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It’s a cake and dagger case

In a quaint railway cottage in Masterton, books of romantic suspense, erotica, and historical fiction are being tapped out in the kitchen – along with recipe books containing a spicy story.

Author Jo-Anne Barker’s writing chair is tucked at the end of her kitchen bench where, to her right, she can see into her atmospheric garden and small orchard.

Straight ahead, her view is across her living room filled with her own paintings. Her keyboard sits beside her oven, and other tools for testing her recipes and photographing the results.

“The light is just right for all of it,” she said.

The inspiration to write a historical romance set in France hit when Barker was at Masterton Library and a book with ‘1752’ in the title fell off the shelf in front of her.

“Later, I went for a swim, and I was physically exhausted and just felt like I was in that time, and I just wrote and wrote.”

Her 16-year-old cat, Sibiu, is named after a place in Romania where Barker thought she was going to die during a research trip for the novel.

“I had started writing the book Pleasure and Payment set in Brittany but was finding it hard to find information on what it was like to live in that time,” Barker said.

“So I went to Romania, where the horse-and-cart is still used and where parts of the country feel like the 18th century. The museums and architecture are beautiful.”

Barker was travelling by car with a Romanian guide when an oncoming car seemed like it was going to hit them.

“I thought I was going to die. Romanian drivers behave in a crazy way,” she said. “Back in Masterton, a cat chose my property to have kittens and just one survived. I named her Sibiu, after the place I survived.”

Her trip to Transylvania led to a Romanian-inspired recipe book, with the bonus for readers of a re-telling of the story of Dracula – as a woman. Five of Barker’s baking books include short stories, to be read before a baking session, or while the baked goods cook in the oven.

Another of her recipe books, Cakes and Corsets, carries an intriguing blurb: “You wouldn’t know there are vegetables in my cakes, like you wouldn’t know I was wearing a corset, unless I told you. So, during the covid-19 lockdown period in New Zealand, I decided to combine the two and came up with Cakes & Corsets. I painted corsets inspired by the vegetables in my cakes.”

An old girl of St Matthew’s Collegiate in Masterton, as a teenager Barker lived with her parents and sister in motels, while a house they bought in Lincoln Rd was moved to rural Carterton and pieced back together.

“I enjoyed school but was restless and just wanted to travel,” she said. She answered an ad in the Times-Age for a golf caddie in Japan and got the job – sticking with it for two months despite “hating golf, but it was good money”.

She moved on to work in England and Scotland, before being caught as an overstayer trying to re-enter the UK after travels in India and Europe.

“I was taken in a paddy wagon to a detention centre and spent one night there, before being put on a plane to New Zealand.” Another of her recipe books, Cakes and Corsets, carries an intriguing blurb: “You wouldn’t know there are vegetables in my cakes, like you wouldn’t know I was wearing a corset, unless I told you. So, during the covid-19 lockdown period in New Zealand, I decided to combine the two and came up with Cakes & Corsets. I painted corsets inspired by the vegetables in my cakes.”

An old girl of St Matthew’s Collegiate in Masterton, as a teenager Barker lived with her parents and sister in motels, while a house they bought in Lincoln Rd was moved to rural Carterton and pieced back together.

“I enjoyed school but was restless and just wanted to travel,” she said. She answered an ad in the Times-Age for a golf caddie in Japan and got the job – sticking with it for two months despite “hating golf, but it was good money”.

She moved on to work in England and Scotland, before being caught as an overstayer trying to re-enter the UK after travels in India and Europe.

“I was taken in a paddy wagon to a detention centre and spent one night there, before being put on a plane to New Zealand.”

Barker has studied different art forms and worked in the areas of aromatherapy, reflexology, and clinical nutrition.

A diagnosis of arthritis meant a change in perspective and goals, with Barker focusing on writing, illustrating and formatting her fiction and recipe books from the comfort of her kitchen.

“I like thrillers,” she said. “And have many ideas for books with different genres. The romantic suspense genre excites me the most.”

Her cookbooks reflect her knowledge as a nutritionist, with creations such as purple corn biscuits, pea cupcakes, pumpkin-seed fudge slice, and yam cupcakes.

“For my recipe books, I get inspiration by researching superfoods and thinking about how I can put them in a cake.”

And Barker’s worlds of cake, romance and art are often folded into each other to create a velvety mix. Her Seduced by Cake trilogy is for sale on Smashwords, a global e-book retailer. The first book tells the story of Scarlet and her boyfriend Matt, who don’t have the money for a deposit on a house, so the seduction of the new dentist in town is required.

Current projects include romantic-suspense fiction in which people from history meet fairytale characters – which Barker describes as “Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd meet Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella”.

“I do take artistic licence,” she said.

She’s also compiling a recipe book of steamed cakes: “I’m happy to help people save electricity by steaming cakes on the fire, instead of turning on the oven.”

Jo-Anne Barker’s books can be found on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Orders can be made via email at [email protected] Another of her recipe books, Cakes and Corsets, carries an intriguing blurb: “You wouldn’t know there are vegetables in my cakes, like you wouldn’t know I was wearing a corset, unless I told you. So, during the covid-19 lockdown period in New Zealand, I decided to combine the two and came up with Cakes & Corsets. I painted corsets inspired by the vegetables in my cakes.”

An old girl of St Matthew’s Collegiate in Masterton, as a teenager Barker lived with her parents and sister in motels, while a house they bought in Lincoln Rd was moved to rural Carterton and pieced back together.

“I enjoyed school but was restless and just wanted to travel,” she said. She answered an ad in the Times-Age for a golf caddie in Japan and got the job – sticking with it for two months despite “hating golf, but it was good money”.

She moved on to work in England and Scotland, before being caught as an overstayer trying to re-enter the UK after travels in India and Europe.

“I was taken in a paddy wagon to a detention centre and spent one night there, before being put on a plane to New Zealand.”

Barker has studied different art forms and worked in the areas of aromatherapy, reflexology, and clinical nutrition.

A diagnosis of arthritis meant a change in perspective and goals, with Barker focusing on writing, illustrating and formatting her fiction and recipe books from the comfort of her kitchen.

“I like thrillers,” she said. “And have many ideas for books with different genres. The romantic suspense genre excites me the most.”

Her cookbooks reflect her knowledge as a nutritionist, with creations such as purple corn biscuits, pea cupcakes, pumpkin-seed fudge slice, and yam cupcakes.

“For my recipe books, I get inspiration by researching superfoods and thinking about how I can put them in a cake.”

And Barker’s worlds of cake, romance and art are often folded into each other to create a velvety mix. Her Seduced by Cake trilogy is for sale on Smashwords, a global e-book retailer. The first book tells the story of Scarlet and her boyfriend Matt, who don’t have the money for a deposit on a house, so the seduction of the new dentist in town is required.

Current projects include romantic-suspense fiction in which people from history meet fairytale characters – which Barker describes as “Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd meet Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella”.

“I do take artistic licence,” she said.

She’s also compiling a recipe book of steamed cakes: “I’m happy to help people save electricity by steaming cakes on the fire, instead of turning on the oven.”

Jo-Anne Barker’s books can be found on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Orders can be made via email at [email protected] In a quaint railway cottage in Masterton, books of romantic suspense, erotica, and historical fiction are being tapped out in the kitchen – along with recipe books containing a spicy story or two.

Author Jo-Anne Barker’s writing chair is tucked at the end of her kitchen bench where, to her right, she can see into her atmospheric garden and small orchard.

Straight ahead, her view is across her living room is filled with her own paintings. Her keyboard sits beside her oven, and other tools for testing her recipes and photographing the results.

“The light is just right for all of it,” she said.

The inspiration to write a historical romance set in France hit when Barker was at Masterton Library and a book with ‘1752’ in the title fell off the shelf in front of her.

“Later, I went for a swim, and I was physically exhausted and just felt like I was in that time, and I just wrote and wrote.”

Her 16-year-old cat, Sibiu, is named after a place in Romania where Barker thought she was going to die during a research trip for the novel.

“I had started writing the book Pleasure and Payment set in Brittany but was finding it hard to find information on what it was like to live in that time,” Barker said.

“So I went to Romania, where the horse-and-cart is still used and where parts of the country feel like the 18th century. The museums and architecture are beautiful.”

Barker was travelling by car with a Romanian guide when an oncoming car seemed like it was going to hit them.

“I thought I was going to die. Romanian drivers behave in a crazy way,” she said. “Back in Masterton, a cat chose my property to have kittens and just one survived. I named her Sibiu, after the place I survived.”

Her trip to Transylvania led to a Romanian-inspired recipe book, with the bonus for readers of a re-telling of the story of Dracula – as a woman. Five of Barker’s baking books include short stories, to be read before a baking session, or while the baked goods cook in the oven.

Another of her recipe books, Cakes and Corsets, carries an intriguing blurb: “You wouldn’t know there are vegetables in my cakes, like you wouldn’t know I was wearing a corset, unless I told you. So, during the covid-19 lockdown period in New Zealand, I decided to combine the two and came up with Cakes & Corsets. I painted corsets inspired by the vegetables in my cakes.”

An old girl of St Matthew’s Collegiate in Masterton, as a teenager Barker lived with her parents and sister in motels, while a house they bought in Lincoln Rd was moved to rural Carterton and pieced back together.

“I enjoyed school but was restless and just wanted to travel,” she said. She answered an ad in the Times-Age for a golf caddie in Japan and got the job – sticking with it for two months despite “hating golf, but it was good money”.

She moved on to work in England and Scotland, before being caught as an overstayer trying to re-enter the UK after travels in India and Europe.

“I was taken in a paddy wagon to a detention centre and spent one night there, before being put on a plane to New Zealand.”

Barker has studied different art forms and worked in the areas of aromatherapy, reflexology, and clinical nutrition.

A diagnosis of arthritis meant a change in perspective and goals, with Barker focusing on writing, illustrating and formatting her fiction and recipe books from the comfort of her kitchen.

“I like thrillers,” she said. “And have many ideas for books with different genres. The romantic suspense genre excites me the most.”

Her cookbooks reflect her knowledge as a nutritionist, with creations such as purple corn biscuits, pea cupcakes, pumpkin-seed fudge slice, and yam cupcakes.

“For my recipe books, I get inspiration by researching superfoods and thinking about how I can put them in a cake.”

And Barker’s worlds of cake, romance and art are often folded into each other to create a velvety mix. Her Seduced by Cake trilogy is for sale on Smashwords, a global e-book retailer. The first book tells the story of Scarlet and her boyfriend Matt, who don’t have the money for a deposit on a house, so the seduction of the new dentist in town is required.

Current projects include romantic-suspense fiction in which people from history meet fairytale characters – which Barker describes as “Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd meet Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella”.

“I do take artistic licence,” she said.

She’s also compiling a recipe book of steamed cakes: “I’m happy to help people to save electricity by steaming cakes on the fire, instead of turning on the oven.”

Jo-Anne Barker’s books can be found on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Orders can be made via email at [email protected]

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