Author C M Turner doesn’t mince words a bit. With a childlike charm and ebullient disposition, Turner’s repartees to the questions she gets asked are no less than a joyride, for her whimsical responses, just like her impressive works, are not only interspersed with idiomatic expressions and vivid verbs but also with wit and humour. She doesn’t use the word ‘laugh’, for instance, but says ‘chuckle over’. Likewise, instead of ‘shout’, she employs the word ‘bellow’ to convey the meaning she intends to convey. The list, notwithstanding, is endless. To add to that, her works are filled with such graphic accounts that reading a book of hers is like seeing a movie being played in a home theatre. So when the illustrious author agreed to give an interview to The Indian Trumpeter, my joy knew no bounds.
‘Becoming an author was a well-thought-out decision,’ says Turner, who is currently living with her daughter and son-in-law in Las Vegas, the US. She adds that she pets a Golden Retriever. ‘We call him George Clooney, and he is my writing companion,’ she says with a smile. On being asked how her latest book Where the Ironweed Blooms happened, Turner, who loves to explore different genres including mystery, horror, and surrealism, tells me that it all began with her desire to create a Halloween story for her daughter. ‘It was originally just twenty-five pages,’ says she, adding, ‘but every time I read it, a new idea came to my mind. After years of these new ideas, I ended up with the novel it is today.’
But if you thought she wrote only novels, boy, you were mistaken, for Turner tells me that she loves to paint as well! ‘But painting has never presented the same calling to me as writing. I’ve always been content to have it as a hobby, something to fall back on during lulls in my writing, or when the mood strikes,’ she explains, clarifying that she hasn’t been painting much lately. ‘It requires a certain amount of space to leave your equipment set up, and my room only accommodates the necessary amount of bedroom furniture, plus a desk, desk chair and computer,’ she elaborates.
So as the discussion warms up, I decide on asking her about her inspiration and she calls to mind the first book she had read when she was all of ten years of age! ‘It was Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, and I knew right then I wanted to be a writer,’ she tells me. Going further, she says, ‘I wanted to try to write a book just half that good. The memory of that book has been so long-lasting that even today the breed of dog I have looks an awful lot like the one in that book did!’
Talking about her published works, Turner says her first book titled Husband: A Short Story Series is a compilation of stories she wrote in her early twenties. ‘They are nothing like my two novels though,’ she states. ‘They occasionally depict true occurrences and most have been embellished for the enjoyment of the reader.’ And as far as her latest novel Not Flowers for Charlie is concerned, she says she had started writing it way before she began working on Where the Ironweed Blooms. ‘It’s just that the second one got published first,’ she smiles.
Reared in South California, the author, who initially experimented with poetry, also lets The Indian Trumpeter know that she has never outlined or planned her story. ‘A story just unveils itself as I’m writing it. Sometimes new ideas might come as I’m writing, but I’ll incorporate them right as I go. I do usually have some idea of a plot in mind, but the characters always develop as I tell the story,’ explains Turner, whose list of favourite authors includes Harper Lee, John Irving, J D Salinger, Henry Miller, Emily Bronte, John Knowles, Toni Morrison, and Rebecca Welles amongst others. ‘This is just a partial list, of course!’ she laughs.
And even though none of her works has ever got a rating below four stars on Amazon or Goodreads (with a majority of readers giving these books a five-star rating), she tells me that there is always scope for improvement when it comes to writing. She plans to launch a book by the end of this year and may launch two more in 2021. ‘What I’ve learned from this business is that you need to exercise a great amount of patience. Nothing is fast,’ she stresses.
And does she have any suggestions for budding writers? ‘I suppose what I would tell a budding author who’s becoming discouraged is don’t give up on yourself. If you believe in your work, then it’s your job to make others believe in it too. Don’t give up! Just try harder. There are so many more ways to get your work out in the world today than ever before. Don’t wait around to be that very small percentage who gets lucky enough to land an agent or miraculously has their work seen just at the right time by the right person in a big publishing house.’
She also emphasises that it’s only commonsensical for an indie author to make the most use of the different ways to self-publish in this day and age of cut-throat competition. ‘Take a chance on yourself! If you aren’t willing to gamble on you, then why should an agent or publisher?’ she says signing off with a beautiful smile.
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