Name: Tej Turner
Where are you from:
Now that is a question… I don’t really have a place I am ‘from’. I was born in Wolverhampton but my family moved away from there when I was a baby and I have no connection to the place. I have since lived in Sussex, Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Torquay, Carmarthen, and a couple of other areas. I have spent a bit of time travelling around Asia, too.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I studied Creative Writing at Trinity St Davids in Carmarthen – at both bachelor and masters levels – and when I finished I moved to Cardiff, where I still reside now. I am currently single and living in a shared house.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I have a new short story coming out soon in an anthology called Existence is Elsewhen. It will be the fifth time I have been published.
I am also working on a new novel which I will talk about in more detail later.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have been writing since I was a child, and before I could even write I was often making up stories. I have always had a very active imagination. One of the first Christmas presents I ever asked for was a typewriter.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess when I had my first short story published in Impossible Spaces. Before then I referred to myself as an ‘aspiring writer’.
That doesn’t mean I believe people who are yet to be published aren’t writers! It was more a case of what I was personally comfortable labelling myself at the time. It gave me something to aspire to, I guess.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The Janus Cycle was a bit of a strange novel in its conception. I wrote it completely by accident.
I started writing these short stories when I was at university… I eventually realised that they were all set in the same location – a surreal night-club called ‘Janus’– and even though each story was narrated by a different character, they were all connected to each other and kept appearing in each other’s stories.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I began to piece them together; fill in the missing gaps with more chapters, and turn it into the novel that it is today.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
For me style is a passive thing which should happen organically. I try not to think about it too much and let my writing shape itself.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Janus is the Roman god of doorways, transitions and new beginnings – which is an important theme in the novel. All of the narrators, in some way, undergo a personal journey which changes them.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes lots of them. Too many to list here without giving too much of the story away.
I guess one of the biggest messages of the novel is that everyone is unique and everyone has their own story to tell, and yet, at the same time, we are all connected, and our actions affect each other. I guess that is why each chapter is narrated by a different character. I wanted them to all have their own voice and purpose.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The Janus Cycle is set in an alternative present day – a distorted version of our own world. There are a lot of mysterious events, and magic is certainly in the air, but most of the fantasy elements are subtle.
My choice of basing it in present day also gave me a platform to explore some contemporary real-life issues.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
It is a semi-biographical novel, so lots of the things the characters go through during the stories are based on events which have occurred to me during my life.
I have discussed the biographical elements of The Janus Cycle before, when I wrote an article for the online magazine Upcoming4me as part of their ‘Story behind the Story’ series. You can read it, here.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I am not sure how to answer this question really… I am not a particularly impressionable person, so I don’t think there are any books which really changed my life in any dramatic sense. Although, to some extent, everything you read changes you a little, because you learn new things and see life through other people’s eyes.
Some of my favourite authors when I was growing up included; Jean M Auel, CS Lewis, Freda Warrington, Tamora Pierce, and Juliet Marillier.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Tapping the Dream Tree by Charles de Lint.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I mostly read epic fantasy. Most recently I have got into Brandon Sanderson, Peter V Brett, and Patrick Rothfuss.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am currently writing a sequel for The Janus Cycle. At the moment it is under the working title of ‘Dinnusos Rises’ but that is not set in stone so it may change. It is going well.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
University was where I really started to progress as a writer. I was never short of ideas – I had so many stories that I wanted to tell – but my actual skill at penning them down was a little bit rusty before I received some guidance and the chance to workshop with other students.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I don’t make quite enough money off it yet to call it that, but I would definitely say it was my passion. Or maybe even – and I do realise this probably sounds really pretentious, but what the hell – my ‘calling’.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No matter how many times I read something, I will always find an odd sentence or line that I want to change…
The moment you decide something is ready for submission is something which, as a writer, you have to be quite disciplined with. Sending things off too soon can be a grave mistake – one which I have made a few times before – but yet, also, you need to know when it is time to finally let go, or you will end up never submitting anything.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Probably reading. I lived in the countryside when I grew up and there wasn’t much to do so I read a lot of books.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Dinnusos Rises is going to be an indirect sequel. It won’t be necessary to have previously read The Janus Cycle to understand and enjoy it (although, it will probably be much more rewarding to read them in the correct order).
Of the eight characters who narrated The Janus Cycle, only three of them will be returning again as narrators (although most of the others will make an appearance at some point).
The rest of the narrators I have picked for the sequel, are mostly minor characters from the first book which I have decided to flesh out more and give them their own stories.
There is a strong bacchic theme, which is why I am calling it ‘Dinnusos Rises’.
It is also going to be much more rooted in the traditions of the urban fantasy genre. There is more magic, and many more mythical creatures than there was in The Janus Cycle (but still no vampires or werewolves!).
That is as much as I am willing to reveal for now…
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Jeanette Winterson. Mostly for the way she writes. A lot of her work is very surreal and non-linear – so sometimes you are not even completely sure what exactly is going on – but the rhythm of the writing – the way she composes words, sentences, and paragraphs – is so beautiful that you don’t mind. It is the sort of writing which blurs the distinction between prose and poetry.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I go to about two or three conventions a year. Usually FantasyCon and EasterCon. There is the odd book launch, too.
Fiona: Who designed the cover?
For The Janus cycle; Alison Buck, who is one of the founders of Elsewhen Press. She did a great job too!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
There wasn’t anything particularly difficult about writing The Janus Cycle. It seemed to just write itself, and because it was semi-biographical it was a very cathartic process for me.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That you spend more time redrafting and refining than you actually do writing the original draft!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Watership Down, I believe. Or maybe The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Probably my great-grandfather. He was a game-keeper and lived in the forest for most of his life. He sounded like a very interesting person.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“Merry ye meet, till merry ye part, till merry ye meet again.”
It is a neo-pagan farewell. Its authenticity has been questioned by historians, but I still think it is a very beautiful saying.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I like to travel. Read. I am fascinated by history, so I spend a lot of time reading books about ancient civilisations and mythology (and visiting old castles and temples, too).
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I watch a lot of anime and science fiction. Some of my favourite TV series include Battlestar Galactica, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Attack on Titan, and Sense8.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music?
I work as a chef to subsidise my income, so I am a bit of a foodie. I mostly love oriental, Italian, and Mexican. My favourite colour is green, and I have a very wide-ranging music taste, which includes metal, rock, folk, eighties goth, dream pop, and classical.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Probably become an astrophysicist. I was good at maths when I was at school and the universe fascinates me.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes, I do. It also features a travelblog from the time I spent backpacking around Asia. It can be found at:
Amazon author page: