Over the warmer months, we’re always looking for great summer reads. The perfect book for a day at the beach, or to wile away the hours in a local café. One book we discovered is by a local author, Karen Turner, and is called Torn.
We recently sat down with Karen to chat about how Torn came about, and what she’s working on next.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My mother was English and my father Italian so I enjoyed a culturally diverse childhood. I loved reading and writing from a very young age and studied languages, literature and history outside of the normal school curriculum. When I was 19, I went to live in England – in a town called Otley in Yorkshire. This town and the rolling beauty of its surrounds, inspired the landscape, houses and village life described in Torn. Wolstone, my town in Torn, was based on Otley.
I spent over 20 years in Financial Services, training financial planners and writing financial documentation and news articles. It has only been in the last eight or so years that I returned to my first love – writing fiction.
Tell us a little about the three books you’ve already published?
My first book was a series of short stories called All That and Everything, which was published in 2009. I was so blessed that a number of the stories won awards, including the Society of Women Writers Vic Biennial Literary Award, and the Free XpressSion Literary Competition.
I then set about writing a trilogy, with the first two installments already published. The first book, Torn, is a coming of age story of love and treachery during the turbulent years of the Napoleonic Wars. It tells the story of a young girl, Alex Broughton, and her journey to womanhood in a time when women had little control over their own destinies.
The second book in the trilogy, Inviolate, continues Alex’s story and her passionate struggle for love and freedom against all the constraints of her time.
What did it feel like to see your very first published book on book shelves?
It’s surreal – I smile just remembering it. I’d gone to Sydney for an interview and just happened to go into Dymock’s on George Street and Torn was there on the shelf! I was so excited I took a photo of it!
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Alex was raised in rural Yorkshire and although she had the benefit of wealth and education, her parents were absent much of the time. Her best friend was her older brother who led her into all sorts of hoydenish pursuits. She was intelligent, irreverent and too headstrong for a girl of her times and when she falls in love with the wrong person she soon learns that her life is not hers to control.
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m currently working on the third and final installment in the Torn series. The first draft is almost done – now the fun begins.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I have so many other books to write – stories in my head all clamouring to get out. When I have finished the Torn series, I have another book to begin work on, and after that another two-book series based on a character in Inviolate, who I found particularly intriguing and think he has an interesting story to tell.
What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?
My books have been classified as both Women’s Fiction and Historical Fiction – although I have quite a few male fans which surprised me! I love these genres, I think it’s the history that attracts me, and I’m a bit of a romantic at heart so my books will always have that element too.
Which writers inspire you?
My greatest inspiration was an English writer named Pamela Belle. I have every book she ever wrote and have read them several times. Other writers I love are Philippa Gregory, Diana Gabaldon. I also enjoy Charlaine Harris, and of course George R.R. Martin – who doesn’t love him!!
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Now that’s a hard one. I’ve often thought about that and haven’t come up with anyone. There are other characters I’ve lined up actors for: I have a role for Maggie Smith, if she’s free!! Also I’ve decided that Luke Pasqualino would be perfect for one of my characters and Natalie Dormer for another. As for Alex and Patrick, my lead characters, I have no idea!
How much research do you do for each book?
Way more than I need. I research everything starting with the obvious, clothing, language, houses etc. But I also look at what was going on in current affairs at the time, what plants and trees they had in their gardens, the birds and animals that were native to the area. I look at the food they ate, how they behaved in public, social standards and how to address people when you first meet them – particularly the upper classes. A lot of what I research I don’t use but it puts me in the time so I can picture myself there and then let the scene unfold before me like a movie. I don’t know if that’s how other writers do it, but it works for me.
Why do you write?
Because I can’t stop.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
When I first began writing I was very proper, no swear words or naughty bits. As I’ve evolved, I began being a bit more daring. A great exercise was to write Counterpoint, which is a companion to Torn in the form of stories from Patrick’s point of view. I started writing these as a way of working outside my comfort zone – Patrick is a drinker and womanizer. He swears profusely and places no limits on himself. Writing Patrick’s stories has opened me up as a writer – I now write lots of naughty bits and enjoy writing them.
Do you ever get writer’s Block and how do you combat it?
Oh yeah but I find the best way to get through it is to just write any old rubbish. When you do that, you’ve got a result that you might fix up and make work. Either way, somewhere along the way you find your groove and it just works. Whatever happens, you just need to write and accept that some, if not most, of what you write will need to be tossed out, but it gets you over the block.
Tell us about the cover/s and how they came about?
Even before I knew that Torn would be published I knew what it would look like. There is a lovely historical homestead near where I live with some beautiful old oak trees, and since the oak tree featured heavily in both Torn and Inviolate, I wanted the image of the tree on the cover. My publisher argued with me about it, but I insisted and even threatened to not publish if I didn’t get my tree! In the end I won the argument. When we started receiving so many positive comments about it, the publisher graciously admitted that I’d been right. We had no subsequent argument over the cover for Inviolate.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
For me it does. I like colour, and I like a cover that creates a mood, a feel for what the story might be about. That’s what I tried to achieve with the cover of Torn.
You recently created a trailer for Torn. How did this come about?
I’d read an article about the emergence of book trailers and how popular they are. So I started doing some research into them and found that they are, particularly in this digital age, an important marketing tool. I developed a story board, engaged a group of people to speak the parts, and wrote a script for them. Then I spoke to my husband who is a short film producer, and cajoled him into creating it for me. He’d never done a book trailer before. Not sure if he’s willing to do another one – I was a difficult client!
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Karen Turner – Author