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Bishop's Stortford College Festival of Literature: One Little Mistake and The Night You Left author Emma Curtis ditched romance for mystery thrillers

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Emma Curtis started out with romantic intentions as an author, but a fascination with the darker side of domestic life steered her towards crime and she is now an acclaimed and bestselling writer of thrilling mysteries.

Her 2017 debut novel One Little Mistake launched her career at a time when Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train were all everybody was reading and talking about. Her decision to switch proved right.

It was followed in 2018 by When I Find You, and her third and current novel, The Night You Left, has been described as "gripping, tense and twisty". Her fourth book, Keep Her Quiet, is due to be published in September 2020.

Author Emma Curtis (26328790)
Author Emma Curtis (26328790)

On Wednesday February 12 she will be appearing at Bishop's Stortford College's Festival of Literature where, along with fellow crime writer Tammy Cohen, she will be interviewed by Sawbridgeworth novelist and previous festival speaker Chris Whitaker about their novels and the process of writing, and answer questions from the audience.

Originally from Brighton, Emma, who is married with two grown-up children and lives in London, grew up with books all around her, reading everything from crime to the classics.

"My mother always encouraged us to read and she writes, and although I wasn't going to write, I had a couple of children quickly after university and didn't have time to start a career, but needed to do something fulfilling," she said.

Emma Curtis' debut The Night You Left (27754672)
Emma Curtis' debut The Night You Left (27754672)

"I started writing romances and didn't get very far. I spent eight years writing and getting rejected and then stopped for a while. I started again when my son went off to university and I realised I had missed it."

A suggestion that she should tackle a different subject matter made all the difference.

She said: "It was decided I should reboot. I quite like having parameters, people saying 'Do what you want with it, but this is what we're looking for'.

"You have to be very resilient about rejection, but the key is not to be too precious about the work rejected, just brush yourself off and move on to a fresh idea."

Author Emma Curtis (26328787)
Author Emma Curtis (26328787)

So she focused on the "darker side of domestic drama" and discovered she enjoyed it.

"I was interested in what can go wrong when a non-criminal accidentally falls into a situation. I was interested in the way people reacted to being in these situations."

Now, Emma loves the literary life, enjoying nothing more than meeting and talking to people after an event and organising get-togethers with fellow writers.

"I love the life as much as writing, what comes with it and the people you meet. I really enjoy literary festivals and it's nice to do this one in February when things are a bit quieter – I can just go and have a nice time!"

* Emma Curtis and Tammy Cohen will be in conversation with fellow crime author Chris Whitaker at Bishop's Stortford College's Festival of Literature on Wednesday February 12, from 7.30pm to 8.30pm. Tickets priced £8 for adults and £5.50 for 16- to 18-year-olds are available online.

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