Wednesday, 28 September 2016

My Publishing Journey .... with Chris Curran

By Gillian Hamer

Chris Curran has written two psychological crime novels for Harper Collins Killer Reads. She left school at sixteen to work in the local library, returning to full-time education after studying for ‘A’ levels at evening classes. She was born in London, but at university in Brighton she fell in love with the south coast. She eventually persuaded her husband and family to move to Hastings where she is a proud shareholder of the recently reopened pier. Amongst other things she has worked as a primary school teacher, an actress and an editor.

Her first book, Mindsight, a psychological thriller set in Hastings was published last year. And her second novel, Her Turn To Cry, came out as an e-book on July 8th and publishes in paperback on September 8th.
In the second in our series where we investigate author's personal publishing journey from first scribbles to published novels, Chris gives us an insight into the highs and lows of her career.


What was the first short story or novel you wrote?

When I was a teenager I was obsessed by tragic women from history, particularly those who died young. So my first attempt at a novel was about Joan of Arc. I never finished it, which is probably for the best. I must have become more cheerful after that because my next two attempts at novels were comedies. I only have fragments to show for the years I spent writing them, but again that’s probably a blessing. My first published fiction was a light-hearted short story about a cheating husband, which appeared in Bella magazine. With my crime novels, I seem to have gone back to the dark side.

Was writing just a hobby to begin with for you?

I’ve always taken my writing seriously so I never considered it a hobby and I had ambitions to be published right from the start. Of course at first that only meant having my work read out in class or put on a school noticeboard! But even then I dreamed of seeing my name on the cover of a real book one day and was determined to make that dream come true.

When did you know you were ‘good’?

I’m not a confident person, however a few short-listings in competitions and some of my stories beginning to be accepted for publication convinced me I must be doing something right. A negative review can still shake my confidence however and of course that’s the one that sticks in my mind. I shouldn’t read them, but the lure is irresistible!

In fact, painful though it is, I have the feeling that it’s good for a writer to be full of doubts. That way you are always striving to improve.

What were your first steps towards publication?

Because I was doing a demanding full-time job, as well as bringing up three children, I started by writing short stories, mainly for women’s magazines. I used the small amount of money I made to fund two Arvon courses. These were incredibly useful not only for the intense writing sessions with the successful writers and publishing professionals tutoring the courses, but for practical advice about getting your work out there. It was also great to meet other students who were in a similar position and to share experiences and ideas. Quite a number of us have now published novels.

Chris's latest release
What has been your proudest writing moment to date?

It was an enormous thrill to see my first story in a magazine. When I opened the letter telling me it had been accepted I ran around the house screaming with excitement and terrifying my husband! One thing that really makes me happy even now is that my mum, who died before my novel was published, was so excited to read that story.

But I was most proud when Mindsight (recently picked as a Sunday Express best summer read) was chosen by such a major publisher as Harper Collins. It was unexpected because I didn’t have an agent and had submitted the novel during an open submission slot imagining I would hear no more about it. When the email from my soon to be editor popped up in my inbox, saying she loved the book and wanted to take it on, I was so surprised that I kept telling myself not to get excited because it was probably all a mistake!

Any mistakes you wish, in hindsight, you had avoided?

Losing faith in my writing at various times and letting it hold me back, although being the person I am I’m not sure I could have avoided that.

What do you know now you wish you’d known at the start of your journey?

That all the ups and downs along the way would feed into my writing and help to make it better.

What top 3 tips would you offer new and up-coming authors hoping to publish? 
  • Try to find a group of trusted readers who will give an honest and perceptive opinion of your fledgling work.
  • Don’t rush to submit before you are certain the book is the best it can possibly be. Ideally when you think it’s finished you should put it away and try to forget it for a while so that you can reread it with fresh eyes.
  • Brace yourself for rejection, but persevere.
Connect with Chris and her books:

Website: https://chriscurranauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Chris-Curran-421251721385764/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Twitter: @Christi_Curran

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