We catch up with best-selling author Joanne Harris who shares her travel must-haves and explains why she’s looking forward to joining Cunard’s literary cruise aboard the cruise line’s Queen Mary 2 at the end of the year.
What will you be doing during Cunard’s forthcoming Literature Festival at Sea?
I will be talking about my novels, signing books, taking questions, discussing literary ideas with other authors, and generally enjoying the whole vibe onboard.
Which other authors are you looking forward to seeing on the cruise?
Literary festivals are a great opportunity to meet readers, but they’re also a wonderful chance to catch up with friends in the business and to hear other authors read from their books. I can’t wait to hear Rachel Joyce speak – she is one of the few authors there who I don’t know personally, but I love her work.
The festival will be aboard QM2 as she sails to New York. Will you be cruising alone or taking your family with you?
I usually do festivals on my own. They’re always busy, so I wouldn’t get much time to spend with my family.
Will this be your first time or have you cruised before?
I’ve been lucky enough to sail and lecture aboard Queen Mary 2 on several previous occasions. My husband doesn’t fly, so Cunard is still the best way to get him to New York. We’ve also been on a number of eclipse-watching trips together, with various different lines to countries including Norway, Egypt and Greece.
What’s the best (and worst) country you have ever visited?
There’s no such thing as a bad country to visit. I’ve enjoyed all my travels, even when they’ve taken me into war zones and areas of deprivation, but I have a particular soft spot for the Big Island of Hawaii, which seems to combine all my favourite things and some of my happiest memories.
What destinations are still on your bucket list?
I’d love to visit Iceland some time – I have a particular fondness for both its history and its culture, and the landscape looks breathtaking.
Family and friends aside, who would be your perfect cruise companion?
The sci-fi author Ray Bradbury. Sadly he’s no longer with us, but I’m sure he’d have enjoyed cruising, and he was always tremendous fun to be with.
What do you always take with you when you travel?
I never go anywhere without my laptop and a big bundle of notebooks.
What’s your favourite food in the world?
I like to try local things wherever I go, so my favourite tends to vary according to where I am. But I’m especially fond of freshly caught seafood, locally grown fruit and the hottest of spices.
What’s the strangest thing you have eaten when you’ve been on holiday?
I don’t think of foods as inherently strange, only unfamiliar. In Africa I’ve eaten insects and grubs; in Asia, I’ve eaten sea slugs, urchins and confections of tofu made to look and taste like other things. There are very few dishes I wouldn’t try if they were offered to me – I think that the most elementary part of experiencing another culture is to engage with its traditions of food and hospitality.
What would be your favourite holiday tipple?
A nice merlot never goes amiss, does it?
Get on board
Join Joanne Harris and her fellow award-winning authors Ian Rankin, Kate Mosse, Alexander McCall Smith and Prue Leith for the Cunard Literature Festival at Sea aboard Queen Mary 2, departing Southampton for New York on 1 December 2020, from £1,199 including return flight, cunard.com