Tom Turner - Cults, Money and Murder
A native New Englander, Tom Turner dropped out of college and ran a Vermont bar. Limping back a few years later to get his sheepskin, he went on to become an advertising copywriter, first in Boston, then New York. After 10 years of post-Mad Men life, he made both a career and geography change and ended up in Palm Beach, renovating houses and collecting raw materials for his novels. He now lives on Skidaway Island, outside of Savannah, where he’s writing books about passion and murder among his neighbors. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Palm Beach Taboo.
Please give us a short introduction to what Palm Beach Taboo is about.
Taboo is about a dangerous cult in Palm Beach. It calls itself a “congregation” and professes to be about altruism and philanthropy. Detectives Crawford and Ott investigate a murder within its ranks and find out it’s really about sex and money. Before they know it they’ve got a ton of suspects and no clue whodunit.
What inspired you to write about a dangerous cult?
I’ve read a lot about them and they almost all end badly - mass suicide, child sex trafficking, and other seriously bad things.
Why did you decide to bring the Mensa society into the story?
I just felt it would be a good twist and add another layer.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Not many. I’m not a bad pickleball player and a pretty good father.
Tell us more about the cover and how it came about.
My cover designer is the best. I claim no credit for it, except my name!
Why do you write mysteries? What drew you to the genre?
I like to kill people and I like twist and turns with a dash of humor.
Do any of your characters take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
Mort Ott, one of my detectives, has a life, and mind, of his own. I try to control him but he always overrules me and does exactly what he wants.
This is book 10 of a series. Can it be read as a standalone?
Yes, they absolutely can all be read as standalones. My editor drummed it into my head to describe the characters in chapters 1 or 2 and give the reader a good description of them. Same with Palm Beach.
Which book out of the series is your personal favorite and why?
Palm Beach Predator because the bad guy is the biggest, baddest badass I could ever create. He’s very smart and talented, too.
When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
Start typing—sorry, that was lame. I know where I’m going to end up but meander all over the place, and make it up as I go before I get to the end.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
Six hours a day or 1,000 words, whatever comes first.
What are you working on right now?
Book number 11.