joanne’s perfect Sunday… comic

I discovered comics late in life (I wasn’t allowed them as a child), so now I read my son’s books, and I’m very much enjoying some of the ones I’ve discovered. I love Saga and Lumberjanes and The Wicked and the Divine, but the one I keep coming back to is Sandman, which was the first comic book series I ever read, back when I was still a teacher. It helped me out of a six-month stretch of reader’s block following a period of horrendous overwork and depression, and I still have enormous affection and admiration for both the writing and the art.

Joanne’s perfect Sunday… movie

Much as I love watching new movies, Sunday movies hold a special place in my heart. For me, a Sunday movie needs to be familiar, comforting, preferably funny, and visually interesting, too – some favourites are Galaxy Quest, Ladyhawke, Spirited Away and my ultimate go-to comfort movie, Spinal Tap, which never fails to make me smile, and which still stands as the most accurate depiction of the music (and book) business I’ve ever seen...

Joanne’s perfect Sunday… TV binge

Like many people, I tend to binge shows, and Sunday rules apply to these, too – I love re-watching old favourites. As a child I was raised on Sunday afternoon musicals, Westerns and historical dramas, and my comfort shows often reflect this. I love Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for its musical themes and its bold, clever take on mental health; and I have a peculiar fondness (somewhat inexplicable to my loved ones) for the Sarah Michelle Gellar series Ringer, which was cancelled on a cliffhanger, and which gets more ridiculously melodramatic every time I revisit it.

Right now I’m re-bingeing The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, which has the perfect balance of humour, brilliant dialogue and stellar performances – as well as being the most lavish frockfest since My Fair Lady.

Joanne’s perfect Sunday… podcast

My current favourite podcast is Roman Mars’ 99% Invisible City, which never fails to entertain and interest me. Described as: big-ideas podcast about small-seeming things, revealing stories baked into the buildings we inhabit, the streets we drive on, and sidewalks we traverse, it celebrates all aspects of design and architecture, from dazzle ships to shop dummies, space junk to street signs. And when I’m on my Sunday run, I always use the Zombies, run! podcast and app – it’s fun, inclusive, clever and immersive, plus you get to outrun the shambling dead on a daily basis.

Joanne’s perfect Sunday… album

My listening preferences also follow Sunday rules: I tend to reach for old, familiar favourites. Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat combines everything I love: well-constructed songs, great lyrics and a mellow, nostalgic vibe. My Zombies, run! playlist is a more upbeat and eclectic mixture of Boomtown Rats, the soundtracks from Hamilton and The Book of Mormon, Blondie, Sia and The Axis of Awesome – those zombies won’t outrun themselves!

Joanne’s perfect Sunday… treat

I’m fortunate to live within walking distance of some very beautiful countryside, including woodland and the moors. When I get the chance, I love to go down to the woods and just chill – it’s beautiful at all times of year, but especially in the spring, when there are bluebells and wild garlic everywhere, and in autumn. There are muntjac and roe deer in the woods, as well as foxes, hedgehogs, badgers and squirrels, and I rarely ever meet anyone else; it’s a great way to decompress and get away from the pressure of work and social media. It’s also a healing, creative place – a lot of my best ideas have come to me as I was just wandering around in Nature.

Mother, Maiden, Crone by Joanne Harris is out now from Gollancz.

Join Joanne Harris on a beautiful journey through her gloriously reimagined take on traditional British folktales. Drawing inspiration from The Child Ballads, this collection brings together her award-winning novellas A Pocketful of Crows, The Blue Salt Road and Orfeia. Fully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins and published in one beautiful volume for the first time, this collection also includes a brand new introduction by Joanne Harris, and three original short stories.

Take a moment and step into this stunning, evocative world where nature, magic and fate are inextricably linked, and one wrong - or right - step can lead you from the modern world and into an adventure filled with both danger and wonder.

Joanne Harris (OBE, FRSL) was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels, including Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche .

Since then, she has written 19 more novels, plus novellas, short stories, game scripts, the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a stage musical (with Howard Goodall) and three cookbooks. Her books are now published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, has honorary doctorates in literature from the universities of Sheffield and Huddersfield, and has been a judge for the Whitbread Prize, the Orange Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize, the Betty Trask Award, the Prima Donna Prize and the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science, as well as for the Fragrance Foundation awards for perfume and perfume journalism (for which she also received an award in 2017). She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2022.

She is a passionate advocate for authors’ rights, and is currently the Chair of the Society of Authors (SOA), and member of the Board of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).

Her hobbies are listed in Who’s Who as: “mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion of the system”, although she also enjoys obfuscation, sleaze, rebellion, witchcraft, armed robbery, tea and biscuits. She is not above bribery and would not necessarily refuse an offer involving perfume, diamonds, foreign travel or pink champagne. She works from a shed in her garden, plays in the band she first joined when she was 16, and lives with her husband in a little wood in Yorkshire.