Having written as a hobby since she was a child L.E. Turner never attempted to get her writing published. Her debut novel, About the Nature of the Creature, will be available shortly and a sequel is already on the cards.
What inspired this novel?
I actually don’t really remember what originally sparked it but I do remember just having the character of Connie in my head, and the story coming from there. I started to write the story in 2002 when I was living in Australia. I originally set it in London, but I don’t really know the place well so I later changed this to my home town of Bristol. This was fantastic as it opened up a whole new world for the story – I’ve tried in a subtle way to bring into it some of the history and locations of the city, including the underground tunnels that a lot of people don’t know about. So in some ways there have been lots of small sparks of inspiration along the way, creating a richer context and story over the years.
You’ve been writing the novel since 2002, why are you getting it published now?
I wrote the first half of the novel in 2002 and 2003, but I was still at university at the time and so it would be in fits and starts around and between studying. I worked on it briefly in 2004 and 2005 when I was studying my Masters degree, but again, there wasn’t a lot of time for it. So I didn’t start working on it again until after I graduated. It was at that point that I changed a few things – put in the Bristol angle, and essentially went back to the beginning to bring that aspect into it. Over the years I’ve worked on it on and off but I never finished it. I had it in my head, but never got it down on paper.
Then in November 2010 I took part in NaNoWriMo. It was the third year I had attempted it – it’s a writing challenge where you have to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Looking back I still have no idea how I managed to do it. But what helped was that instead of writing something from scratch (as I had attempted in previous years), I started to write the sequel to About the Nature of the Creature. This meant that I already knew the characters, and as I had always planned it as a three of four book series, I knew where I wanted to take it. As a result of completing the challenge I was given a voucher to a print on demand independant-publishing service. I had never considered this before, but as someone concerned about the environment, I was swayed by the idea of print on demand. I have since read interviews with other independantly published authors who say the reason they do it is because they are too busy writing to worry about finding a publishing agent, publisher, etc. I have to say, that’s pretty much my feeling on it too.
I had someone ask me if this was vanity publishing. I had to look up what they meant, and I think not. I am not doing this to see my words in print (although that’s nice). I work in marketing, so for me I realise that its as much about me selling the book as how good the book is. I love books, I read all the time, and I have read more than a fair few that have made me wonder how they got published. I may be blinkered, but I believe in my story, I just hope others enjoy it too.
Is the story exactly as you had envisaged it when you first started writing?
Yes and no. The overall essence of the story is as I had imagined it. When I first finished writing it I felt there was a disconnection between the half I originally wrote and then the half I went onto complete. Reading it back whilst editing though, the disparity wasn’t there – it completely gelled. For me I can feel the differences in my life reflected when writing the two different halves. But I think this has only served to make it and Connie richer and more complex. Although the story itself has the ultimate goals achieved by the end, it pretty much wrote itself – sometimes surprising me with the directions it took me in. So although the end result was what I had expected and hoped for, the journey there was a little different than I had planned.
What makes a really good supernatural novel?
I think that’s a really difficult thing to quantify. My story concerns vampires and werewolves, and there are a lot of those stories out there at the moment. Ultimately what makes something good is the same thing that makes people enjoy reading it and that varies from story to story and reader to reader.
Concerning vampires and werewolves there are so many different types of novel out there and writers who have used known mythos and those who have invented new ones. Anne Rice, Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris, Stephanie Meyer and Laurell K. Hamilton, to name a few, all have a completely different take on the supernatural and all are completely valid, and to their readers, all are equally enjoyable.
Were there any cliches you wanted to avoid?
I think, when writing about vampires and werewolves, it is pretty much about writing cliches. I mean, it has been done so many times in so many different ways. And as different as the stories might be, there are always similarities that run through most of them in terms of how vampires and werewolves are portrayed. I think the key is to make the cliches work.
Which authors inspire you?
In terms of vampires and the supernatural, the books that really spoke to me and have been favourites of mine for years are those by Tom Holland. In The Vampyre he rewrites the life of Lord Byron as a vampire. As someone who has studied Byron, it is a pretty compelling and flawless piece of work. This was followed by Deliver Us From Evil, about Jack the Ripper and The Sleeper in the Sands which takes us to ancient Egypt. To date I think these are the most innovative and brilliantly written supernatural stories. But equally, I am completely hooked on Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Series and Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series.
Outside of the supernatural, per se, I have a passion for Michael Crichton, especially his techno thrillers and the technological and scientific aspect he pulls into them. I truly think he is one of the best writers of our time, and I could never hope to write anything like he has. To quote a line from Jason Stackhouse in the True Blood TV show – I’d like to lick his mind!
What are your hopes for your novel?
I guess as with any writer, I hope some people enjoy it. For me it is a story that was inside me and had to find its way to paper. But in that respect it was only the first of a series. I am hoping to continue to write Connie’s story, and more importantly the story of the world around her and her impact on it. The focus in this first story was on Purgatory, where the vampires and werewolves live, but her life and the repercussions of it go much wider than that. I hope I get to tell those stories of how Connie’s existence effects the entire world.