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Erica James - Author

About the Author

With an insatiable appetite for other people's business, Erica James will readily strike up conversation with strangers in the hope of unearthing a useful gem for her writing. She finds it the best way to write authentic characters for her novels, although her two grown-up sons claim they will never recover from a childhood spent in a perpetual state of embarrassment at their mother's compulsion.


The author of many bestselling novels, including Gardens of Delight which won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, and her recent Sunday Times top ten bestseller, Promises, Promises. Erica now divides her time between Cheshire and Lake Como in Italy, where she strikes up conversation with unsuspecting Italians.

 

Author photo © Rebecca Braund

 

Below is a Q&A with this author.

 

Who’s your favourite author?
My favourite author is currently Anne Tyler. I love the way she writes about the complexities of family life and relationships. Her writing is always penetrating and incisive and pared right back to the essentials. In my opinion, she’s a classic example of less being more.

What’s the first book you remember reading?
The first book I remember reading was a library book and I was probably about four years old. I have a vague memory that the story was about a mouse. Funnily enough, it’s not the words I remember, but the pictures, especially those of the mouse trekking through the snow in the night beneath a starry, moonlit sky to reach whatever destination he was heading for.

Where do you live? And why?
I live in Cheshire in a small rural hamlet. Moreover, I actually live in a converted barn which I used as the setting for my novel A Sense of Belonging. It’s purely by coincidence that I’ve ended up living here, and it certainly felt a little surreal in the first few weeks of moving in – every time I opened my front door, I kept expecting to bump into my characters.

Typewriter, Word Processor, or pen?
I use a computer to write my novels and because I can touch type, I find this by far the easiest way to go about things. My only problem is that if there’s a problem with the computer then I’m stuck. I haven’t a clue how it works and doubt I ever will. In my defence(and it’s a pretty poor defence, I admit), I’ve managed all these years to drive a car without knowing what goes on under the bonnet so I’m happy to apply the same logic.

Name your favourite literary hero and villain
Without doubt, my favourite literary hero is Reggie Perrin from David Nobbs’ novels. I love the wit of the man, and his quiet desperation to beat the system. The man is a legend!

Would it be very crass of me to say that my favourite literary villain is of my own creation? If it’s allowed, I’d like to name and shame Dominic McKendrick from Love and Devotion. He’s the archetypal misunderstood man!

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Surrey but grew up on Hayling Island in Hampshire after moving there at the age of four. As a teenager I lived in a flat directly opposite the beach and next to a funfair. During the summer months I would go to sleep to the sound of music blaring and the smell of fish and chips wafting through the window. Growing up by the sea has left its mark on me – a holiday isn’t a holiday unless I’m a stone’s throw from the water.

Did you enjoy school? What is your most vivid memory of your school years? School for me was a secondary modern that morphed into a comprehensive. I did CSEs (I wasn’t smart enough to do O levels) and whilst I was content enough at school, puttering along in my happy ignorance, I’m appalled now when I think just how little I actually learned. The teachers’ expectations for us were non-existent, so surprise, surprise, few of us did well.

My most vivid memory of school was when I was at primary school. I was about six years old and together with a girl I didn’t really know that well, we took it upon ourselves to flood the outside toilets by stuffing yards and yards of slippery toilet paper down the pan and then yanking on the chain until the water level rose and cascaded over the seat and down onto the ground. We’d successfully flooded three cubicles when another girl – the horrible sneak! – went and fetched a teacher. I should imagine the teacher is no longer with us, but the ‘horrible sneak’ became my best friend, and still is to this day.

Name your top 5 pieces of music.
I have an eclectic taste in music but if forced to choose my top five pieces of music they would be as follows:
R.E.M.’s Find The River.
Nanci Griffith’s Waiting For Love.
Kathleen Ferrier singing What is Life? from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice.
Michael Nyman’s Chasing Sheep is Best Left to Shepherds.
Judy Garland singing It’s Yourself.

Who do you most admire and why?
The people I admire most are my sons, Edward and Samuel. And why? For putting up with me!

What jobs did you have before you started writing?
Compared to most other writers, my CV is extraordinarily dull and reads something like this:
Aged 13 chalet maid in a holiday camp.
Aged 14 - 16 ice cream and burger vendor in a beach kiosk.
Aged 18 secretarial work in an Oxford college.
Aged 19 - 24 a series of secretarial jobs ranging from a mining explosives company to a firm of estate agents.
Aged 24 - 35 mother and general bossy-boots.
Aged 36 - ta-daar! - published author.

If your house was burning down what would you save?
If my house was burning down and I could save only one thing (assuming the obvious, that no one needed rescuing), it would be the manuscript of the current book I was working on. The thought of all that hard work going up in smoke would be too awful.

Tell us about your best or worst holiday experience.
My best holiday experience is a recurring one and does wonders to bolster up my ego. People often mistake me for either my sons’ sister, or a girlfriend of theirs. We’ve been on several holidays recently when hotel staff or other guests have asked what the relationship is between the three of us. If it wasn’t so embarrassing for my sons (aged 18 and 20), I’d say we were a nice little ménage a trois!

What do you do when you are not writing? How do you relax? What are your hobbies? When I’m not writing I relax by reading (I try to read a book a week), going to the gym (in an effort to stave off the dreaded writer’s bum!), gardening and travelling. Ever since I was 16 years old and travelled to Paris on my own to stay with a friend, I’ve had the travel bug. I love going somewhere new, but am equally happy to return to a favourite place, such as Corfu or Venice. But I’m afraid I’m not one of those adventurous types who enjoy roughing it – a trekking holiday across the Sahara wouldn’t be for me!

What single thing might people be surprised to learn about you?

I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that I’m such a big fan of the band R.E.M. I travelled all the way to New York to see them last year. It was a very extravagant and impulsive thing to do, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to get on a plane as I was that day, but it was worth every penny.

Featured books by Erica James

The Dandelion Years

The Dandelion Years

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/06/2015

'Someone had made a perfect job of creating a place in which to hide a notebook ...there was no address, only a date: September 1943 ...' Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling cottage on the edge of a Suffolk village, it provided a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood. Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to broken and battered books, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a hidden notebook - and realises someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own - Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love.

ebook of the month
Summer at the Lake

Summer at the Lake

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/06/2014

Lake Como - beautiful, enchanting, romantic...For Floriana, it is the place where the love of her life is getting married to another woman. And she's been invited to the wedding. For Esme, it is where, over 60 years ago, she fell in love for the first time. So often she's wondered what happened to the man who stole her heart - and changed the course of her life. Adam is in danger of burying himself entirely in his work after his girlfriend left him. Could a trip to Lake Como be the distraction he needs? Now it's time for each of them to understand that the past is not only another country, it can also cast haunting shadows over everyone's lives...

ebook of the month
The Real Katie Lavender

The Real Katie Lavender

Author: Erica James Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/11/2011

ebook of the month

Other books by Erica James

Swallowtail Summer

Swallowtail Summer

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/07/2019

A captivating story about friendship, making changes, and learning to live life to the fullest from SUNDAY TIMES bestseller Erica JamesA cherished home, a circle of friends and a summer that will change everything... Linston End has been the summer holiday home for three families for many years. A rambling thatched house nestled on the water's edge on the Norfolk Broads, it's a haven of long, lazy picnics on the river, gin and tonics in the garden; a place to spend time together. But this year, the friends are rocked by unexpected news, and it seems that Linston End will never be the same again. For some, this summer feels like the end. For others, it might just be the beginning. . . 'Joyously readable' Woman & Home 'I wanted it to go on forever' Cathy Bramley

Swallowtail Summer This summer escape to the country with bestselling author Erica James

Swallowtail Summer This summer escape to the country with bestselling author Erica James

Author: Erica James Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/04/2019

A captivating story about friendship, making changes, and learning to live life to the fullest from SUNDAY TIMES bestseller Erica James. They thought they were friends for life - until one summer, everything changed . . . Linston End on the Norfolk Broads has been the holiday home to three families for many years. The memories of their time there are ingrained in their hearts: picnics on the river, gin and tonics in the pavilion at dusk, hours spent seeking out the local swallowtail butterflies. Everyone together. But widower Alastair has been faced with a few of life's surprises recently. Now, he is about to shock his circle of friends with the decisions he has made - and the changes it will mean for them all. For some, it feels like the end. For others, it might just be the beginning . . . 'A glorious summer story' Cathy Bramley 'Joyously readable' Woman & Home

Swallowtail Summer

Swallowtail Summer

Author: Erica James Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 18/04/2019

It was the summer it all ended . . . It was the summer a new story began. Linston End has been the summer home to three families for several decades. The memories of their time there are ingrained in their hearts: picnics on the river, gin and tonics in the pavilion at dusk, hours spent seeking out the local swallowtail butterflies. Everyone together. But recently widowed Alastair is about to shock his circle of friends with the decisions he has made - and the changes it will mean for them all... Can these friends learn to live life to its fullest?

Swallowtail Summer

Swallowtail Summer

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/03/2019

They thought they were friends for life - until one summer, everything changed . . . Linston End on the Norfolk Broads has been the holiday home to three families for many years. The memories of their time there are ingrained in their hearts: picnics on the river, gin and tonics in the pavilion at dusk, hours spent seeking out the local swallowtail butterflies. Everyone together. But widower Alastair has been faced with a few of life's surprises recently. Now, he is about to shock his circle of friends with the decisions he has made - and the changes it will mean for them all. For some, it feels like the end. For others, it might just be the beginning . . . A story about friendship, making changes, and learning to live life to the fullest from bestseller Erica James.

Coming Home to Island House

Coming Home to Island House

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 29/05/2018

From Erica James, bestselling author of Summer at the Lake, comes an enchanting tale of one family coming together and finding their way. It's the summer of 1939, and after touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, the charismatic Jack Devereux. But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together. With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can the habits of a lifetime be changed in one week? And can Romily, a woman who thrives on adventure, cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her? Readers are captivated by Coming Home to Island House: 'Erica James at her very best...a fulfilling, hugely enjoyable read' 'This book felt like a luxurious treat' 'A wonderful thread of love, grace, loss and forgiveness... Highly recommended' 'One of those glorious stories where you don't want to put the book down!' 'I feel completely in love with all aspects of this books - the characters, the setting and the writing. I absolutely adored it' 'A captivating and thoroughly enjoyable read. If you enjoy superbly written character-driven stories this this one is a must-read' 'A beautiful story about family and friendship...a gorgeous heartwarming style'

Coming Home to Island House

Coming Home to Island House

Author: Erica James Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 25/01/2018

Summer 1939: After touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, Jack Devereux. But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called to his bedside. With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can Romily cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?

Coming Home to Island House

Coming Home to Island House

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/11/2017

From Erica James, bestselling author of Summer at the Lake, comes an enchanting tale of one family coming together and finding their way. It's the summer of 1939, and after touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, the charismatic Jack Devereux. But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together. With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can the habits of a lifetime be changed in one week? And can Romily, a woman who thrives on adventure, cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?

Tell It To The Skies

Tell It To The Skies

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 13/07/2017

*Includes an exclusive extract of Erica's moving and life-affirming new novel, publishing in 2018!* Set in the beautiful city of Venice, a captivating novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Summer at the Lake. Venice has been Lydia's home for many years, a place where she has found peace and fulfilment. Then one day she glimpses a young man's face in the crowd that threatens to change everything. He's a heart-stopping reminder of a dreadful secret she believed she had banished to the past... As a young child, Lydia and her sister were sent to live with grandparents they'd never even met before. It was a cruel and loveless new world for them and it forced Lydia to grow up fast. She learned to keep secrets and to trust sparingly, and through it all she was shadowed by grief and guilt. Now, twenty-eight years later, Lydia is persuaded to leave behind the safe new life she has created for herself and return to England to face the past. And maybe her future. The perfect escapist read for fans of Santa Montefiore and Katie Fforde.

Song of the Skylark

Song of the Skylark

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/06/2016

Lizzie has an unfortunate knack for attracting bad luck, but this time she's hit the jackpot. Losing her heart to her boss at the radio station where she works leads directly to losing her job, and with no money in the bank she's forced to swallow her pride and return home to her parents. As if that wasn't bad enough, her mother finds her work at the local care home for the elderly, and it's there that Lizzie meets Mrs Dallimore. In her nineties, Mrs Dallimore also finds herself in a situation which she's reluctantly coming to terms with. Old age has finally caught up with her, and with her life drawing to a close she gives in to the temptation to relive the past by sharing it with Lizzie. She tells Lizzie of the day when, as a young girl, and shortly before the outbreak of World War II, she left her home in America to cross the Atlantic to England where she hoped to meet her English grandparents for the first time. At best she hoped for a family reconciliation, but before long her visit turned into so much more. As Lizzie listens to Mrs Dallimore's story, she begins to realize that she's not the only person to attract bad luck, or make mistakes, and maybe things aren't so bad for her after all . . .

The Song of the Skylark

The Song of the Skylark

Author: Erica James Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 10/03/2016

Lizzie has always had bad luck. Losing her heart to her boss leads to her losing her job and with no money in the bank, Lizzie finds herself forced to move back home with her parents. Now in her nineties, Mrs Dallimore is also coming to terms with her situation. Old age is finally catching up with her. As they form the bond of unexpected friendship, Lizzie begins to realise that she's not the only person to attract bad luck, and that sometimes life has a way of surprising you...

The Dandelion Years

The Dandelion Years

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/06/2015

'Someone had made a perfect job of creating a place in which to hide a notebook ...there was no address, only a date: September 1943 ...' Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling cottage on the edge of a Suffolk village, it provided a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood. Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to broken and battered books, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a hidden notebook - and realises someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own - Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love.

ebook of the month
Act of Faith

Act of Faith

Author: Erica James Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 02/04/2015

It's almost Christmas. But for Ali, the season of good cheer is the anniversary of her baby's death. She gives in to her best friend Sarah's cajoling to share the festive season with her. The only trouble is, it means having to be nice to Sarah's awful husband, Trevor. Ali takes it upon herself to play God with her friend's incomprehensible marriage. But Ali's meddling has consequences even she could not have foreseen...

The Dandelion Years

The Dandelion Years

Author: Erica James Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 26/02/2015

Dandelion Years

Dandelion Years

Author: Erica James Format: eBook Release Date: 23/12/2014

A gorgeous tale of friendship and love from Sunday Times bestseller Erica James. Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling pink cottage on the edge of the Suffolk village of Melbury Green, its enchanting garden provided a fairy-tale playground of seclusion, a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood. Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to the broken, battered books that find their way to her, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a notebook carefully concealed in an old Bible - and realising someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own - Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love...

The Holiday

The Holiday

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 31/07/2014

A long summer holiday on the beautiful island of Corfu is just what Izzy Jordan needs, but is she prepared for the romance and drama? From the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author of SUMMER AT THE LAKE Torn between struggling to live up to the expectations of being a Modern Woman and ridding herself of the effect of a repressed upbringing, Izzy Jordan would be the first to admit that it's time to take stock of her life. She's thirty-one, with a teaching career on the skids - not surprising, really, given that she harbours a strong desire to lock her pupils in the art room cupboard and throw away the key. She also has a manipulative mother and an ex-boyfriend whose parting shot was to tell her she was boring in bed! So when she's invited to spend the summer on Corfu and is offered the chance of a no-strings holiday romance with the irresistible Theo, what should she do? Go for it, or listen to the voice of Modern Woman and tell him to sling his hook? Just as she thinks she's made up her mind, along comes Mark, whose turbulent past sets in motion a series of dramatic events...