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Interview with mystery writer, Edward Turbeville

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Hailing from the ancient Forest of Dean, author Edward Turbeville encapsulates the unmistakeable Englishness of traditional, “clue-puzzle” mysteries in both his appearance and published works: Death at Delphi, The Lock, and The Poisoned Vol-Au-Vent. I’ve read all of these—completing The Poisoned Vol-Au-Vent in a day—and would highly recommend them to fans of mystery/detective fiction. In each book, Turbeville masterfully leads the reader through a web of intrigue, while presenting the human impact of the crimes in realistic—yet relatable—terms.  I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with Turbeville recently, to discuss writing, books, and inspirations with.

Read more about The Poisoned Vol-Au-Vent

I started by asking him about his most recent release, The Poisoned Vol-Au-Vent, a murder mystery set in 1970s suburban society…

It’s based on the suburb of Charlton Kings in Cheltenham, a town I lived in some years ago. I wanted to take readers on a tour of the social whirl back then, from cocktail parties and fondue nights to coffee mornings and progressive dinners. Some characters, the murderer in particular, are loosely inspired by real people. Daphne, in appearance, is a tribute to Margot Leadbetter (Penelope Keith) in the UK sitcom The Good Life.

While reading The Poisoned Vol-Au-Vent, Death at Delphi, and The Lock, I noticed your detectives tend to be reluctant members of the public, why is that?

My detectives tend to be members of the public because I’ve always preferred the “amateur detective” to the professional, for example a Miss Marple rather than a Roderick Alleyn (Ngaio Marsh’s detective). There’s something more exciting and more of an adventure when an ordinary person is flung into a quest to solve a deadly mystery. My favourite Agatha Christie novels are the mystery adventure stories, such as The Man in the Brown Suit and They Came to Baghdad. I don’t know if all my detectives are reluctant. Perry Beck in The Lock is certainly reluctant, because due to his past he prefers to lie low and avoid the police. Jayne, in Death at Delphi, is much more willing to investigate her friend’s death.

Your writing style could be termed as a “steam-of-consciousness”, in that the reader has an omnipotent view of all the characters’ thoughts and feelings without any in-depth descriptions. Why did you choose to write in such a way?

In terms of stream-of-consciousness, this has varied a little from book to book. In some of the ones I’ve been writing (still unpublished) we only get into one character’s head. With The Poisoned Vol-au-vent, I had a larger cast of characters, and although Marjorie is the heroine, I wanted to put others into the spotlight such as Daphne, who will appear in future novels. If I was inspired by anything in the way I wrote this, it was possibly a Jilly Cooper novel, where we get inside the heads of lots of different characters. That said, there’s a limit how many characters’ heads you can get into without wrecking the mystery, since you need a few suspects to keep the reader guessing. If you delve into everyone’s thoughts it quickly becomes obvious who is innocent or not. Unless you have an unreliable narrator, which Agatha Christie was successful with several times.

Read more about The Lock

What compelled you to become a mystery writer?

What really inspired me to become a mystery writer was a great love of murder mystery novels, and in particular the works of Agatha Christie.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about becoming an independently published mystery writer?

The advice I would give to anyone trying to become a writer is to write something that you would enjoy reading, because it’s easier and more fun. Secondly, become an active member of the writing community and interact with other authors, as this can be vital support. Writing in any genre is rarely a “get rich quick” occupation, so you need to find what rewards you can, and one of these is being happy with your own story.

Edward Turbeville’s website: 

Edward Turbeville’s Amazon Author Central Page:

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