Stall story: author in the market for writing inspiration

Writer & trader: ‘It’s amazing who you meet here selling on a Saturday’

Friday, 25th June 2021 — By Helen Chapman

Chris Curtis

Chris Curtis

A STALLHOLDER has told how life in Chapel Market gave him the time and inspiration to write three books in eight years.

Chris Curtis began street trading in 2013 and has lived in Finsbury Park for 36 years.

He has just had his second book, When You Fall in Love With a Dying Woman, published by a company known for “publishing books by unknown authors” after self-publishing his first book – The 25th of October – in 2018.

He has also written a third and is in the process of contacting publishers.

His second book, which he began selling from his stall last Friday, is about a King’s Cross-based architect named Joe who receives a letter by mistake from a woman.

Mr Curtis said: “I live like a monk. I get up at 6am, have a coffee and do some stretching.

“It took me two years to write it. I write from 8pm to 10pm in the evenings and I write 1,000 words a day. I have to have a strict structure when writing. I left my full-time job in 2012 because I wanted to write. I couldn’t do it while working full time.”

He used to work in events and instead took a course in market trading before opening his stall selling framed football memorabilia and old ­photos of Islington.

“I’ve always been interested in local history, frames and maps. I used to spend a lot of time in the local history centre in St John Street,” said Mr Curtis.

“It’s amazing the things that have happened to me since I started on this stall. I have met some fantastic people. I could write a whole book about people who I’ve met here and what’s happened here.

“It’s amazing who you meet here while selling on a Saturday.”

He has befriended the likes of Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream, author Nick Hornby and the president of Estee Lauder, Philippe Warnery, while sitting at his stall.

Mr Curtis works at the stall two or three times a week and teaches Tai Chi in Muswell Hill once a week.

He said: “This market stall has given me an opportunity to work with more flexibility. It’s all from this market stall that has enabled me to do those things.

“If I am in the writing zone, no one is going to say to me ‘where are you?’. I will sit at home with my tea and write.”

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