The following is ‘my’ stop on author’s James M. Turner’s blog tour.
Bio - James M. Turner is an author, composer, musician and screenwriter. Born in the UK in the heart of rural Cheshire in 1961 where he completed his secondary education before re-locating to Manchester in the late 1970's to begin studying the Saxophone. During the mid 80's establishes himself as a popular choice for successful pop groups of the day and goes on to play with many acts including UK pop phenomena 'Bros' and 'Take That'
Moves to Thailand in 2002 which is largely the setting for his first auto-biographical book 'Beyond The Comfort Zone' based partly upon his experiences there. Relocates again in 2005 to Los Angeles California and begins to work in the Film business, working on films such as Crystal Sky Pictures 'Tekken' (imdb), El Dorado (imdb) as well as 'Annihilation Earth' (imdb) and 'Witchville' (imdb) for the Sci-Fi channel. His first Television series screenplay 'The Taker' is currently in development.
Besides his other talents James is a keen swimmer and linguist. As well as English he speaks both Spanish and Thai, his Mandarin Chinese is still a work in progress. When he is not on film sets he divides his time between Los Angeles, Manchester and Asia.
Should you have a question or comment for James, please utilize the below comment space provided. James will answer as many questions as possible within the next few days. Please check back.
Without further ado, I proudly introduce James M. Turner. Thanks for visiting with us today James…
JMT: Thanks for having me.
GG: James, your new book, ‘Beyond The Comfort Zone’ is damn gritty. Is this what the industry calls a ‘memoir-thriller’ genre?
JMT: That's the first time I've heard that expression. But yes, I think that would definitely sum up the nature of the journey of the book, it certainly has some of that aforementioned grit sprinkled about the pages. Memoir/thriller is a phrase I'll be using from now on, so thanks for that!
GG: Who are you? How did you reach this point in your life—writing all this chaos with subtle, international intrigue?
JMT. I'm originally from Manchester in the UK, but have lived in a few countries now. Something which I seem destined to continue for quite a while. I was, for most of my adult life, a professional musician and although I've always written in some form or another my music career was forever overshadowing any writing I did. I do believe fortune favors the brave though, so I've never been short of an adventure or two in my life. All that probably contributes to my writing.
GG: You’ve mentioned having offers for BTCZ by traditional publishers but decided to write your ‘own’ story, tell us about that.
JMT. Because I have played with some fairly big artists there was a suggestion that I should write a more music focused book. I didn't really want to write another kiss and tell, about life on the road or the people I had worked with. I thought it was an important element to include in the book, but not that it should be the core of the narrative. The end result is better for it I think and I'm pretty happy with that. Now that I have the book as I want it and it has been favorably received, I'm not against another publisher coming along and taking on certain foreign territories, such as the USA, because I do have limited resources of both time and money.
GG: In fact, one editor said: “...You seem to be a method writer, and I don't recommend it for anyone. Most never return....” You didn’t know whether to consider it a compliment or a warning—please elaborate.
JMT. I think that he was referring to the fact that this kind of approach (like method acting) can leave a very deep and lasting emotional legacy with the person engaged in it. For me, at the end of a day's writing, it did leave me emotionally exhausted. Some parts of the book are very sad, others joyful and each leaves its residue long after the keys have stopped chattering. I can't write any other way. I have to be that person, live their pain, try to understand their joy. Sometimes I take a very deep breath before starting to write.
GG: Will you continue to write, perhaps a sequel? Have you anything in development now?
JMT. I will continue to write and I feel this may be my newest and last incarnation. I have a couple of book ideas forming at the moment, as I mentioned though, that will involve me travelling to one location to absorb it for a while. I have a finished screenplay for a TV series I have written, which is heading into further development or pre-production this year, and another in the early planning stages. I don't think a sequel to BTCZ is on the agenda at the moment, but a lot of people have asked me to write one. You never know.
GG: James, in your interview (blog stop), with Zoe Winters you said: “...I did set out as if I was writing a fictional book....” And yet BTCZ is non-fiction; that my friend is hairy stuff. Honestly, the story begs for further media...tell us how the film venture is going?
JMT. I wanted the book to be as exciting to read as it was to live it. I think I managed that, but my template was always movie/thriller right from the start of writing. I'd like the story to reach as many people as possible, that's largely in the hands of others, but I'd like to see some foreign rights deals in the near future. I would dearly love to tell you what is going on with the film rights to BTCZ at the moment, but I can't. Let's just say that there are conversations taking place as we speak.
GG: Amazon, both US and UK editions, has BTCZ with nothing but 5 star reviews, that has to convince you the story resonates. Elaborate specifically/concisely why you think that is?
JMT. That's a difficult question to answer. I guess we all feel for the suffering of a helpless child. Also, this isn't just a story about me. It's actually a story of two young men, basically good people, who are stuck in the middle of a maelstrom trying to do the right thing and help others - with little concern for personal safety or financial gain. I think we all need to believe that there are still those of us out there who will risk everything for a stranger.
GG: James, you’ve written an extraordinary piece of work...tell us the secrets of your writing process...those elements you consider most important?
JMT. Thank you for that compliment, it's very humbling. I don't know that I have a secret. I know that I spend a lot of time thinking about the balance between too much and not enough. Whether that's in descriptions of environments, or people. There are some places where you just have to let the story run and keep the prose direct and the dialogue crisp. That's my main area of concentration, walking the knife edge. At the end of it all when the last full stop is in place it is all about how something makes you feel. Not how clever it is, how delicate the prose, how beautiful the descriptions. But, did this book make me feel anything deeply enough to live with me after the page is closed.
GG: Given the story premise and your heart, it seems only natural for you to have established a charity...please tell the readers about it.
JMT: At the moment I have just established a mechanism for donations on my website. The goal of this is to provide for children who have little opportunity or access to some of the things we in the west take for granted. Food, clothing, education, even the right to a life without fear. In the first instance it is likely that this will be a support mechanism for others already doing this work. So we are talking about orphanages etc; providing food, clothing, or whatever they are lacking or need help with. In the long term I'd like to build an infrastructure that helps children build value in their lives. Education, computers, work skills, sustainable business models that not only help them move forward but allow them to help others do the same.
GG: James, you have my sincere appreciation and thanks for making the Character Happens! blog a stop on your tour. Is there anything you would like to say in general?
JMT. I would like to thank you for inviting me on to Character Happens! and presenting me with some very thoughtful and insightful questions. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank everyone that has taken the time to vote and review BTCZ on Amazon as well as the many people who send me emails from around the world. I'm glad that the book has touched you enough to write to me and I'm always grateful to receive your messages (I reply to all…eventually). Please continue spreading the word.