You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me. C.S. Lewis
I was born in London but couldn’t resist the call of the sea and lived for over twenty years in Hastings, on the south coast of England. Recently we relocated further east and now live yards from a magnificent bay in Kent – I call it heaven!
I left school at sixteen to work in the local library – my dream job then and now – and spent an idyllic few months reading my way around the shelves. Reluctantly returning to full-time education I gained my degree from Sussex University. Since then I have worked as an actress, script writer, copy editor and teacher, all the time looking forward to the day when I would see my own books gracing those library shelves.
My facebook author page is here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Curran/421251721385764?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Or follow me on twitter: @FrostyAbbie
For more about me and my writing process you can access an interview I did with Lucy V Hay here.
And I shared ten things not many people know about me! Find them here.
This is a Q&A I did for the Killer Reads and Waterstones Crime Festival #KillerFest15
Your name: Chris Curran
Tell us about yourself: I was born in London and left school at sixteen to work in the local library – my dream job at the time. After an idyllic few months reading everything on the shelves I returned to full-time education, took my degree, and became a primary school teacher. I’ve also worked as an actress and copy editor amongst other things. I inherited a ready-made family when my two young stepchildren came to live with us. Later my own son arrived and we moved to the south coast of England. Now that all three children have left home the space they vacated is rapidly filling with books.
Tell us about your latest book: Mindsight is a psychological thriller. The story begins on the day Clare is released from prison. She crashed her car, whilst under the influence of drugs, killing her father, husband and young son. Although she can’t remember anything about the accident she has accepted her guilt. The only thing that has kept her going over the years is the hope of one day being reconciled with her surviving son. Tom. But when she meets him again, Tom demands answers – he wants to know exactly what happened on the night of the crash.
So Clare is forced to delve into the past. But as she does so she begins to fear that she may be putting not only herself, but also Tom, into danger.
When did you start writing? I wrote my first novel when I was about 12. It was a Famous Five rip off and filled one small exercise book. Even I could tell it wasn’t much good, so I gave up for 20 years. It took me around 20 more years to get a novel published.
Where do you write? Usually in the dining room next to my kitchen so that I can top up with Earl Grey as often as I want. I write standing up, like Charles Dickens (!), with my laptop on a bookshelf just above waist height. Standing allows me to pace up and down, which I like to do, and to work out action scenes by performing all the parts. Needless to say I never work in public places!
Which other authors do you admire? Too many to list, but some modern crime writers I love are: Cathi Unsworth, Tana French, Elly Griffiths, Sheila Bugler and two independently published authors, JJ Marsh and Gillian Hamer.
Book you wished you’d written? Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. People don’t always think of Du Maurier as a crime writer, but her best books have crime at their heart and they are wonderfully atmospheric. What’s brilliant about Rebecca is that it’s not obvious until a long way into the book that there even has been a crime. And you leave the story with many, many questions – the mark of a special novel.
Greatest fictional criminal: For me it has to be Count Fosco, from The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. He is such a complex creation: fascinating, but repellent, evil but also attractive.
Greatest crime or criminal from the real world: The greatest crime is the fact that people are living in abject poverty whilst others enjoy extraordinary luxury.
Greatest fictional detective: My favourite at the moment has to be Matthew Shardlake. He epitomises Raymond Chandler’s description of the perfect detective as a man who walks the mean streets but is not himself mean. In Shardlake’s case those mean streets are in the London of Henry V111: one of the most fascinating periods of history.
What scares you? The thought of anything happening to the people I love.
Are you ever disturbed by your own imagination? I’m a real scaredy cat. If I’m writing a particularly menacing scene I often find myself looking behind me and flinching when I hear an unusual noise.
3 crime books you would recommend to EVERYONE
- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. T.S. Eliot called it ‘the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels’ and who am I to argue with that?
- Endless Night is my favourite Christie. No Poirot or Marple, just a brilliant story and an unreliable narrator par excellence
- The Walking Stick by Winston Graham is a beautiful story that shows how a good person could be led into crime. Graham is best known for the Poldark series, but he’s a great writer of psychological mysteries. The book may be out of print, but it’s well worth tracking down
Do you listen to music when you write? No. I need silence to hear the characters’ voices and the sounds of the story rather than anything from the world around me.
Are you on social media? Yes. Writing is a solitary occupation so it’s great to interact with the world on Twitter and connect with friends through Facebook.
How can fans connect with you? Through my websitehttps://chriscurranauthor.com/ My facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Curran/421251721385764?ref=aymt_homepage_panel Or follow me on twitter @Christi_Curran
And another Q&A for Words With Jam magazine
60 Seconds with Chris Curran for Words with Jam
Chris Curran’s first novel, Mindsight, is a psychological thriller. It was chosen as the lead title for Harper Collins’ new digital first imprint at Killer Reads. She lives in Hastings on the south coast of England and Mindsight is set in the town.
Tell us a little about you and your writing.
The moment when, as a four year-old, I first understood that those squiggles on the page were words is still vivid in my memory. It really was an awakening and I’ve loved books ever since. My first job was in the local library and I still feel most at home in bookshops or libraries.
I began to have ambitions to write when I realised that most storybook heroes were male and the females were either too goody-goody to be true or totally pathetic. So I try to feature brave and interesting women characters – and they don’t have to be good!
You’re a new name in published crime fiction, why write crime?
As I’m an omnivorous reader the choice wasn’t obvious. However there’s something supremely satisfying for me about a good crime novel. I think it’s the combination of a strong story, along with sharp psychological insights, and the appeal to the fundamental instinct we all have for righting wrongs.
If you had to swap to a different genre, what would it be and why?
I would love to try my hand at SFF, or a fantasy novel for children or young adults. Again it’s all about story and I am in awe of the soaring imaginations of people like Ursula Le Guin and Philip Pullman who can create whole new worlds.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Reading a scene you’ve written and knowing it works.
And the worst?
Marketing. I love meeting readers, but would prefer to avoid the rest.
Where do you write?
In the corner of our dining room near a window. I stand up to write, with my laptop on a bookshelf just above waist height. Apparently Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway also wrote standing. I don’t know what their reasons were, but it allows me to pace as I think and to work out the action scenes by performing all the parts.
What would be your top 3 writing tips to up-and-coming authors?
- Write the book you would like to read.
- When you think the story is complete put it away for as long as you can bear before rereading. Flaws you’ve never noticed before will suddenly be obvious.
- Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite – and don’t submit to an agent, a publisher, or self-publish, until you are certain the book is the best it can possibly be.
Which 3 books would you take to a desert island?
- The biggest compilation of poetry available. I’ll obviously never finish or tire of it and it will nourish my soul and improve my writing.
- Donna Tartt’s, The Goldfinch. It’s one of those books that I’m sure could withstand endless rereading.
- It depends which of my favourite crime writers has a new book out when I leave for the island. So maybe something by Tana French, Cathi Unsworth or CJ Sansom.
Which crime author do you most admire?
There are so many, but as Ruth Rendell has recently died I have to pick her. In the form of her alter ego, Barbara Vine, she has been credited with inventing the dark psychological suspense novel and it was Vine’s books that made me want to write something as atmospheric and intense.
What are your future writing plans?
I have two novels at different stages of development: both standalone psychological thrillers. The first is about a woman whose sister was murdered as a teenager fifteen years before and their father convicted of the crime. The second is set partly in the 1950’s, in the dying days of variety theatre, and also in the very different atmosphere of the Swinging 60’s.
N.B. Both the books I mention above are now out and were published as Her Deadly Secret and Her Turn to Cry.