North-east journalist-turned-novelist Emma Christie has bagged a new two-book deal following the success of her first two novels. Gayle Ritchie finds out more.
It’s an exciting time for Emma Christie. The 41-year-old, who spent five years as a reporter at the Press and Journal, has clinched a two-book deal following the success of her first two novels.
Emma, who is now based in Barcelona, has also just been invited to speak at one of Scotland’s biggest book festivals in May.
Since her second psychological thriller novel Find her First was published in January, it’s been selling brilliantly.
It follows the success of her debut The Silent Daughter which was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2021, shortlisted for the Scottish Crime Debut of the Year 2021 and longlisted for the Crime Writers Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award 2021.
Both books are standalone novels based in one of Emma’s favourite places: Portobello, Edinburgh’s captivating seaside community. Her third and fourth novels will continue the tradition.
Emma says: “I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to have a new two-book deal with Welbeck. They’ve been incredibly supportive of my books and my career since my debut was released in 2020 and it’s a dream come true to know I’ll have four novels on the shelves by 2024!”
As well as writing, Emma founded a group of Scottish crime writers called the Caledonia Crime Collective – and they’ll be appearing at Glasgow’s Aye Write book festival on May 12.
A race against time
Anyone yet to read Find Her First is in for a treat. The pulse-pounding twisty thriller is a race against time after paramedic Stef Campbell goes missing from her Edinburgh home. Three people are looking for her – her husband, her cleaning lady and the local police detective. The book asks, who will find her first? And will they save her life, or take it?
Emma started writing it in November 2020, days after she came out of a two-week Covid isolation period.
The closing scenes came to her years ago and she’s been trying to write a story based on that image ever since.
“I was writing the whole time I was isolated but growing increasingly frustrated with the story I was working on,” Emma says.
“It was only once I was released from isolation and could go for a run to clear my head that the realisation hit me – I was writing the wrong book. I then took the very difficult decision to dump 90,000 words and start a new story, and Find Her First is it!”
She spent a lot of time researching the life and work of paramedics. A paramedic friend was “incredibly generous” with her time, answering hundreds of questions about aspects of the job.
“It was fascinating and completely necessary! I hope the result is an authentic depiction of a paramedic on the road.”
So is now a good time to be writing crime and thriller novels? Emma thinks so: “The genre has been diversifying over the years and is open to so many different kinds of books. There are still many fantastic detective and whodunnit stories but crime writing also includes psychological fiction, historical novels and ‘amateur sleuth’ stories.
“It’s a genre that’s more diverse than most people imagine and also, the writing is of a really high standard. There’s a tendency at times to regard page-turners and commercial reads as books of lesser quality but in my view that’s nonsense. It’s not in any way easy to write a book that appeals to the masses! Writing succinctly is an art.”
There’s no rest for the wicked and Emma is already working on her third novel, also based in Portobello, but with the main character as a bus driver.
“I actually did my bus driving course years ago then spectacularly failed the test!” reveals Emma. “So this will be a chance for me to live that life regardless! I’m hoping to arrange a research visit to the bus headquarters soon. And if all goes well that’ll be released early in 2023. I’ll also return to my tour guiding career this year for the first time since Covid. I’ve got work lined up in Spain and Portugal so it’ll be exciting to get back on the road.”
- Find Her First by Emma Christie, £8.99, is available from Waterstones and Amazon. emmachristiewriter.com/
- Emma will be appearing at Glasgow’s Aye Write Festival on May 12. For tickets, visit glasgowlife.org.uk