Debra here, (ready for a trip down south) and I'm really pleased to have Marilyn Turk visiting today! I'm _simply_ mad for historical suspense, and settings like this. Rather than blab on about it, I'll get to our discussion...
Marilyn, tell us about your new book!
Marilyn Turk: The Gilded Curse is set in 1942, and is about young heiress Alexandra Smithfield who is the last surviving member of her family, and her visit to the family’s prestigious vacation cottage at the Jekyll Island Club with plans to sell it. She hasn’t been to the island since she was a child because after her father’s hunting accident there ten years before, her mother believed the island was cursed. Alexandra (Lexie) knows now that her mother suffered from mental illness, but after some mysterious happenings on the island, Lexie wonders if there was any truth to her mother’s fears. Club superintendent Russell Thompson knows the truth about Lexie’s family, but he’s sworn to secrecy. However, Russell finds himself attracted to Lexie and wants to protect her from whoever is threatening her safety and help her find out why. In the process, the two of them must dispel the curse.
DM: I have to tell you, Marilyn, I am all over this plot like gulls on french fries. I overloaded my brain on Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart and Daphne DuMaurier in my formative years and my inner gothic heroine has a racing heart right now.
Have you always wanted to write a book?
MT: No, I never even considered it until I attended writers’ conferences. I had planned to just write devotions, or maybe some magazine articles, but not a whole book! So when I attended Blue Ridge CWC several years ago, I took Susan King’s course on writing devotions, which was a wonderful course! As a result of that conference, I had some devotions published in The Upper Room. I also pitched a story idea to Jesse Florea of Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine, and he liked it! That story was published also.
At Blue Ridge, it seemed like everyone was talking about a book they were writing and when they asked me about mine, I was stumped. Was I supposed to be writing a book? Then the genre question came up and I had no idea what that meant. But I had been doing some research about the history of my area and somehow the “What if” question came to mind and a story began to take root, which grew into a book.
DM: I write non-fiction for my job and it’s a whole ‘nuther beast, though not any easier.
MT: The Gilded Curse is my first novel. I’ve written two more that are part of series that’s not released yet. My first nonfiction book, (other than some anthologies I’ve been in) was a collection of devotions called Lighthouse Devotions, based on my blog, and it was released last November.
DM: Many writers will say they see stories all around them. How did you find The Gilded Curse?
MT: I find stories in history. I love discovering something that happened that I didn’t know about before and then wondering what it was like for the people living at that time. For this book, I actually discovered something while reading another book, Dan Walsh’s The Discovery, that made me go
|One of the lovely Jekyll Island homes that inspired Marilyn's fiction!|
DM: Tell me more about The Gilded Curse. Do you consider it romantic suspense, historical mystery, or how would you describe it?
MT: My editor said it’s “historical romantic suspense!” How’s that for a mouthful?
DM: Well, part of the reason I found your story so interesting is that I’ve been using that term for years for a series I wrote years ago. Yes, not exactly a known genre, but I’m seeing more and more of them now. Hurray!
What research did you do for your WWll setting? Did it include watching a few old movies?
MT: I read a lot about what happened on our coast during the early part of WWII, right after we entered the war. There was a lot of German U-boat activity and a lot of our ships were sunk before we wised up and started airplane surveillance of our shores. I read Coast Guard sites and googled the information. I also discovered on a visit to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse quite a bit of information about ships sunk during the war near there.
And yes, I YouTubed some old movies from that time to make sure the movies shown at the Club were contemporary with my time period. I asked my fellow writer Ace Collins for some suggestions because he’s an old movie buff and is very familiar with that era, having written about it himself.
DM: I’ve left my heart in the outer banks, but the closest I’ve been to your setting is Tybee Island. I do enjoy all the low-country fiction I find. How did you pick Jekyll Island?
MT: I was looking for a setting to write a Southern gothic story and happened to be on vacation in the area. The history and the historic buildings favored the type of setting I needed. The story didn’t quite turn out “dark” enough for gothic, but it has some of the elements.
DM: The two other stories you mentioned… are they the next two in a series with this same setting or set of characters? Or are they unrelated?
MT: No, they have totally different settings and characters, set during and after the Civil War, but still on the coast, but the coast of Florida.
DM: How did you enjoy the transition to fiction from writing non-fiction? What are the challenges of both for you?
MT: My nonfiction writing is usually true stories about real people. Writing fiction is not that much different except that you have the freedom to create the people and make the stories turn out the way you want them to. Of course, since my stories revolve around true historical events and settings, I don’t have to make up everything.
|From the lighthouse on St. Simons, Jekyll Island, GA appears both mysterious and inviting!|
DM: Would you like to write a contemporary series, or have you decided you enjoy historical settings?
MT: I’ve actually thought of a contemporary stories that are both suspense stories, but unrelated to any others I’ve done or each other. Not sure when I’ll write them, though..
DM: Where would you go on a vacation if it was all expenses paid, and you had a week to spend there as you liked?
MT: My husband and I honeymooned at Ambergris Caye in Belize, and I’d love to go back to the same place and maybe even do some writing while there!
DM: Thanks so much for visiting us at the Inkwell, Marilyn. I’ve popped your bio below along with your links. I wish you much success with this story and those to come!
|This is Moss Cottage, another 'cottage' for the wealthy!|
To purchase THE GILDED CURSE at Amazon. Paperback and Kindle versions available. (The kindle version is a steal right now at $1.99!)
Marilyn Turk has been published in Guideposts magazine, Guideposts books - A Joyful Heart and A Cup of Christmas Cheer, The Upper Room, Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Lighthouse Digest magazine. Her Coastal Lights Legacy series features stories set around lighthouses. Her book, Lighthouse Devotions was published in 2015. The Gilded Curse, published by Heritage Beacon, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, is her debut novel. Her weekly lighthouse blog can be found at www.pathwayheart.com. She lives in Florida with husband Chuck and enjoys boating, fishing, tennis, and gardening when she’s not climbing lighthouses or playing with her grandsons.