At Home With Erica

Creating order out of chaos in Erica's new kitchenAt Home in Suffolk

Upping sticks and embarking on a new life …

After living in my last house in Cheshire for twelve years, and for most of my adult life living in the north of England, I decided a change was needed, and not just a simple matter of moving house with downsizing in mind, now that my sons had long since flown the nest, but moving area completely. My first dilemma was to choose where I wanted to live. Given the nature of my work, in that I can write anywhere, the world was more or less my oyster. My only stipulation, when looking at the map of the UK, was that I wanted easy access to London and an airport, so I could get to Lake Como without too much difficulty. I also wanted to live somewhere completely new to me, which some people might find a daunting prospect, but that, I soon realised, was part of the fun of what I wanted to do, I wanted an adventure.

Well then my editor arranged for me to visit Clays, the printers in Bungay, Suffolk, to watch my latest book coming hot off the press. It was during this trip that a tiny seed of an idea took root – much like the initial spark when an idea for a novel takes hold. On my return to Cheshire I set about some extensive online research and following another visit to Bungay, a year later, and an exploratory drive around the county, I was convinced Suffolk was for me. I even started writing a novel – The Dandelion Years – that was partly set in Suffolk.

The housing market being what it is, it took longer than I’d anticipated to leave Cheshire, but finally the day of the move arrived and all my worldly possessions were packed into the enormous removal van, including forty packing boxes of books and over twenty terracotta pots from my garden!

Me on the day of moving, relaxing with tea and cake!

Erica James on moving day

Creating order out of chaos in my new kitchen …

Creating order out of chaos in Erica's new kitchen

I’m one of those strange people who loves moving house. I love the whole business of viewing properties, curiously wondering about the lives lived in each one, but most of all I love the sense of adventure and renewal a new home offers, that sense of starting afresh. It’s a bit like the blank page I’m faced with when I start work on a new novel, when anything seems possible.

A year on – I’m writing this on a chilly November afternoon in 2015 – and I’ve made my lovely new house my own. I’ve also had the small walled garden redesigned – for such a small garden it was an absurdly massive project! But best of all, I’ve made some wonderful new friends in a village that couldn’t be more welcoming. And, of course, I have at my disposal, a rich new seam of stories just waiting to be mined!

My new study in the process of being built …

Erica James'  new study being built

Work in progress on redesigning my new garden …

Work in progress on Erica James' new garden

Designing Erica James' new garden

Ta-daar! The finished garden …

Erica James finnished garden

I’m blessed with some of Suffolk’s finest countryside right on my doorstep. Don’t believe all those people who say Suffolk is flat, it’s really not true!

Suffolk countryside

At Home in Italy, Lake Como

Lake Como has become a real second home to me and all because I decided to write about it in my novel, Gardens of Delight. People are always amazed that I get any work done when I’m at the lake, there are, after all, so many wonderful distractions on offer – the beautiful and inspirational scenery, the delicious food, the fun friends and not forgetting the excellent shopping opportunities and the eternal hope of bumping into George Clooney! Don’t ask me how, but somehow I manage to get even more writing done when I’m there.

At Home in Cheshire (2002-2014)

In 2002 my sons and I moved into a barn conversion in south Cheshire. It’s special to me for many reasons, but mostly because I used it as the setting for one of my earlier novels, A Sense of Belonging. I was attracted to write about it because the location is so beautiful – a mile from the main road with views across to the Peak District. At the time of writing A Sense of Belonging I had no idea that one day I would actually end up living there.