Lorraine Turnbull – Q&A

Mum’s the Word by Lorraine Turnbull was published on 23 April 2021.

Lorraine kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Mums the Word.

Mum’s the Word is my debut novel. I’ve written a couple of non-fiction smallholding books and a memoir of my time leading up to the purchase of my first smallholding. I felt it was time to revisit my policing days and try a step in a different direction in my writing.

Mum’s the Word is set on a small Scottish farm. Ann-Marie Ross murders her abusive husband by killing him with a skillet and feeding him to the pigs, but this is a feel-good story! Assisted by her friend and then by her mother, she thinks she’s got away with murder, but life just keeps getting in the way! As the women in the story regain their independence, Ann-Marie is tormented by the threat of discovery. Filled with humour and sensitivity, this fast-paced novel is guaranteed to make you smile at the end.

2. What inspired the book?

A random conversation with my husband about how easy it is to murder people if you plan it properly and can resist the temptation to tell anyone! We were living in Cornwall at the time, and there was an article in the local paper about how a man was caught simply by trying to cash in his wife’s insurance money too soon after her untimely death.

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

For non-fiction I plan, plan and plan, but the joy of writing Mum’s the Word was simply as the characters, the storyline and the dialogue just popped into my head and I wrote it down. Sometimes just before I dozed off at night and sometimes randomly during the day. It was really liberating!

4. Having been through the publishing process, is there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?

A novel is hard work for a writer! The grammar, dialogue style and keeping the story on focus are all very different to writing non-fiction. The character development must be spot-on and create ‘real’ believable people, the dialogue, especially if you use local accent or vocabulary must be just enough to create the atmosphere and sense of place and not so alien to the reader that he or she doesn’t have a clue what you mean! I’m Scottish, my son is English and because this book was set in Scotland he was ringing me up telling me to change some wording because he didn’t understand what I was saying!

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I’ve just moved house,  emptying boxes and trying to fit all the furniture from a seven bedroom house into a three bedroom house. The electrics have needed work, the garden is non-existent and I’m itching to get away from the boxes and out into the garden. I’ve a whole new orchard to plant and can’t wait to get started.

Gardening is so meaningful for me. It’s not just about making a pretty outdoor setting, it really helps me escape from problems and stress. If I need grounding, my garden is my go-to place.

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

Oh gosh, that’s a hard question. There are so many great books out there that I haven’t read yet and so many more will be written after I die! How to choose? I love Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. It’s a short book but makes me cry every time I read it. I’ve been so fortunate in life and this book sadly focusses on a very divided society. In a life where you can choose to be anything, being kind is our duty. This is the central message of the book, and very relevant nowadays; one which, every time I read it, I’m reminded that I could always do more.

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Writing is a journey; a chance to perfect skills I don’t have, to challenge myself about many things. The question I’ve never been asked is ‘How do you reach perfection in writing?’

I try my best, but my readers have always pointed out a grammar or spelling mistake, an omission or fact that I’ve perhaps gotten wrong. I’ve edited and republished one of my books (not telling which one) four times since the date of first publication, and I’m going to edit and republish it again in the next few months. I don’t see it as failure – sure; it’s annoying, but in this new digital age, I can take the lesson it offers and change it. I’m striving for perfection. For me that’s enough.

About the Book

When Ann-Marie Ross murders her abusive husband and feeds him to the pigs, she thinks she’s got away with murder and secured the future of her Scottish cider farm. But she soon finds herself having to keep more than one deadly secret to protect those closest to her.As four women embrace their new-found independence, Ann-Marie is tormented by the threat of discovery.A darkly comic tale of murder, friendship and love. If you like Midsummer Murders you’ll enjoy this!

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