This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
In the latest in our 'The Book The Changed My Life' series, Janey Fraser tells us why Eric, or Little by Little inspired her to become a writer. Janey Fraser is the author of three novels, and her new book, Happy Families, came out last week.
There are so many authors who have changed my life at different stages. There’s Somerset Maugham who was responsible for making me fall in love at fifteen with a boy who pointed me in the direction of “Rain”. There’s Hemmingway whose “For Whom The Bell Tolls” got me through my A-levels by distracting me with his storytelling skills. But the one which really changed my life was called “Eric, Or Little By Little” which I read when I was about nine.
I can remember it quite clearly. There I was, lying in my parents’ bed, recovering from a bout of pneumonia . (One of the nice things about being ill was that I was placed in their bed during the day, for some reason.) I was quite a chesty child and although I had plenty of books of my own, would amuse myself when poorly by reading adult books from my parents’ one and only bookshelf. It contained all kinds of intriguing titles like “No Love For Johnnie” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”.
That day, my eye was caught by a bottle green cover and a title that aroused my curiosity. Was Eric simply small or did he get bigger, little by little? In truth, I can hardly remember what it was about now, although when I looked it up on Amazon, I discovered it is described as “Stories of school life by the theological writer (Rev F.W. Farrar), considered an eloquent preacher and a voluminous author."
What I do know is that I couldn’t put it down because it made me cry so much with sadness for the hero. But at the same time, I knew I was enjoying the crying bit and – most important – that I wanted to be able to write like that so I could make people happy and sad at the same time. Is that why I became a writer? Actually, I was already writing stories of my own by then. But it did definitely inspire me.
I’d love to know where that copy is now. One day, I’ll get round to ordering it from Amazon, provided it’s not out of print. But part of me is reluctant to do so, in case it doesn’t move me in the same way. It would be like going back to visit a much-loved home and finding it had changed beyond recognition. Ironically, I do still possess its neighbour, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” with its orange and white cover and well-thumbed pages. But it’s Eric who will always be my first true love.