Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m really excited to be posting my exclusive interview with Emma Curtis! Those of you who follow my blog will know that I loved Emma Curtis’ two books, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview her! You can find my review for ‘One Little Mistake’ here and ‘When I Find You’ here. Thanks so much to Emma for answering my questions! Keep reading…
About the Author.
Emma Curtis is the author of two novels: ‘One Little Mistake’ (2017) and ‘When I Find You’ (August 2018). Curtis’ fascination with the darker side of domestic life inspired her to write psychological thrillers. She was born in Brighton and now lives in London with her family.
1) How would you describe your psychological thriller novels using only three words (One Little Mistake and When I Find You)?
One Little Mistake: Perfect life unravels!
When I Find You: Who are you?
2) Could you tell us a bit about your latest book, When I Find You, and the inspiration behind it?
I was inspired to write When I Find You after listening to Stephen Fry describing the challenges of living with prosopagnosia (face-blindness). A couple of years later, when I was considering using it as a plot devise, I discovered a wealth of information and found it so fascinating and such a rich source of story that I couldn’t resist. It meant asking readers to put themselves in the shoes of someone who can’t recognise faces, which, believe it or not, is not an easy thing to do, but once readers have accepted the condition as real they buy into the story and love it.
3) There’s a big market out there currently for Crime/Thriller novels. What would you say sets you apart from other writers of the genre? Is there anything in particular you try to achieve in your writing?
It’s certainly a challenge to stand out; but I enjoy a challenge. I just try to write well, to tell a page-turning story and to continue to love what I’m doing. If there’s anything I’m trying to achieve, it’s to keep learning and keep improving. I always bear in mind that writing books is about the reader not the author. The bore you’re stuck with at a party is only thinking about himself, the charming raconteur upon whose every word you are hanging, is thinking about you.
4) Could you tell us a bit about your writing journey and how you managed to get published? Did you receive rejections and how did you overcome these?
I’ve had loads of rejections! Absolutely loads. There are several unpublished and unpublishable novels knocking around. I was banging my head against a brick wall until I discovered short story competitions. I wrote and entered as many as I could – I had a spreadsheet! My hit rate of first, second, shortlisted and longlisted placements was about twenty-five percent, and this gave me a calling card, something to mention on my cover letter. The first time I won I was so euphoric I emailed my entire work place!
As a school secretary I had no writing credentials whatsoever. Nowadays, aspiring authors are up against graduates of MA courses, journalists and people connected in some way to publishing – you only have to look at authors’ bios to see how many arrive via these routes.
With my previous novels I would send out to, at the most, six agents and after getting rejections I’d be too demoralised to send out more. With my debut I avoided that scenario by submitting to around thirty within a space of three weeks so that all my submissions would be out before the rejections started tumbling into my inbox. It paid off.
5) How would you describe your writing process, from start to finish? How long does it usually take you to write a novel?
When I’m writing my first draft, I set myself a goal of 2000 words a day, every day. It means that I can keep the plot in my head and write a pacey story, but it also means a hell of a lot of editing. I’ve tried it the other way round, working on every chapter until it’s perfect before moving on, but I’ve found that this makes the book less cohesive, and I lose the rhythm. I’m also a great one for self-imposed deadlines and treat them with the same urgency as I do a deadline from my editor or agent.
6) Are there times when you struggle with finding inspiration or generating ideas for your writing? What do you do when this happens?
Finding ideas isn’t difficult, they’re all over the place. It’s finding the idea that can sustain an entire novel that’s the tricky part. It’s easy to be seduced by an amazing premise, but you can reach 30000 words and find that it all fizzles away. Preparation is key. If I’m stuck for a plot development, I go for a long walk. Nine times out of ten, something will ping in my brain!
7) What have you been working on recently?
I am loving this next book – it’s always the way with the one you’re working on – but it’s definitely one of my favourites. When Nick, the man she has been living with for six years, goes missing for no apparent reason, Grace begins to delve into his past and to question the extent of his involvement in the tragic death of the little sister of a childhood friend.
8) Which books have you read recently that you’d recommend to others?
I loved Darling by Rachel Edwards, My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent and The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris. All three have wonderful characters as well as gripping plots.
9) Tell me a bit more about yourself! What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’d love to tell you that I have a fascinating hobby, but I don’t; writing and editing take up too much time, energy and headspace, but I have to admit, I love television drama. After writing, it’s my greatest pleasure, the way I unwind, and the way I keep up with trends in the world of stories. I walk a lot too, I cook reluctantly.
10) And finally, what writing tips would you give to other budding authors?
I love giving writing tips! Here are three for you:
- Don’t talk about it, just write it. Discussing your idea will drain the freshness and excitement of it from your mind. Keep it popping by keeping it under wraps.
- If you’re using your own experiences in your story be careful not to make it about you (unless it’s a memoir!). Readers don’t want to be anxious about the author’s state of mind and if they get the least suspicion that a protagonist is the author having a rant or getting a grudge off their chest, it’ll turn them off. Use those experiences but distance yourself from them – if that makes sense. My husband always tells me when one of my pet peeves has slipped in!
- Think twice before giving your work-in-progress to friends to read. It’s a big ask. They can’t be anything but positive without hurting you, even if you get down on your knees and beg them to be honest. On the other hand, an objective point of view is invaluable. Often the person closest to you will be the only one brave enough to tell you the negatives. I use my husband and daughter. A course on self-editing is a good investment.
Happy reading 🙂