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Writing & Me: The Drowned Village by Norma Curtis

Writing.ie | Magazine | Tell Your Own Story | Writing & Me
Norma Curtis

Norma Curtis

I’ve been a writer all my life. I can say that confidently, because a writer is someone who writes, and I was a writer with a wild ambition to be published. I like doing things the easy way, so twenty-something years ago I joined the Romantic Novelists Association as a new writer where I hoped to learn from the experts.

Gasp! At their meetings, mingling over coffee just like ordinary people, were genuine published novelists whose books I’d read with my own eyes and heart. I didn’t talk to them, obviously, because they were up there on a different level, but I did do a lot of listening. And I made friends with other new writers who were just starting out, and we compared notes and dreams.

It was there that I learned the importance of writing for a market. But in those get-togethers, other opportunities cropped up, too. At one of the meetings I sold a story to an indie filmmaker who hired an experienced RNA writer to turn it into a screenplay. I also met Judith Murdoch, a literary agent who knew the girlfriend of the filmmaker, and we bonded. Judith said if I wrote a contemporary story about thirty somethings, she’d take a look at it. So I did.

I had enrolled on the RNA New Writers’ scheme, which was presided over by Hilary Johnson, and my thirty-something book won the New Writers’ Award, was published, and got me into the WH Smith Fresh Talent awards where I met fellow nervous newbie writers Marian Keyes, Erica James, and Katie Ford.

In time I was invited onto the RNA committee and subsequently became chairman. As chairman I was invited to Buckingham Palace during World Book Week, drinking the Queen’s gin and tonics with two hundred other writers. When my term of being chairman came to an end I took a long time out, did an MA in writing, published two romcoms, and on the advice of my agent, the one who knew the girlfriend of the filmmaker, wrote my first historical novel which has been taken by Bookouture. Happy days! I am in my element now, writing historical fiction. Who’d have thought!

So far in my story, I’ve left out the rejections, and the decade my mother was ill and the years I ran out of words, but it happens, sometimes. Life gets in the way, and we have to make difficult choices about our priorities. That’s part of it, too. It doesn’t take much to lose heart and sometimes it takes effort to get back on track and refocus.

But I did eventually, because throughout these years of being a writer, encouragement has kept me going. “You’ll make it, you’ve got the spark,” an elderly writer told me in the early days and I held onto that like a prayer.

Where I’m at now, it’s not all down to me, I know that. The writing is only part of the process. Writers need readers. A book is an empty vessel without a reader and readers can never really know the overwhelming gratitude we feel when you ‘get’ us; booklovers, reviewers, agents and publishers are the other half – no, let’s be real – three-quarters of the equation. I’ve had a generous amount of support along the way, and in turn I mentor other writers to ignite that spark that I was given, to power them on.

Writing is hard work and time consuming, and many new writers drop off along the way because in the beginning, being published seems an elusive goal. There are days when the story flows but sometimes we need to be cheered along on our journey to keep us going, keep us putting one trudging word in front of the other before it gets dark. Never give up! One thing I can promise, hand on heart, is those who keep going will achieve their dream.

Those new writers who I met over coffee at my first RNA meeting, Trisha Ashley, Minna Howard, Julia Wild and Margaret James amongst them, are my lifelong friends. And every one of us got published.

(c) Norma Curtis

About The Drowned Village:

As he reaches the top of the familiar hill, a startling brightness draws him in like a vision. A glittering lake fills the entire valley. The pretty stone village, and all trace of the girl he loved, are gone…

Wartime Britain. Pushing aside drooping hollyhocks, Elin Jenkins tosses back her dark hair and runs up the familiar path to her family’s farm in the village. Laughing, Al catches her around the waist. ‘Marry me,’ he whispers. ‘I’ll use my Navy liberty leave. I don’t want this to end.’ Tears prick her eyes as she smiles up at him.

Three days later, Al is gone. And in the months that follow, Elin’s frantic telegrams to him go unanswered. Then she receives an invitation to his society wedding in Philadelphia. Scribbled on the back are three words: No hard feelings.

Present day. Al Locke, retired Navy Captain, smooths his silver hair and finishes up with a spritz of aftershave. With a spring in his step he hasn’t had for decades, he sets off up the well-worn track through the valley. He has no doubt he will meet her in the village today. He will at last hear the horrible truth of what happened to Elin after he left, and he’ll confess why he couldn’t face returning to her… until now.

But what he finds in that silent valley is a mystery that is greater even than his and Elin’s own. The village, once lively, is a ghost town, eerily empty. The tragedy of Elin and Al’s broken engagement sits at the heart of what happened – her lost love, and the home she tried so desperately to save.

A beautiful and heartbreaking read about secrets, heartache and forgiveness, based on a true story. Fans of Fiona Valpy and Lorna Cook will love this book.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Norma Curtis lives in North London with her husband and she has a son. She loves writing, especially about the warmth, humour and optimism of the human spirit. These are the qualities she looks for in her characters, and whenever she starts to wonder what life is all about, love is always the answer.

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