Today I’m excited to have over here, multibook author, blogger and friend, Stevie Turner. I met Stevie through visiting other blogs about a year ago, and after getting to know more about her and her writing I was curious to read one of her books, which lead to reading two of her books, leading me to get hooked on her stories and subsequently, now I have approximately 5 other books of hers awaiting me on my Kindle. I’m pretty sure I was drawn to Stevie’s writing because of the subject matter in her books- many pertaining to relationships, issues and resolving, and mostly there is humor to be found in her stories. I suppose like finds like, and so through our mutual writing, Stevie and I have become friends.
Stevie Turner retired early from her post as a medical secretary in a busy NHS hospital to concentrate on writing suspense, women’s fiction, and humorous novels. She won a New Apple Book Award in 2014 and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in 2015 for her book ‘A House Without Windows’, and one of her short stories, ‘Checking Out’, was published in the Creative Writing Institute’s 2016 anthology ‘Explain!’ Her psychological thriller ‘Repent at Leisure’ won third place in the 2016 Drunken Druid Book Award contest.
Stevie lives in the East of England, and is married with two sons and four grandchildren. She has also branched out into the world of audio books, screenplays, and translations. Most of her novels are now available as audio books, and one screenplay, ‘For the Sake of a Child’, won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival and will be read by an independent film production company based in Los Angeles. Some of her books are currently being translated into German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
I love visiting your blog, and enjoy reading your newsletters. Would you like to tell my readers here what types of articles they can expect to find at your blog?
I usually write about life experiences, and sometimes ‘how to’ posts to help Indie authors (I’ll also re-blog informative articles containing writing tips). Added to this I now run a monthly short story competition, and sometimes use my blog to promote whichever of my books are on special offer.
I know you’ve gone back to work at the hospital part-time and gratefully, you’ve just completed a recent round of radiation therapy (again) and defeated that ugly ‘C’ word heroically. How in God’s name have you managed to write and publish ten books?
The ten books were written in the period from late 2013 to August 2017, most of that time I was off work and at home recovering from one treatment or another. Now I’m back at work it’s not so easy to find the time to sit down and write. Also my brain still feels a bit fried from the 30 radiotherapy treatments I had in March/April this year, so I’m not as prolific as I used to be.
I’m in awe over the awards you’ve received for some of your books. Please tell us about the New Apple Award you received for your book – A House Without Windows. And if you’d like to share about some of the other awards you’ve won, please step up here on the soapbox!
I received the New Apple Award in 2014 (Suspense/Thriller category) for my third novel, A House Without Windows. It’s always been my bestseller, and in fact a reputable media/film company based in New York contacted me out of the blue last month, asked if I was still the rights holder, and requested the manuscript. I sent it off to them, so watch this space as they say! It’s the first time somebody has contacted me rather than me sending off the manuscript, so I’m more hopeful about this one. However, I suppose I’ll still have to endure the usual few months of waiting for an answer, although I had a reply from somebody in the Development team saying that they had received it.
I know you’re currently in the process of creating audio and other language translations for some of your books. Could you share a bit about the process entailed? How did you decide where to have these processes done? Are you using ACX?
Yes I use ACX for audio books. You have the choice whether to pay the narrator for their services, or share the royalties. You upload a small part of the manuscript for auditions, and wait for the narrators to get in touch (you can narrate your own book if you want to). So far I’ve sold 230 audio books and have enjoyed virtual friendships with my narrators. It’s all good, as they say.
For the translations I use Babelcube. The royalties aren’t that wonderful as you’re sharing them with your translator and with Babelcube, but it’s still getting your books out there in many different countries.
How exciting that one of your books is being considered by an independent film production company! Do you have any aspirations to become a screenwriter?
For the Sake of a Child screenplay won a silver award in the Depth of Field International Film Festival and was passed on to a film company in Los Angeles. Due to my radiation brain I started off turning a couple of my novels into screenplays as I couldn’t think of any new topics to write about and I thought it would be interesting to read up and find out how to do it. Also it seemed there was less competition when sending off screenplays compared to sending off book manuscripts. However, as I haven’t heard back from this film company either, I can’t really inform you yet as to whether or not it’s all been worth it.
I think I heard somewhere that Stevie Turner is your penname. Why did you choose to write under a penname? And why don’t I see your photo as an avatar on social media? Do these choices have anything to do with the content in your books?
I have a photo on my website so that readers can see what I look like, but I don’t feel it’s necessary for my mugshot to be blasted all over cyberworld! Anyone can visit my website (the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned) and there I am in all my glory.
I write non-fiction under my real name, which I don’t want mixed up with my fiction books, hence the penname.
Now I’m going to ask you if you’re working on a new project? If so, please give us a hint about what the book is about.
I’ve started various novels over the past year or so, but always ran out of steam and enthusiasm after about 15,000 words. However, I’ve started another one recently which I’m more excited about. I’m writing from the male point of view, and it’s another family drama. Goodness knows when it will be finished though…
Dr Beth Nichols thinks she has been held captive by Edwin Evans for about 8 or 9 years now. Amidst her grief she often looks back and thinks about her fiancée Liam; theirs was the greatest romance of all. She lays awake at night staring at the one light bulb that is never switched off, and prays that he is still out there somewhere searching for her…
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Please share an excerpt of any one of your books to give us a sense of your writing.
This is part of Chapter 2 of A House Without Windows. Readers have likened it to Emma Donoghue’s Room, but I actually wrote and published this story before I’d even become aware of her book. I had based the story on an item of news I’d seen concerning three women being released from thirty years of captivity in a basement:
EXCERPT FROM A HOUSE WITHOUT WINDOWS, BY STEVIE TURNER
The months roll past. I send thought messages to Liam and tell him he is going to be a father. I knit a whole wardrobe for the baby, and prepare a list of things I will need. Thankfully Edwin agrees to my requests for a plastic sheet, sanitary towels, and extra towels and nappies. He has even given me a ball of string and a small pair of scissors when I tell him I will need something with which to cut and tie off the umbilical cord. The scissors are not overly sharp, but they will have to do.
I am as ready as I can be for the birth. I am too big to do any exercises now, and so just spend my days knitting and waiting. I have seen women in childbirth during the weeks of obstetrics training, and I pray to God that I can cope with the pain without analgesia.
I am having a wash at the sink when I feel the waters breaking. Edwin left me some sandwiches with my breakfast tray, and so I know he has gone to work. I quell a rising panic and sit on the toilet until the rush of water has passed. I finish washing and put my nightdress back on instead of day clothing.
Within a short time the first contractions begin. I relax upon the bed because it seems that the pains are within my capabilities to endure. I can feel my abdomen tightening with each contraction, and the baby kicking, eager to get out of its prison. I feel like telling it to stay in there; the prison it is coming into is not much improved on the one it is leaving.
The pains increase. I have no way of measuring time, and so have no idea how long I have been in labour. I am hungry, but eschew the sandwiches wrapped in cling film. From what I have seen of women in labour, whatever they have eaten tends to come back up again.
I stand up and hope that gravity will aid the baby’s expulsion from my womb. I start to pace the floor, stopping to let each contraction take its course. I can walk nine steps before I have to turn around and go the other way. I try not to think how two of us will cope in such a tiny space.
The labour drags on interminably. I sip water to stay hydrated. The pains are making me sweat, and my nightdress is soaking wet. I am tired with all the pacing, and focus on placing the plastic sheeting over the duvet. I cover the sheet with towels, and lay on my side on the bed next to the scissors and string. The pain makes me want to cry, but I need to endure silently and not panic. I must be in control of my emotions in order to bring Liam’s baby safely into the world.
The focusing on an object does not work. I smile wryly to myself and wonder how many times I told labouring women to do the same. It did not seem to work for them either. Finally I scream at the cold concrete walls, efficient as always at dulling any sound. Nobody comes to my aid.
At last I feel an urge to open my bowels, and I know this is the last phase of childbirth. I brace my back against the bedhead, grab my knees, and push with all my might. My hand can feel the baby’s head presenting in the birth canal. I wait for another contraction and push again. I scream with pain as another contraction tears through my body, and give another push that threatens to almost stop my heart.
The shoulders are out. One last push and I have my baby girl. Her lungs are wonderfully efficient, and she turns from purple to pink. She is alive. My ordeal is almost over. All that is left is to massage the fundus to encourage it to contract and expel the placenta. One last contraction and push, and the placenta lies on the plastic sheet. When the umbilical cord stops pulsing I tie it off with string close to the baby, and then a few inches further down, and then cut it in the middle of the tied section with the scissors. My baby is a separate entity; there are now two of us in prison.
Clutching the baby I wash us, pad myself up, dress the baby, and tie the placenta and bloodied towels up in the plastic sheet for Edwin to burn. I lay down and put the baby to my breast, who I can see will look the image of Liam. I celebrate the birth by eating all four of Edwin’s ham and tomato sandwiches.
You recently put out a new edition of your book formerly titled – The Porn Detective by changing the title to Mind Games and gave it a new cover too. Please share with us what prompted you to make-over this book?
I was told by an agent back in 2014 that she might be interested in representing me, but that I needed to re-write the whole book in the third person (I originally wrote it in the first person), start the book with some kind of conflict, cut out many of the events, and give it a new title as readers might think it was erotica. I thought to myself: ‘Sod that, I can’t be bothered, it’s fine as it is’. It took me three years to realise that she was right. There were too many events described, and I needed to cut some out and focus on just a few. So I did. I re-wrote the whole story in the third person in late 2016/early 2017, sent it off to her, and never heard from her again! However, the story is much better now I think, so it wasn’t a total waste of time. I also changed the front cover so that readers could see the difference.
I think I really connected with you after reading your memoir – Waiting in the Wings learning about your relationship with your mother Dot. All your other books are written as fiction, but are those stories in your books really fictional?
Mostly yes, although like any writer I tend to add in a few of my own experiences along the way. It’s up to the reader to decide for themselves which parts are fictional and which aren’t!
Thank you so much for visiting with us here today Stevie, and for sharing some insights into your writing and some insights into creating audio books and translations. A House Without Windows is the next book of yours on my list and after this juicy excerpt, I can’t wait to read it! I hope my readers will check out your books and find them as captivating as I do.
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