Interview with Neil Turner, Author of Scared Silent
12 May 2022
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Scared Silent?
Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m a hopeless sucker for underdogs. My novels tend to grow out of juxtapositions of stories and bits of information that stick with me, so I can’t recall exactly how Scared Silent developed in my mind (and believe me, one doesn’t want to examine the inner workings of my mind too closely!).
My stories are built around people caught up in terrible situations, and the desperate circumstances of seemingly disposable people were on my mind as I wrote Scared Silent. The novel is something of a cautionary tale about the cost of not supporting youth who are cast adrift without a healthy support system, but it also targets prosecutors who treat the justice system as a blood sport.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Scared Silent, what would they be?
I think Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” is appropriate for Tony in Scared Silent and throughout the series. Reaching way back in time, Elvis Presley sang a song in the 1960s called In the Ghetto that is excruciatingly poignant. The story it tells comes to mind not only for Denzel, but also for Darnel Wix and those around him.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
I’m an avid reader of several fiction genres, but if forced to choose, I’d select thrillers and suspense of all stripes. I also read a lot of nonfiction, with a bias toward biography and history. As an aside, I think it’s essential for a writer to be a reader.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
I’m very excited about sinking my teeth into A Place Called Freedom by Ken Follett. Great writer! I’ve pre-ordered the next Dismas Hardy novel from John Lescroart. I love the character and series. As always over the past year or two, there’s a Robert Dugoni novel in the pile. I better stop myself there… Well, there’s also The Anomaly by Herve Le Tellier, Gilly MacMillan’s The Long Weekend, and What Happened to the Bennetts by Lisa Scottoline. And now I’ll really stop.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
Yikes, that’s a tough one. I always enjoy the opening chapter, where I start assembling a puzzle for readers to sort through, but let’s go with a later scene in Scared Silent that introduces a new character nicknamed Chippy. I already know she’ll be back in future books. Chippy is different from any character I’ve created before and plays a pivotal role in the story. I love discovering new characters to spend time with!
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
I’m afraid I don’t (unless listening to music while writing is quirky? Nah). However, I’ve heard some wild stories from and about other writers. An author who is at his most productive while writing in the bathtub probably tops the list, on two counts. First, for the sheer lunacy of it (I hope he writes in longhand; I should have asked when he told the story) and secondly, for not thinking twice about telling us!
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
Motto: Don’t do anything in the shadows that you wouldn’t do in the town square at noon.
Philosophy: Live and let live.
Quotes: You honestly don’t want to get me started on this topic…
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
Don’t be too quick to judge; we all have a story that informs who we are and what we do in any given moment. There are complicated circumstances and jumbled emotions behind Denzel’s choices in Scared Silent.
Neil Turner is the author of the new book Scared Silent
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