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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

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
Erica James - Seven Great Novels

Erica James - Seven Great Novels

Author: Erica James Format: eBook Release Date: 04/04/2013

Seven brilliant novels from one of contemporary women's fiction's best writers. Full of Erica James's signature warmth, wit and compelling characters.Comprises: AIRS AND GRACES; ACT OF FAITH; PRECIOUS TIME; HIDDEN TALENTS; LOVE AND DEVOTION; GARDENS OF DELIGHT; TELL IT TO THE SKIES.

Erica James Collection (ebook)

Erica James Collection (ebook)

Author: Erica James Format: eBook Release Date: 27/10/2011

Erica James's true-to-life novels are well observed, insightful and compulsive. We all have dreams, but not all of us have the courage or opportunity to follow them...'This book draws you into the lives of these characters, and often makes you want to scream at them to try and make them see reason. Funny, sad and frustrating, but an excellent compulsive read'Woman's Realm Contains: A BREATH OF FRESH AIR, TIME FOR A CHANGE, A SENSE OF BELONGING, THE HOLIDAY, PARADISE HOUSE

Democratic Insecurities Violence, Trauma, and Intervention in Haiti

Democratic Insecurities Violence, Trauma, and Intervention in Haiti

Author: Erica James Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/07/2010

Democratic Insecurities focuses on the ethics of military and humanitarian intervention in Haiti, during and after Haiti's 1991 coup. In this remarkable ethnography of violence, Erica Caple James explores the traumas of Haitian victims whose experiences were denied by U.S. officials and recognized only selectively by other humanitarian providers. Using vivid first-person accounts from women survivors, James raises important new questions about humanitarian aid, structural violence, and political insecurity. She discusses the politics of postconflict assistance to Haiti and the challenges of promoting democracy, human rights, and justice in societies that experience chronic insecurity. Similarly, she finds that efforts to promote political development and psychosocial rehabilitation may fail because of competition, strife, and corruption among the individuals and institutions that implement such initiatives.

Democratic Insecurities Violence, Trauma, and Intervention in Haiti

Democratic Insecurities Violence, Trauma, and Intervention in Haiti

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/07/2010

Democratic Insecurities focuses on the ethics of military and humanitarian intervention in Haiti, during and after Haiti's 1991 coup. In this remarkable ethnography of violence, Erica Caple James explores the traumas of Haitian victims whose experiences were denied by U.S. officials and recognized only selectively by other humanitarian providers. Using vivid first-person accounts from women survivors, James raises important new questions about humanitarian aid, structural violence, and political insecurity. She discusses the politics of postconflict assistance to Haiti and the challenges of promoting democracy, human rights, and justice in societies that experience chronic insecurity. Similarly, she finds that efforts to promote political development and psychosocial rehabilitation may fail because of competition, strife, and corruption among the individuals and institutions that implement such initiatives.

It's the Little Things

It's the Little Things

Author: Erica James Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 01/06/2009

This title comes from Romantic Novel of the Year award winner Erica James. It is a compelling story about the moments when everything changes, and how we lead our lives in the days and years that follow. Dan and Sally Oliver and their friend Chloe Hennessey are lucky to be alive. Three years on, after surviving one of the world's biggest natural disasters - the Boxing Day tsunami - their lives have changed dramatically. Dan and Sally are now parents. Dan is enjoying being a stay-at-home father taking care of their young son, and Sally is the bread winner and loves her job as a partner in a Manchester law firm. The arrangement has so far worked well, but when Dan starts to question whether Sally has got her priorities right, the cracks in their marriage begin to appear. Dan and Sally have everything Chloe wishes for in life - a happy marriage and a beautiful child. Dumped by her long term boyfriend just weeks after the tsunami, she's been on a mission ever since to find the perfect father for the child she craves. When she meets Seth Hawthorne, she thinks she may have hit the jackpot. But is Seth the man she thinks he is? This recording is unabridged. Typically abridged audiobooks are not more than 60 per cent of the author's work and as low as 30 per cent with characters and plotlines removed.

Time For A Change

Time For A Change

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/05/2008

A vibrant, often humorous tale of life, love - and infidelity - from the bestselling author of PROMISES, PROMISES. Hilary had always thought she'd lived a charmed life. With a caring husband, David, and two lively children, she took an active part in both family and village life. Then, one Monday morning, Hilary's world is turned upside down. She discovers that David is having an affair. How could he? How could he put at risk their children and everything they have built together over the years? The question is, what should Hilary do? Turn a blind eye, much as neighbour Cindy has done over her own husband's various dalliances? Confront him, as her outspoken new friend Georgia suggests? Or perhaps she should throw herself at attractive newcomer to the village Nick Bradshaw... Whatever happens, it seems certain that for Hilary, life is never going to be quite the same again.

Precious Time

Precious Time

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/05/2008

When Clara gives up her safe, conventional life and takes off with her son on a three-month trip, she is soon forced to confront problems she thought she would never have to face... In order to spend more time with her four-year-old son Ned, Clara Costello trades in her secure, well-paid job and two-seater sports car for a camper van called Winnie, and the three of them set off on a mystery tour of England. Of course, her friends and family think she's gone mad. But when they arrive in Deaconsbridge, a small market town on the edge of the Peak District, Clara and Ned become drawn into the lives of the locals. Two in particular seem destined to get under Clara's skin: Gabriel Liberty, a cranky widower who terrifies his family; and Archie Merryman, a local dealer in second-hand furniture who possesses a heart of gold. Then Clara finds herself having to confront a problem much closer to home, and one she had hoped she would never have to face...

A Sense Of Belonging

A Sense Of Belonging

Author: Erica James Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/05/2008

A terrific novel of love, life and friendship from the Sunday Times bestselling author. In the heart of the Cheshire countryside, Cholmford Hall Mews, a converted eighteenth-century barn, is far more than an exclusive home to its new inhabitants. For Jessica Lloyd, it is a haven where she can recover from a love affair long past its sell-by date; Amanda Fergusson, whose marriage is one of straightforward convenience, is determined to get the most out of the situation; for Kate Morris it offers a fresh start where her love for newly divorced Alec can flourish; and for Josh Crawford, his new home offers a sanctuary where he can come to terms with the most devastating news of his life. In their different ways, all the newcomers to Cholmford Hall Mews are searching for something - love, peace, a sense of belonging. But will they find rather more than they bargained for...?