Back in May of 2021, I was interviewed by the lovely people at the Nerd Daily website...
Hi, Ericka! Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?
Hello! I am 41 and live in a small village next to Brighton with my husband, three daughters, and three dogs. There is a duck pond in the middle of my village, a church and an old English pub. It’s tiny and quaint and used to be full of smugglers.
I love books, earl grey tea and cake. I am a Virgo so a bit overboard with cleaning my house. I am very friendly, a bit like my Labrador. I love meeting new people. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and spend a fair bit of time in hospital. I am quite clumsy and will often forget names.
Quick lightning round! Tell us the first book you ever remember reading, the one that made you want to become an author, and one that you can’t stop thinking about!
Nancy Drew – Secrets Can Kill To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara
When did you first discover your love for writing?
When I was in primary school. I loved writing stories and poems.
If you could only describe Dog Days in five words, what would they be?
Funny. Sad. Surprising. Hopeful. Honest.
What can readers expect?
Laugh out loud moments, tearjerker moments. Honest, flawed, relatable characters. A twist or two.
Where did the inspiration for Dog Days come from?
I have lost more than one close friend to sudden, tragic circumstances. My experience of death and grief has been sudden and cuts like a knife. George is my experience of loss, made into a man. An angry, scared, lost old man.
I was hugely influenced by ‘A little Life’ and the love between the main characters. I didn’t want to write a romance, but I wanted the book to be suffused with different kinds of love. Platonic, sexual, maternal. Animal.
I wanted to write strong female characters. If women do anything ‘unsavory’ society looks for a reason. They have to be ‘mad’ or ‘bad’. Men don’t have this applied to them. When they hurt or kill or break the law, it’s accepted and not explained. It is human to fail, lie, cheat, steal, break, hurt.
I wanted to explore how women are perceived by other women and the way we need to force them into a shape we can understand, that goes along with the stories we tell ourselves. Everything is always about how it makes us feel, so we alter reality or bend truths to make them fit in how we need the world to be.
My dog can’t walk past a lamp post without weeing up it. He barks at post boxes. He doesn’t hide his fear or happiness. When he sees the man in the post office, who once gave him half a stale digestive biscuit, his tail wags so much he can’t run straight. He has to throw his head back and bray with joy. Dogs have no ‘game’. They are loyal and easy and simple. I wanted to set them against people battling with depression, anxiety, OCD and abuse. It highlights the best and worst of everything.
Can you tell us about any challenges you faced while writing and how you were able to overcome them?
Walking the line between too sad and then too funny wrong. Making the characters unlikable. At times believing in myself enough to finish it.
If it’s not too spoilery, were there any favourite moments or characters you really enjoyed writing or exploring?
I loved writing Betty and George. George is based on a dear friend called Maurice who I lost six years ago in an air disaster. An old grumpy man, with a heart as soft as the inside of a boiled egg, he was the best friend I could wish for. He made me laugh, he was proud and stubborn and deserved to be made into a character.
Betty was also fun. We all need someone like her in our lives. I also loved writing Atticus and Dan falling in love.
What was the road to becoming a published author like for you?
Long and full of potholes. Lots of no’s and not quite’s. Dog Days is my third attempt at a book. I wanted to give up, but I believe anything is possible if all it takes is hard work. I had to prove it, for my daughters. If I can do this, then they can do anything.
What’s the best and the worst writing advice you have received?
Best – read loads of books. Leave your manuscript for a month between edits (Okay, I never wait that long but…)
Worst – Write a book that will sell well. Never! Write the book that is in your heart. The characters that walk round your brain!
What’s next for you?
Book two, and I hope book three, four and beyond!
Lastly, do you have any book recommendations for our readers?
Buckle in gang!
The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi Early Morning Riser – Katherine Heiny Old Baggage – Lissa Evans A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara Red, White and Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston Small Pleasures – Clare Chambers Accidental Tourist – Anne Tyler Beartown - Fredrik Backman American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins Ask Again Yes – Mary Beth Keane A Good Neighbourhood - Therese Anne Fowler The Most Fun We Ever Had - Claire Lombardo