This interview was conducted by author Maria Gibbs. The interview questions were given to all attending authors of the West Midlands Valenine Book signing event in Telford - February 4th 2017
1. Can we start with your name and where you’re from?
Chris Turnbull, and I live near York
2. Most authors love reading, is this true for you and if so who was/is your inspiration?
I love reading, being swept up into a new world by an author can be so incredible. I like to feel drawn into the book, I want to feel for the characters and go on the journey they are. As a youngster I was addicted to the Goosebump books by RL Stine, then later got hooked onto the Harry Potter series which was the main reason I wanted to write a book of my own.
3. What genre do you write in or do you cross over into many?
Although my books are seen by many as being very different, often described as (historical fiction, gothic, time-travel and of course I now have a children’s book) I do not see them all as being so different. I am a huge nerd when it comes to history, I love learning new things about the past and all my books are set somewhere in history that I find to be of interest. Whether it be 1889 Paris, the year the Eiffel tower opened, or just Victorian England. My books allow me to explore life in these times, learn and explore new things. My books also connect together with Love, whether that be the love of a partner, a family member or a friend.
4. If you could take any character from someone else’s book and make him/her your own creation who would it be and why?
I think without a doubt I would have loved to have created Albus Dumbledore. He is exactly the kind of character that I love. He is the father figure to Harry, a respected man, a humble man, and not to mention he can kick ass when needs be.
5. When did you first start writing?
I started writing when I was a teenager; I had an English teacher at the time that really inspired me to be creative. She did not tell you things were wrong and allowed you to express your creative side. Sadly she left the school after only one year and I was devastated, as her replacement was all about sticking to textbook work. Thankfully though I continued to write for fun in my spare time, and it was in 2013 that I started work on ‘The Vintage Coat’ which ended up being my first published work.
6. Do you plan every inch of your books or do you just let the words flow?
I give myself bullet points of things I would like to see happen. I also create character profiles so I know a little bit more about the people I am writing about. Then I just go with the flow and see where the story takes me. I find this way of writing keeps me excited, as I want to find out what happens next. My theory is if the story excites me, then hopefully it should the reader.
7. Who is your favourite character and why? (your own character)
Ooo that’s difficult to pick only one. I think I would choose Charlie from ‘The Vintage Coat’. He is a fun guy, loyal friend and I think I could be friends with him.
My second choice would be Tom from ‘Whitby’s Darkest Secret’ because I think he is adorable and a strong willed young man.
8. Was there an event in your life that triggered a particular book, or even a scene in a book? If so what was the book and what was the event?
‘The Vintage Coat’ is based purely on a military coat I purchased in an antique shop in Alston. It immediately sparked my imagination and out came a time-travel story about the coat, and also set in Alston.
Also my children’s book ‘A Home For Emy’ is based on true events as this is the story of my own dog.
9. Are you working on anything at the moment? If so can you share any tasty morsels?
I am currently working on a number of projects, the first being a sequel to ‘Whiby’s Darkest Secret’. I am having so much fun writing this book, and fans of the first book will be very surprised with the turn of events this new book takes.
Also I have been working on a Christmas themed book which I hope to release at the end of 2017. This is a collection of short stories and poems that I have enjoyed writing over the course of a number of years.
Finally (or at least what I will tell you for now) I have begun work on a second children’s book, it again will feature Emy and I hope to release it in early 2018.
10. What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out?
Don’t give up. Don’t follow the crowd.
I was always told that I needed to read and write every day, but for me (as well as most authors) I work full time. Sometimes I just need an evening off from writing and rest. I work better when I am not tired, so I would always say work at your own pace and do what is best for you.
11. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I love to travel, whether that is a day out to the coast or a holiday somewhere exciting. Me and my partner have a dog which we love to spend time with.
12. What is the hardest part of the whole writing, editing, marketing process for you?
Personally I don’t think there is an easy part. The whole process is very demanding if you wish to succeed. Being a writer is a full time job in itself and you have to go through it all, the good and bad bits. I love being in my office and writing, knowing there is no pressure and being able to just write what comes to me. Editing is never fun, and you go over the manuscript so many times you start to fall out of love with your work. However all the hard work is worth it when you finally have a copy in your hand…and even better is when somebody else tells you they like it.
13. We all have those friends or family members who make sweeping statements about our writing or the process, which is your particular bug bear?
After the release of my first book I had quite a few people ask me if they were going to get a free copy…erm No! There is no such thing as a free copy…even I don’t get a free copy and it’s my book.
Then you get those who say ‘I don’t know how you find the time to write a book’. These are usually the people who spend their evenings watching every single soap on TV, as well as other mindless television programs. Please note I have nothing against watching things you enjoy…I do it myself, but don’t spend every day of your life sat in front of the television and then question how I find time to write.
14. What is your idea of happiness?
Spending time with the ones I love. You don’t need a lot of money, or ‘things’ to be happy. Some of my best moments have been the simple one. Walking on the beach with my dog, sitting in the garden with my family, playing a silly game with my best friend and her family. These are the things that I remember more than anything.
15. For this one I want you to showcase your creativity by painting me a picture, with words, of your ideal setting to write in.
When I finished writing ‘Whiby’s Darkest Secret’ I decided that I wanted a spend a couple of nights away from home so I could focus on finishing the book…
I stayed in a two bed house in Whitby, the large oak wood dining table where I sat writing overlooked the harbour. I could hear seagulls and the sun was shining. In the morning I went for a walk, I soaked in the town atmosphere and even visited the ruined Abbey for the first time in my life. After a bit to eat I returned to the dining table, where my mind was freshly filled with the sounds and smells of the town I was writing about, and I even went back to change certain parts of the book. I sat there for hours until it got dark, the harbour lit up with a row of lights that lined the pathway. I finished the final few chapters that night.
16. What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh: I have a very rude sense of humour…enough said.
Cry: Most things as I am an emotional wreck. The worse times though is when I am reading/watching something about a dog that is sick, hurt or dying. I read ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ on the aeroplane back from New York and I started to cry uncontrollably…and I mean really going for it, I couldn’t speak I was in such a state. The man next to me must of wondered what the hell was going on.
17. You’re stranded on a desert island and you can take three men/women who would they be and why? This can be practical or purely sexual in nature.
David Attenborough…My hero in life and somebody I would love to meet. Plus he would probably know how to survive the island.
Joel Dommett – He was hilarious in ‘Celeb get me out of here’ so I think he would keep up entertained…plus he survived the jungle so I think he would help us survive an island.
My other half, because I would miss him (and he could try and smuggle the dog with him).
18. What is your most annoying habit?
I have a bad habit of zoning out if I am bored. Which is terrible when your other half tells you something important and you didn’t hear.
19. Please tell me about your books? For each one please send a pic (kindle cover would be perfect)
The Vintage Coat: A time-travel story set between modern day Alston and WWII.
D: Whitby’s Darkest Secret: A dark murderous story set in the backdrop of Victorian Whitby.
Carousel: Time-Travel tale. Jonathan is sent back to 1889 Paris, but unfortunately gets stuck there.
A Home For Emy: Children’s book based on true events. Illustrated beautifully by Rebecca Sharp of Dasilvaline.
Tea or Coffee? Tea
Cash or credit? I am really bad and almost never have cash on me
Cats or Dogs? Dogs
Beach or Mountain? Mountain
Summer or Winter – Tough!…I love Winter fashion, but I prefer the warmth of summer
Sweet or Savoury Sweet
Early riser or late riser? Late
Morning or Night? Night
Christmas Tree – real or fake? Real
Sex – Lights on or off? Who cares…
Thank you very much to Maria Gibbs for interviewing me. If you would like to read other author interviews for the Valentines Author event then visit Maria's webiste here: https://gibbsdream.wordpress.com/