Author Interview with Paulene Turner
Updated: Mar 31
Do you love #YA fiction?
What about Time Travel?
How about cool chicks with Australian accents?
Well, if you answered YES to the above questions, then you've come to the right place. Because I have a treat for you. I had the pleasure of interviewing an up and comer on the Young Adult Fantasy book scene-- Paulene Turner. She is smart, funny, and prolific. With a 6 book series set to debut later this year, she is on the fast track to becoming your favorite author. So lucky me, I was the first to interview this amazing writer.
So Paulene, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure! Thanks for speaking with me today! Well, I’m an ex-journalist, mother of twin daughters and twin pugs (not necessarily in that order!), living in Sydney, Australia. I’ve been working on my book series, The Time Travel Chronicles, for over a decade.
It’s the story of 16yo Madison Bryant and Riley Sinclair, who travel through history in a time machine. As they meet the locals, they try to help them solve problems using knowledge from the future. The consequences ripple through the timeline to devastating effect.
In book 1 they travel to Ancient Egypt, book 2 to medieval England, book 3 to the wild west, book 4 to the pirate era, book 5 to Edo Japan and book 6, they travel 15 years into the future.
Book 1 is out in July this year. And I hope to release books 2 and 3 by the end of 2023. With the rest out by the end of 2024. Hence, I’m a VERY busy woman.
Oh my gosh! Your books sound so exciting! Can you give us a bit more about your style of writing?
Absolutely! My writing tends towards adventure, and mystery, but I can never resist throwing a good handful of romance into the mix. I love a good villain, and a surprising twist and a lot of sassy dialogue. I write short stories, and short plays---some of which I directed myself for the Short and Sweet play festival in Sydney. You can see some of them on my vimeo site. https://vimeo.com/musketeers I also wrote and directed some short films with my family in all the roles, for the 48 hour film festival, Sydney.
I began as a screenwriter but eventually moved to “the dark side” of narrative fiction writing. The Time Travel Chronicles, began as a #nanowrimo project. I’m sure your readers know what nanowrimo is...National Novel Writing Month. It’s held every year in November and the challenge for writers all over the world is to write 50,000 words in one month. I’d been pondering a time travel series, where the protagonists traveled to all my favourite times in history, but I didn’t really know how to begin. So I just dived in with nanowrimo. I wrote 15,000 words, not 50,000. But I was up and running.
I always ask, because it’s fascinating– Can you tell me what your writing and revision process looks like?
My writing process starts with research, as my books are all historical fiction. I usually spend a month or two reading lots of books, taking notes. I’m not looking for big historical events or real-life characters, but the lifestyle, food, romance rituals. What would it be like to live in that period as a teenager? I fill an A4 pad and more with notes of the most interesting aspects of the historical period, then go back and highlight the best of the best to get the structure for the world, and make sure I don't miss any of the more juicy (and by that I mean gory) details of the time.
Next, I ‘cast’ my main characters. This is something I learnt from my daughters who are both excellent writers; they started writing novels when they were 14. I find an actor who has the right attitude (ie Colin Farrell for my main pirate character, Dustin Crowe), and put their images in a document, along with pictures of costumes from the time or architecture, landscape. Having something physical to hand is a great way to help you launch a character and setting quickly. This works really well for me—possibly because I’m a visual writer from my training as a screenwriter. Plus it legitimizes long slabs of procrastination before starting—Putting nice pictures in a file is not fun at all; it’s just hard work (yeah right!!).
Starting on the writing, I usually have a few points I know my characters need to get to. I sketch out some details and back stories of the characters and their motivations. I like to have a good idea of the ending before I start writing. Then, I set up a scene with the things I need to include in it, to move it along to where I want to get to. At that point, I let my characters meander through the scene, finding things along the way--like wandering along a beach collecting shells. This is the pantser bit. It’s always nice to have some flexibility to surprise yourself as you’re underway. And characters do surprise you, sometimes getting angry at things when you least expect it, or finding someone attractive that you hadn’t planned on.
Next, my daughters and husband do beta reads and give me their notes. Then I pass the manuscript to my structural editor, a couple of other beta readers, a sensitivity reader if I feel it’s necessary. The proof reader mops up what’s left.
I can tell you are an author through-and-through… So, what is your favorite part about being a writer?
My favourite thing about being a writer. Everything. Being able to create worlds, I lose myself in. I look through the window and see not the grass in need of cutting, the neighbour’s bulging bins, but medieval tournaments, pirates on the rigging in a wild sea chase, the sun setting behind an alien skyline. I love the words, being able to listen to music while I write (I have a playlist specially designed for each book in the series. The wild west playlist was the coolest, no question!). I like feeling the flow of the paragraph, the sounds of the words, the rhythm of narrative and dialogue. It’s like music when you’re in the moment. I love how the characters come alive in my mind.
The process of writing can be very hard. Sometimes, it’s not exaggerating to say it feels like torture snow-ploughing through the blank pages, filling in hundreds and thousands of details. But when you’ve endured enough pain and you get to the end, and you’re done, and you realise you have something there, with heart and love, and excitement and danger, and it’s complete...!!! Wow, there’s no feeling like that in the world. It’s a major high. And it’s addictive. Yup, I’m a writing junkie!
Any advice for debut authors?
For new/fellow authors, I say, write on...push on... Be fearless, don’t look back. Don’t worry about what anyone will say or if they’ll like it. First you have to love it. Let your imagination soar! And make sure your MC has the worst time, and that this reveals the best and worst of them. So your readers can love them as much as you do.
Paulene, because I have reading envy (never enough time to read all the things!) tell me about what you are currently reading…
Personally, my favourite author is Robin Hobb. I love her Farseer trilogy, a medieval fantasy in a land with a twisted kind of magic. Lately, I really enjoy Luke Arnold’s books, a trilogy set in world of magic gone wrong, with Fetch Phillips, a detective, in need of redemption, trying to get it back. And anything by Kate Quinn, who writes historical fiction with female protags around wartime. I also LOVED The Perfect Wife by J.A. Delaney, a tale of a murdered wife investigated by the AI created in her image. I adore stories about AIs, although I may not adore stories written by AIs.
I know you're gonna love Paulene as much as I do! So make sure you follow Paulene on Twitter @PauleneTurner and check out her website at www.pauleneturnerwrites.com