In the lead-up to the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery in June, we’ve asked our contributors to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better. Let’s unravel the mystery behind the stories together.
Mandatory question considering the situation: How are you coping with the pandemic?
How am I coping? Like most writers, I’m fretting for the world and its people enduring tragedy in all corners. I’d rather write about dystopian worlds and historical events than live in or through one. And the habit of imagination doesn’t help a great deal; I keep dreaming up ways things could get worse – which is great in a story, but not so much in real life. Otherwise, my family is doing pretty well. We have a bit of cabin fever, of course. To the extent that we look forward to doing the grocery shopping – dangerous though it may be – for the sake of getting out. (Never thought I’d write that sentence) But in our family we’re all ‘sitty’ people and so probably coping better than more athletic triathlete sorts. Hope you’re okay in France? The numbers over there have been horrifying.
(Interviewer: Thanks, Paulene. We're doing fine. We live in the countryside and have a garden so it's not a problem getting exercise. I do the grocery shopping, which gives me some alone time. Not many cases here in Brittany compared to other regions.)
What's the inspiration behind your story?
I’ve always loved the challenge of a good mystery, figuring out whodunit, or why. I was and am a big Agatha Christie fan, and read and re-read the Sherlock Holmes tales. My favourite characters in any novel/show/story are the clever ones who can deduce things that people won’t come out and say. So much of our daily lives involves this skill; figuring out what people actually mean when they say they’re ‘fine’, from the clues they present rather than the words. Most of us spend at least part of our time wearing metaphoric masks and hiding what we think and feel – especially from ourselves.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the fifth book of a YA time travel series in which a teenage odd couple travel to some of history’s most exciting periods. My protagonist, Maddy, imagines she’s an expert on sub-text and reading people. If she was an earthworm, she says, she would be deep down in the dirt. Whereas her travelling companion, Riley, is a scientific genius who invented time travel, but he takes people at their word and can only ever burrow beneath the surface grains.
What's the key ingredient for a ripping mystery?
I believe that every good story, no matter what genre, has a mystery at its core; something to keep people guessing or wondering. In these COVID-19 times, we hope there’s a Sherlock in the medical world, who can solve the mystery of how to kick the virus’s butt!
Where can readers find you?
My short stories and various writings can be found at www.pauleneturnerwrites.com