This month Erica James is in Australia to promote her new book, The Real Katie Lavender, and we were lucky to have her answer some questions for us.
There was one other question I would have liked the answer to but it seems my late night question typing is less than exemplary and one omitted letter meant the question made no sense, spell check doesn’t help when it’s still a word with the letter missing. I really need to re-read one more time before I hit send sometimes.
B&L: Your latest book, The Real Katie Lavender, was released on November 10th. What can you tell us about the book and your inspiration to write it?
The book is essentially about identity, about knowing who you are. The idea for it came about after watching part of a television programme that’s very popular in the UK. It’s called Who do You Think You are? and follows the process of a celebrity tracing his or her family tree. Unlike everyone else who seems to love the show, it thoroughly irritates me because I’m not interested in looking to the past, I’m much more concerned about today and tomorrow and those around me right now. But then I began to think about a character who might suddenly care very much about the past when she discovers the man who she’d thought was her father wasn’t.
B&L: Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration often comes from the least likely of places, sometimes it’s as a result of something someone tells me, or it can be a place I’ve visited that has an emotional pull on me. Or, as in the case of The Real Katie Lavender, it can come from something as bizarre as the dislike of a television show.
B&L: When/how did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I was in my late twenties when I began to wonder if writing a book would be as much fun as reading one. I had never done anything previously that would suggest I had any talent for doing such a thing but I made myself a New Year’s Resolution to give it a go and do it I did. And I’ve been doing it ever since!
B&L: What are you reading at the moment?
I have two books on the go right now – Sons of Camelot by Laurence Leamer, which follows the fate of the Kennedy family in the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy’s death, and To Kill a Tsar by Andrew Williams, a thriller set in St Petersburg, 1879.
B&L: Where is the most exciting place your writing has taken you?
Perhaps not the most exciting but certainly the most beautiful, Lake Como. I went there to carry out some research for my novel, Gardens of Delight and fell in love with the place. So much so I ended up buying an apartment there.
B&L: I believe you aren’t a fan of public speaking. Can you tell us how you manage to make it through?
I was once told to imagine the audience naked as a means to combat my nerves but frankly that’s just plain weird. Instead I’ve found the perfect formula to make the book event go with a happy swing and it doesn’t involve a drop of alcohol! I make it an evening of In Conversation With Erica James and I get the audience to participate as much as possible by asking me questions. It makes for a much more relaxed and enjoyable event, and for me that’s the key to making me feel less anxious.
B&L: If book events are so terrifying why do you keep doing them? Is it a requirement?
Well, they’re not quite so terrifying now, not since I found the way that works best for me, but while it’s not an absolute cast iron requirement to do book events, for obvious reasons publishers do like authors to promote their novels. More importantly, I think it’s a good thing for an author to engage with their readers, I know I enjoy doing that.
B&L: Is this your first visit to Australia? Are you going to have time to do some sightseeing? What sort of things would you like to visit?
Yes it is my first visit and I’m absolutely in love with Sydney; it’s far exceeded my expectations. A harbour cruise is definitely on my list of things to do whilst here, along with a trip to Watson Bay and maybe an evening at the Opera House.
B&L: Spare time, is this a concept you are familiar with and what do you do with it?
I read, garden and travel and earlier this year I took up ice-skating, something I’d wanted to do ever since I was a child.
B&L: What does being a woman mean to you?’
It means I got to be a mother and I consider that to be my finest achievement.
Thank you for taking some time out of your visit to speak with us, it was great to learn a little more about you and I am really looking forward to reading The Real Katie Lavender.