I grew up on the south coast of England, a stone’s throw from the sea, and that is where I’ve set my latest novel Mothers and Daughters. With the beach my playground as a child, I’ve always been drawn to water whether it’s the sea, a lake, a river, a pond or a trickling brook, which I’m lucky enough to have running through my garden. It was some years before I realised that I had subconsciously been including water in many of my books.
I’m a mother of two sons, and some might say I’m not qualified to write a book centred on the relationship between a mother and her daughters. But being an author is all about putting yourself in the shoes of your characters and that means you must have empathy. Sometimes I think I have too much empathy because occasionally my characters become so real to me, I feel too much of their pain – pain which I’m responsible for putting them through, and I end up in a terrible state.
Just as Naomi in Mothers and Daughters is a keen gardener, so am I. I love nothing more than when spring arrives and everything in the garden bursts into life. From then on, it’s a constant delight as the weeks pass and plants, which are like ‘old friends’ reappear in the flowerbeds. The combination of creating a garden and nurturing it is an immensely satisfying process, a balm to the soul.
I’m obsessed with knitting and always have a project on the go, and when I’m not doing that, I’m straining my eyes with twelfth scale needlepoint which I started doing in the first lockdown. A couple of years ago my publisher in Norway organised for the pattern of a cardigan I’d designed to be rewritten into Norwegian and sold as a kit complete with yarn. It was one of my proudest moments.
I have a big addiction to tea. When I’m writing I drink gallons of the stuff to keep the cogs of my brain turning. I have a ritual that with every new book I write, I buy a new set of bone china mugs to drink from. Nobody else is allowed to use them, only me. I think of them as my Lucky Mugs.
I’m a bit of a petrolhead and a massive Formula 1 fan. I religiously watch as many of the races as I can throughout the season which starts in March and ends in November. I’ve been to a few races and absolutely loved the high-octane atmosphere. There’s nothing like it!
I’m naturally a very self-contained person, which is perfect for being an author. I’m lucky in that I never feel lonely as I have plenty of company in the form of my characters with whom I spend so much time. Having lived alone for so many
years, my two sons left home a very long time ago, I think I’d be a nightmare to live with as I’m ridiculously set in my ways. My way or the highway!
Mothers and Daughters by Erica James is published on 17th March in hardback, ebook and audio download (HB, £14.99)