Each Thursday I ask ten questions to authors of mystery, thriller and suspense about their books, their inspirations and how to get away with the perfect murder. In the hot seat this week is... Steve Turnbull.
Technically, Steve was born a London cockney, until the age of five when a move to the suburbs taught him to 'talk posh'. Although a voracious reader since his early years, it wasn't until reading poet Laurie Lee's autobiography "Cider with Rosie" at the age of 15 that he felt spurred into becoming a writer. He has spent the last twenty years editing and writing for computer magazines, while crafting poetry and an impressive back catalogue of fiction.
Q1. Hello Steve! Can You Tell Us A Bit About Yourself And Your Books?
The fundamental question of all stories: Who am I?
A husband, father, son who can be social and gregarious but doesn't really like wasting time on small talk. A person who's worked for businesses, run businesses and had stressful business partners, and decided to throw it all in to work for myself. Alone.
I write Mystery, Thriller and Crime but in alternate worlds. My "flagship" series is set in a steampunk world with an Anglo-Indian female sleuth: Maliha Anderson.
But what I like most is ripping out the heart of the reader and stamping all over it. Or making them laugh. Or both, in quick succession. And always I want to make them think.
Q2. What Three Things Should Readers Expect From A Steve Turnbull Novel?
1. Female characters with agency.
2. Fast-paced action.
3. Something other people describe as grittiness, but I prefer the term "raw". If you have a paper-cut, I'll pour lemon juice on it.
Q3. Can You Tell Us About Your Character Maliha Anderson?
Maliha Anderson is a young woman with a Scottish Engineer father and Indian mother. The stories are set around 1908 and have an accurate historical setting, except for the fact the world has partial anti-gravity.
Maliha mostly wants to be left alone but the one thing she cannot tolerate is injustice, which gets her involved in tales involving murder, slavery, clash of empire. She's also very difficult and prickly. As the stories go on she becomes more focussed and resigned to her role.
Q4. If Your Books Were Turned Into Movies, Who Would Play Your Main Characters?
I never do this. I'm also a screenwriter and I know how the system works. I never describe my characters beyond the barest minimum necessary to the story and I know that every person who reads my stories will see the characters differently. And I like it that way.
But, if you were to press me, the most important thing is that Maliha is played by an Indian woman - Anglo Indian would be better but not essential - since she mostly takes after her mother in appearance.
Q5. How Do You Come Up With The Ideas For Your Stories – What Is Your Inspiration?
Ha. You ask a professional liar that question? I actually have no real idea. I have more ideas than I know what to do with.
I'm not one of these authors who keeps a notebook to jot down ideas. I'll have a dozen or more new ones every day. If I forget it really doesn't matter, another one will be along in a minute.
If I want to write about a specific character in a series I'll just put my thinking cap on, maybe review some history, and the idea will come. I have no time for inspiration.
Q6. What Do You Enjoy Most About Writing Mysteries?
Having my protagonist negotiate the twisty turny labyrinth I have set for her. I do like writing the action scenes, though Maliha is not an action-bunny, she's rather more cerebral.
Q7. What Are You Working On Right Now?
Well I'm in the process of launching KYMIERA which is an SF epic thriller (870 pages in paperback) - advance copy reviews have been excellent and it has been tickling the interest of TV production companies. After that I'll be writing the Maliha Anderson prequel: "The Taliesin Affair", which is referred to a number of times in the early books. Now I just have to figure out what happened.
Q8. Who Are Your Favourite Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Authors?
Roger Ellory - he writes amazingly powerful political thrillers set in the US (even though he's English). He also writes "raw", which is perhaps why I like him so much.
Q9. You're Being Sent To A Desert Island. You Can Only Take One Book With You. What Is It?
"How to survive on a desert island" (someone's written that, right?) I'm nothing if not practical ... in dealing with the fact I'm not very practical.
Q10. How Do You Get Away With The Perfect Murder?
Play the waiting game. They'll die eventually. Perfect.