Today’s interview will explore the thoughts and work of Stevie Turner. Stevie is going to tell us about her new page-turner, A House Without Windows.
DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?
ST: The book is my suspense/thriller ‘A House Without Windows’.
DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?
ST: The book explains how the character, Beth, deals with 10 years of being held captive in a basement with her daughter.
DM: Who is your intended audience, and why should they read your book?
ST: My book is for adults who enjoy suspense with some added romance. They should read it because otherwise they are missing out on a book which has gained 49 positive reviews on Amazon.com, together with a New Apple Book Award and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award.
DM: How did you come up with the title?
ST: Beth’s daughter Amy thinks that the basement is their home, as she has never lived anywhere else.
DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
ST: I had the image for the cover in my mind, as one naked bulb is Beth and Amy’s only source of light. Libbie Grant designed the cover to my specifications.
DM: What are your biggest writing influences (another author, another book, a movie, etc.)?
ST: I would say the author Mark Edwards, who writes the kind of psychological thrillers which I like to read. I also enjoy women’s fiction by the likes of Gillian Flynn and Paula Harding.
DM: Who is your favorite character from your book, and why?
ST: My favorite character is Beth, who remains mentally strong in a situation some people would not be able to cope with at all. Years later when the past comes back to haunt her, she must face her old adversary and remain strong for the sake of her family.
DM: How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
ST: Of course it must be Edwin, Beth’s captor. His damaged childhood goes some way to explain his behaviour, but he is still somebody I’d cross the street to avoid!
DM: If you could change one thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
ST: The date it was published. I wish I’d seen a similar item of news years before that had first given me the idea to write the story. In that way it would not forever be compared to Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room’!
DM: Give us a fun fact or a few about your book.
ST: Besides winning the two awards mentioned previously, it has always been my best-selling book. It is now being translated into German.
DM: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
ST: The aforementioned ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue. Contrary to popular belief, I had never heard of this book until I self-published my own. They both deal with a mother and child being held captive, but my book also has a romantic element, and shows how that romance develops. I have also written about how Beth’s life plays out 30 years down the line…
DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
ST: No, just writing. It’s the only thing I can do!
DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?
ST: All my books are listed on my Amazon author page which you can access by clicking HERE.
DM: What can we expect from you in the future?
ST: I have just finished my 9th novel ‘Repent at Leisure’, and have sent it off to some agencies for reading on advice from an agent that I received at Foyles Bookstore’s Discovery Day. I also have a publisher interested in it. At the moment I am working on a collection of short stories.
DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
ST: The best thing they can do is write a review, and then share it on social media. Reviews are the lifeblood of the self-published author.
DM: Do you have any advice for writers trying to get published?
ST: Self-publish your book and work on getting reviews and building up your author platform. When enough people buy it and it rises in the rankings, agents will contact you.
DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue us?
Sure. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2:
My head is pounding, and a bright light above ensures I quickly have to close my eyes again. Feeling nauseated, I lie still, using my other senses to try and recognise sounds or a particular aroma which could confirm to me that I am still in the accommodation unit. However, I can hear nothing at all; not even the usual birdsong, and there is an unaccountably earthy, damp smell. Suddenly curious, I fight sickness and confusion to sit up and take note of my surroundings.
I have no idea where I am. I am lying on top of a double bed. It is not the bed where I wrap myself contentedly around Liam. There is a duvet beneath me covered with a surprisingly clean-looking lilac flowery cover, which is complete with matching sheets and pillow cases. There does not seem to be any other furniture. There are no windows, and the bare bulb above my head is the only source of light.
Slightly panicky now and ignoring the increased hammering in my brain, I stand up shakily on the cold, concrete floor. The room is quite small, and I reach the only visible door after taking just a few steps. It is not the sort of door that I could break down. I turn the handle, but it refuses to yield.
I am locked in. I want to scream in fright, but stop myself at the last moment from sliding into rampant hysteria. I reason that whoever is keeping me in the room against my will would not want me making too much noise which might alert searchers to my location. I figure that I need to keep on the right side of my captor.
I take a few paces past the bed to the other side, towards where the wall finishes, and I look around the corner. There is a toilet and one sink in a tiny bathroom which is devoid of both windows and doors. To the left of the sink I spot a rail containing a matching towel and flannel. In the middle of the taps lies a new bar of soap. There is an unused cup inside the sink, still in some sort of plastic wrapping.
My mouth is dry, and I realise I am terribly thirsty. I tear off the cup’s wrapping and fill it with water from the tap. The cold liquid is manna from heaven. I can even imagine the action of peristalsis, as the water trickles down my parched throat to my stomach. The nausea begins to recede, although my head is still sore.
I do not know what the time is or if it is still Wednesday 20th May. The dearth of windows ensures not only the absence of another escape route, but also reinforces the certainty that I have no knowledge as to whether it is day or night.
I run some hot water into the sink to wash my face. The water gurgles in the naked copper pipes running up the wall, making me wonder if the sound is going to alert anybody to the fact that I am awake.
I am correct. Within a few moments I can hear the sound of keys turning in the distance, heavy footsteps approaching, and then a bolt being pulled back on the door to my room and another key rattling in the lock.
I walk forward and face my captor. With dismay I see he is the drug addict I treated a few weeks previously, and the one who pulled up beside me in his car to ask for directions as I walked home. Was that yesterday? He looks around forty years of age; there are flecks of grey in his dark hair and beard, and he is carrying a tray piled high with sandwiches and fruit. Over his arm is draped a selection of underwear and clothes, which I presume are for me, as all I have are the clothes I am wearing. For several moments neither of us say anything. I look beyond him to the open door, judging as to whether I could dart past him and make a break for freedom. As though he could read my thoughts he closes the door and locks it from the inside, balancing the tray on one hand, and then comes over towards the bed.
I edge around the other side of the bed away from him. He places the tray and the clothes down upon the bed, and backs off towards the door. We stand there, silently sizing each other up like two prize-fighters. I ask him what day it is, but he does not reply. He then turns around and goes out, locking the door behind him.
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