When Eileen Judell called to check in with her son and his family in England this past year, she was frequently told that granddaughter Erica, 10, was too busy writing a novel to get on the phone.
“I kind of laughed it off and didn’t think about it much,” Judell recalled. “But when I went to see them in May, she showed me the manuscript and I was so impressed—it was really good.”
The story is about a lonely privileged girl named Angelica, who believes she has lost her family in the Great Fire of London, which lasted several days in September 1666.
The fire gutted the medieval buildings inside the old Roman city wall. It threatened, but did not reach, the aristocratic district of Westminster, Charles II’s Palace of Whitehall and most of the suburban slums. It consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the city authorities. It is estimated to have destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the city’s 80,000 inhabitants.
The death toll is unknown but traditionally thought to have been small, as only six verified deaths were recorded. But that reasoning has recently been challenged on the grounds that the deaths of poor and middle-class people were not recorded, while the heat of the fire may have cremated many victims, leaving no identifiable remains.
In Weiler’s story, Angelica falls into a world of poverty and criminals where she finally makes friends and faces enemies.
Longtime Ketchum resident Judell said when she saw the manuscript, she took it to a contact at Bloomsbury in London, publishers of the Harry Potter books, and was advised that without an agent, the book wouldn’t get attention.
So her parents helped see it self-published, and now the author, en route to Ketchum from London earlier this week, is set to appear at Chapter One Bookstore on Friday, Aug. 24, from 4-6 p.m.
Interviewed by her father for a statement pre-arrival, Weiler said the idea for the story “popped into my head and developed as I wrote.”
She said she has always enjoyed writing. Her first long story was about a snow leopard when she was 8, and though she did have illustrations for “Two Worlds,” she didn’t include them.
But her dream, which she formulated at age 5 after a world book day at school, is “to be an ‘authostrator,’ since I wanted to write books and illustrate them myself.”
Book proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association and Potato Soup Foundation
Dwayne Clark wrote his novel, “My Mother, My Son” to chronicle the life of his feisty mother who, in a cruel twist of fate, became a resident at one of his memory-care communities after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
The CEO and founder of Aegis Living will be at the Knob Hill Inn in Ketchum, Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 6-7 p.m. Light refreshments are being offered.
For more on his book, visit www.mymothermyson.com.
A pair of book signings:
Who: 10-year-old novelist Erica Weiler with her book “Two Worlds.”
What: A historical novel.
When: Friday, Aug. 24, 4-6 p.m.
Where: Chapter One Bookstore, 340 E. Second St., across from Rico’s, Ketchum.
Who: Dwayne Clark, CEO and founder of Aegis Living, with “My Mother, My Son.”
What: The story of his feisty mother who become a resident of his memory-care facilities.
When: Wed., Aug. 29, 6-7 p.m.
Where: Knob Hill Inn, 960 N. Main St., Ketchum.