An avid reader, Ericka devoured books from the library.
“If I didn’t like the ending of a book, I would rewrite it,” she says. “I was good at rhyming poetry, and I wrote songs for school plays.” She also wrote obituaries for people who died in her village. “The average age there was about 80. I also wrote poems for the graves of our rabbits and hamsters.”
Ericka suffered from anxiety as a teenager and didn’t manage well in exams.
“I left school after GCSE and fell into marketing. But 11 years ago, when I was pregnant with my second child, my friend had an aneurysm at work, in front of me, and died leaving three young children. I thought, I’ve got to grasp life now.”
She trained as a journalist and began to write blogs and an award-winning weekly column for Brighton’s newspaper, the Evening Argus. She wrote an unpublished novel, and then got accepted onto a Faber Academy course by submitting the first chapter of Dog Days.
“I wrote the book while I was there.”
After a professional edit, Ericka gained her choice of agent, and garnered a good pre-emptive two book deal. Dog Days also sold to America and Italy.
Who is Ericka Waller?
Date of birth: 1981 in Hertfordshire.
Education: Ashlyns School in Hertfordshire.
Home: Brighton. “I just love it here.”
Family: Husband James, Grace, 13, Daisy 11, and Bliss, 10.
The Day Job: Fulltime writer.
In Another Life: “I’ve always wanted to pick music for films.”
Favourite Writers: Lissa Evans; Katherine Heiny; Anne Tyler; Clare Chambers; Mary Beth Keane; Frederik Backman; Ronan Hession.
Second Novel: “I’ve had a stab at a few and am working on an idea.”
Top Tip: “Don’t give up, and don’t join Twitter.”
The Debut: Dog Days. Doubleday: €15.36. Kindle: €10.99.
The cantankerous George is angry because his wife has died and left him; Dan is too shy to succumb to love; and Lizzie, living in a shelter with her small son, is hiding a shocking secret. The three are linked by the dogs, who, wanted or not, force them out of doors to the Beacon.
The Verdict: A glorious read full of love and humour, yet there are dark issues at its base.
Published in the Irish Examiner, on 20th March
© Sue Leonard. 2021