Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Bit Of Nostalgia (Or, The Time I Met A Bestselling Author)

When I was eleven or twelve, my father introduced me to a friend of his.  Dad was self-employed as a personal driver, and one of his regular fares was a rather charming lady named Erica James who lived not far from him.  My dad thought it was important that I meet her, as she was a recently published author with a growing fanbase.  Unbeknownst to me, he had passed on a story I'd written to Erica - and on his next weekend visit, he brought the story back with him, covered in pencilled notes, questions, and suggestions.  Admittedly, it was a rather shoddy science fiction tale, an attempt at an epic space opera inspired by countless episodes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager.  But this woman had taken it seriously and read it not as a teacher might read a child's work, but as a lover of books might read a new story.  She was curious about the world I'd created, and her enthusiasm seemed genuine.

On my next visit to Davenham, the village where my dad lived, I met Erica.  She invited me round to her house, a beautiful yellow-painted cottage, for a chat one evening about my writing and about books in general.  She was warm and generous with her praise on my story, and gave good advice which I can remember even now, twelve years later.  Her genre was very different from what I usually liked to read - she wrote modern novels about love and relationships, rich in humour.  This was just before the phenomenon that is "chick lit" had poisoned the well.

I remember her telling me about her first book getting published.  She'd wandered into WHSMith, seen it there on the shelf, and she'd had to leave the shop, overcome with excitement.  I remember wanting the same thing to happen to me.  I'd always wanted to be a writer, but I think it was then that I decided I wanted to be an author

It wasn't until after meeting Erica that I began to notice her books in shops.  As the years went by, more and more titles would appear under her name, and it always made me happy to think that her dream had come true.  I often still wonder, when a new novel makes its way onto the shelves, if she still gets that overwhelming rush of excitement.  I hope so. 

I only ever met Erica James that one time, and I've not been back to the village in the years since my dad passed away, but that friendly, chatty evening has stayed in my memory.  I'd had encouragement before, from my parents and teachers, but having somebody who'd penned a number of bestsellers tell me I wasn't bad was something of a turning point.  So I encourage lovers of Maeve Binchy and Marian Keyes to give Erica James a try - just so I can say that I'm doing my bit to support her, like she did me. 

Visit Erica's Amazon page here or visit her website at http://ericajames.co.uk

1 comment:

  1. That's awesome to have a bestselling novelist read something you wrote. I'm jealous.