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How Tall Oaks author Chris Whitaker overcame drink and drugs following stockbroker crime to become best-selling crime writer

Year 11 student Anna Snelling reviews crime writer Chris Whitaker's talk at the Bishop's Stortford College Festival of Literature...

The festival welcomed local novelist Chris Whitaker, who spoke with honesty and humour on how he found refuge in creating his crime novels.

He addressed the trauma of being stabbed as a 19-year-old and how he broke trading limits as a stockbroker, losing a million pounds in a single day and concealing his crime.

Chris Whitaker (44354639)
Chris Whitaker (44354639)

Whitaker also recounted how he resorted to drink and drugs, but only managed to find temporary solace.

Despite his ordeals, the Sawbridgeworth-based author divulged: "I'm one of those people who doesn't take much seriously."

Whitaker said it was writing which "saved my life, twice". Writing was a way of processing his thoughts when nothing else could help.

Bishop's Stortford College student Anna Snelling (44354578)
Bishop's Stortford College student Anna Snelling (44354578)

He revisited the stabbing in his mind, recalling details from that day, and recreated the scene in his fiction. He changed the setting to a small town in the USA and the people to create fictional characters, including the fragile but fierce Duchess. The result was the creation of the comic and tragic Tall Oaks, for which Whitaker won a Crime Writers' Association Dagger Award.

Books and writing remain Whitaker's passion. He has published two further novels, writes daily and continues to work in his local library, Covid allowing.

And he is hopeful that imminent meetings to discuss TV rights will bring his characters to life on screen.

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