Bestselling author of Summer at the Lake, Erica James dropped by One Book Lane to tell us tells us all about her new paperback The Dandelion Years, why she’d make an excellent private investigator and what makes her happy.
The Dandelion Years is out now in paperback, eBook and audio on 26th February.
Who is your favourite author?
Favouritism is a fickle thing, so it would rather depend on my mood and who and what I’ve recently read. But if I restrict my answer to contemporary authors, I’d say that if I’m in need of a fast-paced thriller, Daniel Silva’s novels fit the bill perfectly. In contrast I enjoy Anne Tyler’s novels for their apparent simplicity – a simplicity that is anything but.
What book do you most often recommend to friends?
Again and again I recommend We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. But having just finished reading Mapp & Lucia by E. F. Benson this has now become my new must-read book.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Lots! I have certain pens and pencils which must never be used by anybody else. The same goes for the mugs I drink from – these are special writing mugs and I buy new ones for each new book I start work on. I also use the same red files in which to keep my manuscript and every year after the book has been published (never before) I shred the manuscript (by hand and usually while watching the television) and put it into the compost bin in the garden. Ritual is incredibly important to me.
If you weren’t a writer what job would you have liked to go into?
Given how naturally inquisitive I am, I think I would make an excellent private investigator, or an amateur sleuth – a modern day Miss Marple!
I would make an excellent private investigator, or an amateur sleuth - a modern day Miss Marple!
What is the best thing about being a writer?
That I’m paid for being nosy!
What one item could you not live without?
The means by which I can make myself a cup of tea. I’m a voracious tea drinker, I drink it all day and every day while writing – it oils the wheels of my creaking old brain.
Tell us something that will shock your readers.
Everybody expects an author to have excelled at English literature at school – I as good as failed it at A level. I didn’t have a Scooby-do what any of it was about; it went completely over the top of my head.
What makes you happy?
Many things – finishing a working day with a completed chapter that earlier that morning I didn’t know existed; admiring my handiwork in the garden; jam doughnuts; and best of all, a hug with my gorgeous grandson.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’m still waiting for it!
The members of my dream book club would be …
Agatha Christie, Jerome K. Jerome, E.F Benson and E.M. Delafield, all being writers of some of my favourite books.