Jen: This week we welcome J.R. Turner to Book Talk. J.R., will you please share a short bio with us?
J.R.: Born blonde and Polish, Jennifer Turner writes action adventure thrillers and romances. She resides in Wisconsin with her husband Eddie, a red-headed Texan, and her three children, Dustin, Molly and Matthew. Raised by an eclectic assortment of artists and musicians, her upbringing helped shape and hone her imagination and dedication to the romantic arts. Between her commitments to family and writing, she actively pursues three things–white chocolate, dark chocolate, and more chocolate.
Jen: Tell us about DFF: Dead Friends Forever and where it’s available.
J.R.: The first in the Extreme Hauntings series, DFF: Dead Friends Forever is a horror novel for young adults, though it’s creeped out grown men and women. When I chose to write a horror novel for kids, I decided that I wouldn’t pull any punches and make the story as edgy as possible.
Kaylee, the 14yr.old heroine, is a skater who discovers she can see ghosts, but worse, they can see her. A murder over a century ago unleashed darker forces that have only grown stronger and when she finds herself in a battle to free the trapped spirits in the Larson house. I think what I liked best about this story is that it doesn’t have an ending neatly tied with a pretty little bow. There are real consequences for the actions she takes.
The second book in the series (coming this fall) Schools Out 4Ever takes Kaylee to a haunted reformatory for girls, disguised as Barclay Hall, an elite boarding school for wayward girls. If she thought one ghost stalking her was bad, wait until she meets an entire school full of spirits.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
J.R.: The first time I really thought I might have some talent was in Mrs. Sanders second grade class. I wrote a short story, a poem, and a play the other students performed. (The wicked witch stole the Easter Bunny’s carrots and the heroine had to get them back so the bunny would have enough energy to deliver his eggs.)
Yet it wasn’t until 1999, when I was 28 years old, that I started to pursue writing seriously. In 2005, I submitted Stark Knight, an action/adventure with a good dose of romance to Echelon Press. After months of waiting to hear back (as is normal, but I had no fingernails left!) she called back. My husband answered and forced him to tell her the news first. So, in reality, he got the call.
Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
J.R.: Thrills, Chills, and Romance
Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
J.R.: I plot all the time. Without knowing where I’m going, I don’t flow, I crash like Niagara Falls. I create the motivations and the events, and then allow the inspiration and magic to come from the characters themselves as I wait to see how they’ll react to each obstacle.
Jen: Do you have a specific time or place that you write?
J.R.: I have an office in my basement with a fireplace and wall-to-wall bookshelves, but I’m never there. My previous office was in a basement as well, but I only had gray cinderblock to stare at there. I can’t bring myself to work down there anymore.
I have a laptop now and work at a secretary between my dining room and living room, but when the weather’s really nice, I work on my back patio.
My best writing time is five in the morning. I don’t know why. In my previous career as a contract artist I was a night owl and that was great because everyone was asleep, even the telemarketers.
Jen: How do you shut out disruptions?
J.R.: I wear earbuds and play music all the time. It’s the only way to block out the kids when they’re home from school on weekends or for summer vacation. Unfortunately, I never feel comfortable doing this unless my husband is home to play referee and answer the phone. During those times, I work on marketing, promotion and editing.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
J.R.: All kinds. I interviewed kids all over the place and ran the manuscript past my teen son. I tend to research heavily, sometimes spending hours hunting up information in order to write a single line. Since Kaylee is a skater, I spent a lot of time with the skaters in my area, watching movies like Wassup Rockers and Lords of Dogtown. Mostly, I read a lot of young adult books across many different genres.
Jen: Do you do anything special to celebrate a sale, new contract, or release?
J.R.: Yes! I take a few days away from the computer and get out of the house. In the summer, we go camping and in the winter, we travel to visit relatives we don’t get to see often. I never miss an opportunity to enjoy chocolate though!
Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
J.R.: I’d love to write a fantasy. The whole idea of world building and magic really appeals to me, but to do that well, I’d need more time than I have at the moment. I probably will never write a literary novel of great importance to the human race. Not because I don’t think they’re amazing, but because if given the choice between listening to the world’s greatest symphony perform or riding the world’s greatest rollercoaster, I’d choose the rollercoaster.
Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
J.R.: Oh, gosh, this is tough. From Stephen King I learned its okay to be weird, as long as you’re honest. From M. Knight Shyamalan I learned the importance of every detail pertaining to the story. From Jenny Siler, a.k.a. Alex Carr, I learned the importance of authentic detail and the leeway to be as gritty as I needed. From Julie Garwood, I learned romance can be intense and humorous. I’ve learned something from every author I’ve ever read. I don’t think a true writer can walk away from any book without some sort of insight into what kind of writer they want to be, or not be for that matter.
Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
J.R.: It’s funny, but I don’t normally dream when I’m in the thick of a book. I think the imagination is exhausted by the time I fall asleep. I do tend to ‘live’ as the character as I’m writing, often closing my eyes so I can really draw from deep down to show what he or she is going through. Between books though, I dream like crazy and come up with some interesting ideas.
Jen: If DFF: Dead Friends Forever was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the hero and heroine?
J.R.: For Kaylee, I’d love to see Abigail Breslin or maybe Madison Pettis, depending on how long it would take to get the film in production. Demi Lovato’s a doll though and I’d be tickled if she wanted to do a horror flick.
Jen: What’s next for you?
J.R.: There are five more books in the series planned, so I’ll be spending a lot of time with Kaylee in the Extreme Hauntings series. I’m developing some other adult horror novels however and looking into paranormal romance as well. Eventually I’d like to try my hand at screenplays.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
J.R.: My official website is: http://jennifer-turner.com My blog is: http://jr-turner.blogspot.com/ You can find me on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/JRTurner17 and I’m on Twitter here: Twitter: http://twitter.com/JRTurner
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
J.R.: I’m always interested in discovering what creeps other people out. For me, I can’t stand larvae (maggots) of any kind. Some people are afraid of heights or freak out in the dark. So I’d ask them what scares them the most!
Jen: Thank you so much for being our guest this week. Readers, J.R. is giving awat a free book thong and an autographed copy of Stark Knight, the first book in the Knight Inc. series, to a random commenter. To enter the drawing, you must post a comment either answering J.R.’s question or asking one of her. Then to finish your entry, you must leave your email address in your comment or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know you’d like to enter. The winner will be chosen on Thursday, July 30 around 5 pm PST.