Judge Judy's own book test - Andy Cooper talks to Judy Finnigan

PUBLISHED: 18:33 24 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:08 20 February 2013

Eloise by Judy Finnigan is published by Sphere, priced £16.99.

Eloise by Judy Finnigan is published by Sphere, priced £16.99.

She's more used to choosing books which impress her, so how is Judy Finnigan coping with being an author in her own right? Andy Cooper spoke to her to find out

Judge Judys own book test - Andy Cooper talks to Judy Finnigan


Shes more used to choosing books which impress her, so how is Judy Finnigan coping with being an author in her own right? Andy Cooper spoke to her to find out

The story so far . . . you are known as one half of Britains most successful television duos, you are inextricably linked with Cornwall, you are known as someone who can make or break a new book and thus have knowledge of what works in that fiercely competitive marketplace.
So its only logical that it will be easy for you to dash off a best-seller of your own, woven around a narrative set across the county, and it will be a massive hit and allow you to grace our airwaves as a well-known author. Correct?
Well possibly. But despite that impeccable pedigree, Judy Finnigan is taking nothing for granted and she is prepared to admit that it has taken a lot of hard graft and no little heartache for us to arrive at the publication of her debut novel Eloise.
It hasnt just happened, she explains to me as she relaxes in Cornwall ahead of the publicity onslaught surrounding the books launch. I havent found it easy to just sit down and write the book. In fact its been something thats been in my head since about 2006.
I already had the prologue sorted in my mind and the shape of the story was there, but it was in no way fully formed. Other things then took over for a time in my life and it just sort of got left on the shelf for a while.
Those other things of course were the hugely successful television career she has enjoyed alongside her husband and fellow Cornwall devotee Richard Madeley. Richard and Judy its like Morecambe and Wise, Marks and Spencer or bangers n mash; one doesnt somehow sound right without the other.
But latterly the couple have been branching out to do their own thing. Their travels around various television channels with their tried-and-trusted format are well documented, but when the latest incarnation ended on digital channel Watch in 2009, we have tended to see more of Richard than Judy in the spotlight.
That may be about to change with the publication of Eloise, a ghostly, gripping story which name checks many a familiar place in Cornwall.
And familiar with Cornwall it may well be because its author is something of an expert on the county. Known now for having a home in Talland Bay, Judys knowledge of Cornwall goes back much further than her more recent, high- profile association.
I first started coming down to Cornwall when I was a child to places like Newquay and so I already loved the place from my memories of it.
Then when Richard and I first got together, we wanted a way of integrating him as easily as possible with my two boys from my first marriage, and so in 1984 we rented a cottage down here and holidayed all together for the first time.
So, Cornwall is special to me for a number of reasons. I just find the county so fascinating and diverse that there is always something to discover here.
When I put it to Judy that although Eloise is a novel, it also serves as something of a travelogue for the real Cornwall which those truly familiar with the county would truly appreciate, she readily concurs.
I feel Cornwall doesnt really always match the image that people elsewhere in the country give it, she reveals. There are a great many contrasts down here and thats not always reflected in writing about Cornwall.
Of course, given the nature of the book, the thing which attracted me from a story point of view was, I think, that there is a great deal of mystery about many of the places in Cornwall, so its an ideal setting for a ghost story.
For Judy the real business of completing the novel only truly started once television commitments had been dealt with. And so, she has spent much of the last few months, anchored at the end of a large wooden table in the kitchen of the couples Cornish hideaway, setting to work on properly honing the narrative.
Its really my favourite place to work and often Richard will be at one of the table on his laptop and Ill be at the other end on mine and we are working away on different projects.
But its good to bounce things off him now and again and he has been a strong supporter of the book.
Books loom large in the latter-day careers of the couple thanks to the compelling power of their book club, a television phenomenon which has discovered and launched some major writing talents over the years.
Its always fun to do the book club and we are proud of what it has achieved and I hope it promotes books and the idea of reading.
We agree we are both traditional book people rather than wanting to read electronic versions, but Judy confirms if it helps to promote reading she favours any form of book print or online.
I think its great that books can be seen and read on these devices in fact, Eloise is available as an eBook too but I just love the feel and the sensation, even the smell of a book, and so I think Ill be sticking to the more traditional format, she reveals.
She readily confesses that the couples Talland Bay home now seems to be their permanent bolthole whenever they can arrange it, and they only really return to their London home when work commitments demand it.
So finally, what would this arch devotee of Cornwall describe as her perfect day in the county?
Well, being Cornwall it will be weather-dependent, she laughs, but if its a lovely day, I would like to get up and enjoy breakfast on our patio, which is a real sun trap.
Id then like to wander down to Talland Beach for a walk and have a cup of tea at the caf there. Then it would be on to Polkerris for lunch at Sams On The Beach, which we both absolutely love.
If distance is no object then I think I would like dinner at the Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes, or if we are staying closer to home then the Talland Bay Hotel near to us is fabulous.
We are so spoilt for choice though, that I am not sure a day would fit in all we would want to do!

Eloise by Judy Finnigan is published by Sphere, priced 16.99.

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