Happy Friday everyone, is just a day before All Hallows Eve, so who better to introduce you to but Wendy Turbin, who’s novel Sleeping Dogs has a spooky feel as her detective can see ghosts.
What name do you write under? My own name on the cover. I thought about using a pen name as I worried that ‘Wendy Turbin’ wasn’t ‘crime’ enough – it sounded a bit saga-ish, I thought, but then I’d probably just get confused in interviews and forget who I was supposed to be. I would certainly use a penname or perhaps initials if I wrote across different genres so the reader would know what they were getting, but I have a criminal heart and I’m proud of it, so I’ll stay Wendy Turbin for now.
Where are you from, live or work? I’m an Essex girl – though my white stiletto days are far behind me now – but I lived in London and other Home Counties for many years before moving back to my home county. Now I live near the sunny seaside resort of Clacton on Sea which prompted the fictional setting for Sleeping Dogs.
Tell me two things that people may not know about you. One is I have a sneaking love of reality TV competitions like America’s Top Model – a glimpse into another world fascinates me. The aspirations of the contestants are so poignant – all those hopes and dreams so nakedly on display – though the teenage squeals of excitement can hurt my ears.
The second is that I struggle with sorting out my left from my right. I have to consciously think about it, and I can’t do points of the compass at all. So, when I’m following directions to somewhere new, I’m always getting lost. It can be interesting – but I hate being late so always leave extra time to get anywhere new.
Do you have any hobbies? Lots – but never seem to have much time for them. Writing has been my main one since I was a child, when I was making up stories for my favourite TV shows including episodes of Star Trek. I’m not sure Captain Kirk would have approved – I remember killing him off so I must have had an early affinity for crime. In common with many others I’ve been gardening this year.
What is your favourite book(s) and why? I couldn’t possibly choose one – or even a dozen. I love crime – especially crime with humour so Mick Herron’s Slow Horses, and the gentler No I Ladies Detective series are favourites – but if I had a gun to my head to choose one, Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies might get my vote as the favourite. The small-town gossip and the slow reveal of who did what to whom, the humour and the pathos and the powerful finale all add up to something special.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer? I’ve always scribbled stories, but the idea of being a published novelist was a far-off dream for many years. I dabbled as a hobby but then I realised time might not be on my side and in a fit of madness I applied to do an MA in Crime Fiction at UEA. To my astonishment and delight I was accepted, and it was an inspirational experience.
What type of books/genre do you write? My heart belongs to crime, especially murder mystery, and I love a bit of supernatural. I’ve combined those for Sleeping Dogs is the first of planned series about a struggling female private investigator who sees ghosts. My publisher describes it as a ‘feel-good novel’ which has ‘emotional depth’ so not quite a cosy, but no graphic violence and some humour along the way.
How would you describe your writing style? My PI, Penny Wiseman has a wry and sometimes self-deprecating voice. Mine is not a hard-core gritty novel – I aim in both first and third person, to be warm and accessible – with minimal swearing.
What comes first for you – character, plot or setting? Character – for me everything stems from that because that’s what keep me reading. It’s the characters that I get to know in a fictional world that draw me to the next novel and the next. It’s like making a friend and wanting to know more about them.
Do you have a writing routine? I do try to write creatively in the mornings when my brain is uncluttered, but it has to be flexible around other commitments. I’ve sometimes had a creative burst at midnight or been editing at tea-time so no, actually I’ve no routine at all.
Do you become a ‘method’ writer? I live in my character’s heads when I’m ‘in the zone’ and if I’m disturbed, I sometimes have trouble coming back to this world in a hurry. I wouldn’t want to try out some of the action for real though.
What are you currently working on? The second in the Penny Wiseman series is cooking nicely. I’m in that manic phase where I’m sort of telling myself the story and giving my characters freedom to explore. I don’t have the whole outline in my head yet which is exciting as unexpected things keep happening as I’m writing. It’s the fun part.
What has been the most fulfilling part of your writing career? The sheer joy of having Sleeping Dogs accepted for publication by the lovely Hobeck Books. It’s a dream come true and nothing can beat the buzz of knowing that my book will be out there in the world and, hopefully, be enjoyed by lots of readers The most nourishing for my writer’s soul was the UAE’s MA programme in Crime Fiction Writing. It was two years of submitting and critiquing works in progress within an incredibly supportive environment, and in the company of my amazingly talented, generous and supportive fellow students. The best writer’s group ever!
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? Write the book you want to read and don’t stray too far from that. That sums it up for me. (Thank you, Mick Herron – a wonderful author and a very nice man)
What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to become a writer? Firstly, sit down and do it. Once you have something on the page anything is possible, Until then, it’s just a vague idea. When you have something, work on the edits and make it the best you can do. Then seek out feedback from others – it hurts but your work will be improved. Like almost anything worth doing, it takes time to learn the craft.
What have you published recently? Sleeping Dogs is my debut novel which is out in January, and I have a flash fiction included in the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology in December which is a lovely boost. Such short fiction is great for exploring styles and characters and is an excellent discipline for editing.
Do you think there’s still some snobbery between commercial and self-publishing? Less so these days, I would hope. There are a lot of excellent self-published writers out there. Unfortunately, there are quite a few not so good ones, so it can be hard for readers to find authors they like.
How do you market your writing? Ask my publisher! No, but seriously, I’m still feeling my way with all this. I’m a bit old school in my social media. Twitter is a mystery to me, I’m trying to learn because its expected authors use these tools now. It’s part of the job. My author website has just gone ‘live’ which is very exciting. Hobeck Books have set it up and made it look wonderful – and I’ve posted my first ever blog this week. I’m so excited!
Where can people find your work? Sleeping Dogs is available to pre-order the Kindle book from Amazon now and will be published on January 12th next year.
Where can people find you on social media and online?
Thank you Wendy, I’ll be pre-ordering my copy of Sleeping Dogs very soon.