Author of 18 books, including the popular Palm Beach series
Let me be clear. I reach out to a lot of authors to request interviews. I passed double digits a long time ago, folks. Here’s how it usually goes. 95% ignore my requests altogether, which is more helpful than you think. It shows me exactly how NOT to behave when I’m published myself someday (because, really, how hard is it to send a quick “No thank you” or have an assistant do it?). About 1% do send an email saying they’re unable (or unwilling) to commit to an interview. That’s OK, as I understand it’s not for everyone. I appreciate the acknowledgement. That leaves about 4%, right? This tiny piece of the pie is so incredible that it makes up for the other 96%. Trust me. These are the cream of the crop. Professional. Funny, in many cases. Witty. These are the writers we WANT to hear from, folks! That brings me to Tom Turner.
When I saw Tom Turner on Amazon, and noticed he’d published a whopping 18 books, I knew it was a long shot to get a response from him. If anyone was “too busy” (like so many of us claim to be) it would be a guy who has written 18 books in 6 years, right? I sent an email, figuring Tom Turner was as elusive in real life as Bigfoot or some other mythical creature. I mean, that many books in that short of a span of time? He couldn’t be real. Could he?
While I waited for a reply, I started looking him up to read some other interviews people had done with him. I realized that this guy isn’t just a writer. He’s got personality plus! He’s dry, funny, and incredibly down to earth. I had to talk to him, but how would little old me with my tiny, insignificant blog and no published novels to my name, ever get such an accomplished writer to speak with me?
Enough with the lead in, right? He answered! Pretty quickly, in fact! So, I’ll get to the interview, but first, here is a quick mini-bio on the writer who brought us the popular Palm Beach series, which—spoiler alert—is in talks to be a television series soon!
Taken from his Amazon Author page: A native New Englander, Tom Turner dropped out of college and ran a Vermont bar. Limping back a few years later to get his sheepskin, he went on to become an advertising copywriter, first in Boston, then New York. After 10 years of post-Mad Men life, he made both a career and geography change and ended up in Palm Beach, renovating houses and collecting raw materials for his novels. After stints in Charleston, then Skidaway Island, outside of Savannah, Tom recently moved to Delray Beach, where he’s busy writing about passion and murder among his neighbors. To date Tom has written eighteen crime thrillers and mysteries and is probably best known for his Charlie Crawford series set in Palm Beach.
And now, here is my interview with Tom Turner…
L.A. Can you introduce yourself to my subscribers? I’m sure they’d like to know where you’re from, how long you’ve been writing, and what you enjoy doing in your free time!
T.T. Hello everyone, I am Tom Turner, currently living in the Charlotte Airport where I’ve been for the last sixteen hours. (Weather they say, understaffed American Airlines, I’ve heard.) Anyway, one day I’ll get out of here and back home to Delray Beach, Florida, after spending the last week in New England where I grew up. I have written 18 books in 6 years, because I love writing and have no life except the occasional game of pickleball and a cocktail or two.
“The trick, (road to success), is to not look/read like an Indie author, but to have professional-looking covers, as few typo’s as possible, and write a damn good book.”~Tom Turner
L.A. From my research, it looks like you’ve published eighteen books to date. How have things changed in the publishing world since your first book?
T.T. I don’t really know the answer to this, so I’ll just go off on a tangent and wing it. My sense is that more and more Indie authors are in the game now. I mean, literally, millions. Many do one book and out, many continue on. Many are good, but the vast majority aren’t (I’ll just leave it at that.) The trick, i.e. road to success, is to not look/read like an Indie author, but to have professional-looking covers, as few typo’s as possible (I have two proofreaders and an editor but still they slip through), and write a damn good book. Thus, not look like an Indie but look like a traditionally published writer.
L.A. How many more novels does Tom Turner have in him?
T.T. Good question, Lee Ann. I have six more ready to be published and will write ’til I drop because I love it. But, I’m an old guy, and old guys run out of steam after a while. I’ve witnessed two I can think of whose work suffered as they got older: Tom Wolfe and Pat Conroy. (Maybe they were just too rich to be motivated!)
L.A. Can you talk a little about your writing process?
T.T. I write from about 9 (après pickleball at 7:15) until 4, 5 or 6 in the afternoon, seven days a week. But I have lots of distractions along the way- email, a phone call or two, watch a sports event on TV, etc. I write at home, a room at the local library or, believe it or not, a corner of my gym. It takes me about 3-4 months to write a book, but then I edit a lot (12-15 times).
L.A. What has been the most unexpected (or interesting or exciting) thing that has happened to you as a published author?
T.T. Hollywood. Two different producers are presently interested in making my Palm Beach series into a scripted TV series. It would be on Hulu, Amazon Prime or Peacock. Stay tuned!
(On negative book reviews) “If the criticism is justified, I’m fine with it and try to use it constructively. If, in my opinion, it’s not, I just put it behind me.”~Tom Turner
L.A. Many writers struggle to come up with one viable plot. Can you talk a little bit about your seemingly endless well of ideas, characters, and settings?
T.T. It gets harder and harder. I’ll come up with a new one, then remember, Wait, that’s too similar to the one in Palm Beach Predator (or Charleston Noir or whatever). You just have to think and think and reject and reject until finally it arrives!
L.A. How do you handle negative reviews and general criticism of your writing?
T.T. I get pissed off. Just kidding, but it’s partially true. If the criticism is justified, I’m fine with it and try to use it constructively. If, in my opinion, it’s not, I just put it behind me.
L.A. Do you have a traditional way you celebrate finishing a manuscript?
T.T. Type “The End.” Sorry to be a wiseass, but no I don’t have a traditional way to celebrate.
L.A. What advice would you give to someone who has writing ability, but is stuck in fear and can’t go the distance with a full-length manuscript?
T.T. You just gotta do it and not be concerned so much with the quality at first. Just get to the end. Then you can painstakingly go back over it, and over it, and over it, until you get it right. Again, see the finish line and finish it. That will give you great confidence and a sense of achievement, even if it’s not that good. Then you sharpen it and tighten it up, over and over until it is good.
L.A. What are you currently working on?
T.T. Dying for a Cocktail is the third (and best) in my Savannah sleuth sister series, which actually takes place in Charleston, SC, where I used to live. It’s funny, twisty and fast-paced. With murder and romance thrown in for good measure. Out on September 19. Readers can preorder it now on Amazon.
L.A. If someone has never heard of Tom Turner, but is willing to give your work a try, what is the one book you’d suggest they read first?
T.T. I’d go with the first, Palm Beach Nasty. It introduces Charlie Crawford, a NYC homicide cop who burns out and goes south. He’s smart, funny and drop-dead handsome (my women readers are in love!) It’s got great characters, love interests for Charlie, and a diverting plot (and ending that you never see coming)!
L.A. Do you have a favorite book? If so, what is it you like so much about this story?
T.T. Anything by Elmore Leonard, John O’Hara or James Lee Burke. They’re the best at very different styles of writing. What I like most is their spot-on dialogue.
Thank you to Tom Turner for taking time out of his busy writing schedule to speak with me, and in turn, provide inspiration for all the unpublished writers who are looking to successful authors for advice!
To learn more about Tom Turner, you can find him on his FaceBook Group and on his website.