top of page

ABOUT ME

Photograph of author M K Turner

I was born, and still live, in Bristol, England. I have visited many wonderful cities across the globe, most of which I will re-visit time and time again, and should I ever be wealthy enough (must buy a lottery ticket!), may well invest in a little Pied-à-terre here and there, but I can’t imagine not having my home in or within spitting distance of Bristol. I’m married and I have two children, two beautiful grandchildren, and two German Shepherd brothers, Archie and Ted.

I left school at sixteen with a handful of qualifications and took a job as an office junior in a property business. I won’t bore you with the detail, but over the years, including a break when the children arrived, my career progressed from Office Junior to Regional Director. Long, long days and many wasted hours sitting in traffic on the motorway. The money was good; the habit was formed, and I delivered my targets with the required dedication and commitment. In March 2010, I was awarded Regional Director of the year (for 2009), and in December of the same year, I was made redundant. It was not totally unexpected, but the change was still a shock to the system. A recurring question ran through my mind during the first couple of months: how do people who don’t work fill those endless hours? I searched for the answer, as I knew without a doubt that I didn’t want to return to corporate life.

In my quest for time eating activities, I cooked properly with fresh ingredients; no more opening jars for me! I grew vegetables, and I discovered housework. I still didn’t like it, but did it with a modicum of enthusiasm. One day, at a loss for something to dust, plant or chop, I looked for a novel that I’d started to write many years before when the children were young. I didn’t find it, so shelved that idea and picked up another book to read. A few days later, my friend called. She had remained on the corporate treadmill, and I listened to all the latest gossip and ‘shock horror’ news. It was an amusing conversation, and at the end of it she announced “they wouldn’t believe this if you wrote it down.” Hmmm, could I do that? Could I pen a story to amuse her, and take her mind off conversion rates, targets and appraisals? I didn’t know, but with nothing better to do, I cleared the kitchen table and opened the laptop. Taking all those snippets of gossip, I wrote a story to make her smile. I changed names, mixed up mannerisms, exaggerated events, and Murderous Mishaps was written. It’s still filed as ‘awhodunitchicklitthing’ on my computer. I should mention at this point that I was aiming for a longish short story as my friend reads magazines not books, but I ended up with a novel length effort, which to her credit she read, although she was shocked to find she featured prominently, although under a pseudonym of course.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I challenged myself to write something more serious, and an idea came to me out of the blue whilst on holiday, and off I went. I enjoyed the process so much, and wanted to learn more, so I joined a local writing group. The lady who organised the group told of the pain of getting published, and the low returns, unless of course you find you are the next J K Rowling. I doubted I was, and I didn’t give it further serious consideration. Writing was reward enough, and I didn’t want to waste time chasing something that might never happen. I simply wanted to write stories about people, and preferably people involved in some crime or mystery. I had never heard of self-publishing. That came months later when a colleague mentioned her sister had recently self-published a book. She did what? Intrigued, I investigated this, and as they say, the rest is history – ongoing, of course. I have missed out the bits where I messed up by uploading the wrong file to Amazon, and how I deleted a final draft. Suffice to say it’s not been plain sailing.

But, here we are, a few years down the line, and although British detective is my genre of choice, (who doesn’t love a good mystery?), above all else, I write about people. What makes them tick, and how they will react in different circumstances? Unfortunately for them, I drop them into complicated and sometimes dangerous situations to see how they cope. As a result, we now have the Meredith & Hodge, Bearing Witness, and the Little Compton Mystery series. I’ve also started a new series, JJ Jenson, and published several standalones including the tongue in cheek Murderous Mishaps, which started it all.

And it all began with a throwaway line in a telephone conversation with my best friend.

 

Inspiration

I am often asked where I get my ideas for the stories I write, or what inspires me. The answer is not simple. Sometimes an idea for a storyline or character simply comes to me, usually at the most inconvenient time, and I have to jot it down to ensure safekeeping for when it’s needed. On other occasions, it is a news item, a newspaper article, or a passing comment, which sparks the beginning of what later becomes a full-blown story. Sometimes I ask my readers to give me a character they would like to read about. We’ve created some crackers between us. My friend Jane created Louie Trump. I needed a new character to bounce off Meredith, and she gave me his name, age, appearance and mannerisms, and a little of his back story. Trump slotted into Meredith’s team nicely.

 

My Writing Process

First, I get an idea, and then run it through a ‘What if?’ process. What if Meredith had a daughter? What if that character had killed someone? What if he turned the tables? What if she had never been told that? What if the train was cancelled? And I try some out to see what happens. Although I always have some idea of the course the story will take, and where it should end, it rarely works out that way as the characters inevitably take me off on a tangent.

When I sit down to begin, I try to have a list of ten to twenty bullet points. Who did what, and why, and what absolutely must be revealed during the story for the plot to work. I also have a paragraph or two on each of the main characters, giving their age, background, and connection to the other characters. I quickly draft the first chapter, which invariably is scrapped and rewritten several times during the overall process. As I think more about the characters than what should or shouldn’t happen, as they, and therefore the story, develop, it’s not unusual to find that what I thought might happen, doesn’t. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is always that the characters simply wouldn’t have done that, or put themselves in that situation, but I didn’t know that when I started writing.

For the best part, I start at the beginning and write in order of events, through to the end. If I ever get stuck on how to move from one event to the other, I occasionally write the scenes out of order, and then all becomes clear. With the Meredith and Hodge series, most of the stories will have the kernel of the next story at the end. I do this, not to frustrate the readers, as the story they are reading has been told, but to remind myself of an idea or development which must be included in the next story.

What do I read?

The simple answer is anything and everything. Since becoming an author myself, I have discovered many authors I may not have found in my previous life. I used to go into a bookshop (now replaced by Amazon) and be drawn to the familiar. I’d wander over to the crime, mystery, or thriller section, and check out whether Lynda La Plante, Val McDermid, John Grisham, Gerald Seymour, Patricia Cornwell, etc., had anything new in their section I had yet to read. That was unless I was going on holiday. Depending on how long the holiday was, I would need two to five books, (when I finish them I start on my husband’s selection), and therefore I need more variation. In this instance, I’d look for things that friends had recommended, or a cover would catch my eye. And then the list of favourite authors would get longer. So whilst crime, mysteries and thrillers will probably always be my first choice, in other genres I like books that make me laugh, books that make me cry, and books that take me to another time.

There really are far too many to choose favourites, but as a snap-shot of some of my all-time favourites:

 

A Place of Execution – Val McDermid – The first few chapters are so well written that I had to check I was reading fiction, and not a true crime story. I was captivated and found it difficult to put the book down. I later watched the TV adaptation, and while these are often disappointing, this one was the worst. The edge of your seat read, had been changed into an obvious and ‘paint-by-numbers’ affair. Awful.

A Time to Kill – John Grisham – I could read this again and again, and the closing speech by the defence attorney will always make me cry.

A Kind of Loving – Stan Barstow – I first read this as an impressionable teenager, and hated it because it didn’t have the ending I was expecting. Now I realise that’s just life.

Inconceivable – Ben Elton – I purchased this to see what a noisy, loud-mouthed comedian, who I didn’t particularly like, would write about. Semi-biographical it tells of a couple trying to conceive, and I found I liked him better when I couldn’t hear him. It has some great laugh out loud moments.

Love Story – Erich Segal – Also a teenage read, and as always it is better than the film, although that was pretty good. I remember being devastated on reading the opening line. I already knew what would happen in the end! But the characters carried me through. You almost forgot what was coming. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at all impressed with the sequel.

One Day – David Nichols – I enjoyed reading the tale of two lives by finding what was happening to them on the same day each year on the anniversary of their meeting. Although I was upset in the right place, my tears really flowed when at the end of the book, when he takes you back to the beginning and reinforces not only what could have been, but what should have been.

P.S I Love You – Cecilia Aherne – I loved the concept of this poor woman getting messages from her dead husband, and how they helped her move forward and deal with her grief.

To Sir With Love – E R Braithwaite – This is a brilliant book, poignant and inspirational, and based on the author’s personal experiences dealing with racism in a 1950s East End school.

Favourite Destinations

New York – I loved everything about New York, even the noise and the never ending traffic, and I only had time to experience a fraction of it. One of my favourite photographs is my husband ice skating in central park with that fabulous back drop. Definitely a place I would like to visit again and again.

 

Paris – Paris was an unexpected delight. Despite the expected hustle and bustle of a major capital city, I found everyone to be laid back and friendly, far more so than London, which I only visit if necessary. I had my 50th birthday lunch up the Eiffel Tower, got blisters wandering around Le Louvre, and I’m ashamed to say that the Mona Lisa totally underwhelmed me. Philistine? Probably! I’ve been to Paris three times now, and would jump on a plane at the drop of a hat if I had the chance. The more you go, the more you discover, which is probably true of most places, but I love being surprised by Paris. My favourite cocktail is a Mojito, and it was in Paris that I found a bar that makes the most perfect Mojito Royale – so if you’re going to visit, let me know, I’ll give you directions.

Cuba – Havana is simply wonderful. Noisy, hot, dusty, and very entertaining. We only had two days there. Most of the holiday was spent on an idyllic beach and if I ever go back, I will certainly want more. The Cuban people are so laid back as to be horizontal, friendly, and above all happy. Cuban musicians play everywhere and anywhere, and they’re all good. Nothing is ever too much trouble, just as long as you’re not in a hurry. Cubans have a whole different understanding of time, but that doesn’t matter, as it only takes about twenty-four hours to get onto Cuban time!

The Greek Islands – I’ve visited lots of them, many repeatedly, and simply love them. There are some holiday towns I would now choose to avoid, but that’s because I’m middle-aged (sad but true). I wear more when going out at night than I do in the day on the beach, and I get up as the sun rises rather than going to bed. The people are engaging, open, and friendly. Over the years, we’ve been invited to the butcher’s barbeque, joined in election celebrations, and been taken to the lemon groves of the hotel manager’s mother. Part of the charm, of course, is that the food is fabulous! I’ve yet to eat a Greek dish I didn’t like. My ideal meal: Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) to start, and to follow, Kleftiko (slow cooked leg of lamb), with a traditional Greek Salad of course. I don’t eat sweets, but my husband can never resist a selection of the pastries, most made with filo pastry, honey, nuts, and a million calories!

MK Turner lying down with her dogs
MK Turners children and dogs
bottom of page