Emma Christie’s first novel, The Silent Daughter, has been longlisted for a prestigious crime writing award. Gayle Ritchie catches up with the reporter-turned-author.
Emma Christie is unbelievably chuffed. And no wonder.
Her very first novel has been longlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association New Blood Dagger Award 2021.
“It’s on my list of writing dreams!” says Emma, 40.
“It’s such a well-respected prize and previous winners include Gillian Flynn, who wrote Gone Girl.
“If I make the shortlist – announced on May 20 – I’ll be absolutely delighted but if not I still feel amazed. It’s a huge confidence boost to be chosen from such a massive number of quality debut novels.”
Originally from Ayrshire, Emma studied literature and medieval history at Aberdeen University before becoming a reporter at the Press and Journal.
She quit that job in 2010 with the intention of taking a year out to go travelling and write a book. It took just a wee bit longer – but it was worth it!
These days, Emma, who fell in love with Barcelona, splits her time between Scotland and Spain.
Her novel, The Silent Daughter, is hugely gripping and packed with suspense.
It follows the desperate search of Edinburgh news reporter Chris Morrison as he tries to track down his missing daughter Ruth.
“I had the character of Ruth in my head for years before I started writing – I didn’t really have a good story to put her in,” says Emma.
“But after a lot of trial and error I found the best way to tell her story and allow the reader to get to know her too! It was a huge relief to get her out of my head at last.”
It took Emma two years to complete the book, writing in a converted factory near Barcelona’s centre, and at her flat in the Spanish city.
“It has a huge sunny terrace full of plants so I love to pop out there on my breaks!” she says.
“I had the character of Ruth in my head for years before I started writing – I didn’t really have a good story to put her in.”
When she’s home in Scotland, she works from her flat in Portobello and on trains, as she travels around the country visiting friends and family.
Emma treats writing like a “normal job” but works in 48 minute sessions, a number chosen after much experimentation.
“An hour felt too long and 45 minutes not enough. So I try to write for five or six sessions of 48 minutes every week day. Closer to deadline I work crazy long hours and weekends but still stick to the short sessions as it’s better for my back and my creativity!”
Being a news reporter taught Emma to crack on and write even when she doesn’t feel like it, believing it’s better to stick at it, get the words down and edit later if needed.
“For every 80,000 novel I’d guess I actually write 200,000 words and delete the extras! But generally I aim to write 1500 to 2000 words a day.”
When she’s not writing, Emma works as a tour guide and lecturer in history, culture and politics, leading educational journeys across Spain, France, Portugal and Greece.
“All my tour work was cancelled during the pandemic but I’m hoping to get back on the road in 2022.
“But in many ways it’s worked out well as it’s allowed me to work full-time on book two.”
Emma’s second novel, Find Her First, will be released in December.
It’s also based in Edinburgh and tells the story of a paramedic, Andy Campbell and his wife, Stef.
“I won’t say too much at the moment but it’s another fast-paced psychological suspense novel and I’m really excited about releasing it into the world!”
- The Silent Daughter by Emma Christie is published by Welbeck, priced £8.99.