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Meet Tej Turner

Every Friday, we meet a member of the BFS and peer deep into their soul (or, at least, a form they filled out). Want to be featured? Email us: online@britishfantasysociety.org

Name, including preferred pronouns:

Tej Turner, he/him

Which region are you based in?

Cardiff, Wales

If you write, which genre: 

Mostly Fantasy, but mine tends to be quite gritty with elements of horror. Two of my earlier novels also featured time travel (and therefore could be loosely considered sci-fi).

If you don’t write, what do you do?

In my spare time I like to read, hike, play board games, study history, and spend time with my friends. I also have a day job as a chef where I specialise in vegetarian cooking.

Are you drawn to any specific SFFH sub-genres?

I like them all, but most of my reading tends to be fantasy, whereas a lot of my watching is sci-fi.

Your influences

Tell us about the book/film/thing that got you into SFFH: What was it? How old were you? What impact did it have on you?

I am not sure if I can give one answer for this. It was my parents who got me into the fantasy genre. The first film I could remember falling in love with was Watership Down when I was around five years old, and after that they introduced me to the Narnia series. When I started visiting my local library and the first author I picked up was Tamora Pierce (with her Lioness series).

How does that early influence show up in your work now?

Despite my fiction being adult l think there is still some influence from the aforementioned. Watership Down is surprisingly gritty for a children’s film, and perhaps it was an early influence in ways to blend the beauty of life with the darkness. I think there is possibly some inspiration from Tamora Pierce too as my current epic fantasy series features lots of young characters who begin the story in a training environment together.

(Pictured: Watership Down, scarring children for life since 1978)

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

I believe a lot of inspiration happens unconsciously. Most authors start out as readers, and genres evolve quite so we are all certainly drawing from the things we have read before. I have noticed since meeting other fantasy authors that many of them were early table-top roleplayers, but I didn’t get into those sorts of games until later in life. I think something from my youth that certainly influenced the kind of fantasy I write is that I grew up watching a lot of 80s and 90s anime so my epic fantasy novels feature lots of mutants and shapeshifters.

Also of note to this question are my urban fantasy duology, The Janus Cycle and Dinnusos Rises. They are more in the vein of the likes of Charles de Lint and Emma Bull rather than what people now typically think of when they think of that subgenre, and they were also semibiographical. None of the main characters are completely me but a lot of the things that happen to them are based upon events from my childhood and teens. I started writing those novels when I was at university and it was a very cathartic process for me.

Who do you look to as a genre hero? Why?

Tanith Lee. I discovered her quite late in life but when I did I realised that she probably inspired a lot of authors who wrote a lot of the dark, dreamlike gothic fantasy that I liked to read (some of them have certainly been open about her being an inspiration to them). She wrote mesmerizingly, and the scope of her imagination was on another level. 

Your work

You’re stuck in an elevator for 60 seconds with that hero, and they want you to describe your work. Give us the pitch.

I write both epic and urban fantasy. They are two quite different subgenres but there are reoccurring themes in all my work. I tend to write novels that are gritty and bittersweet. My protagonists are often underdogs and the sort of people who don’t always get represented in such stores. I also tend to feature young characters that have experienced things that force them to be somewhat beyond their years. 

What are you working on right now?

I am a bit between projects at the moment as I have just returned from spending a year backpacking around Latin America. Just before I left I finished the first book of a brand new series under the title Children of the Gloom. It is a fantasy novel based on a world that is tidally locked to its sun and the people of the story live on the twilight belt where it is constantly dusk. It is the most ambitious thing I have ever written and required an extraordinary amount of worldbuilding.

Thinking about all the stories/work you’ve done, what sticks out most in your mind? Why?

I think the aforementioned The Janus Cycle. I am more known for my epic fantasy series now but this novel was my debut and – because of its biographical elements – writing it was an intensely cathartic journey for me, and completing it helped prepare me for my adult life. When I find out about people I know personally reading it I still get mixed – mostly positive – feelings because it feels like I have bared a part of my soul.

Where and when do you create/are you at your most creative?

I like to have my own workspace in my home. A quiet corner somewhere with a little desk and worldbuilding notes from whatever project I am working on at the time pinned to the wall. I do sometimes write in cafes but only if they are quiet.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?

Write and then re-write. I think one of the main differences between writing as a hobby and professionally is editing.

What’s your writing soundtrack?

I often listen to music whilst writing but it needs to be light and atmospheric and without vocals. Some of my favourites include Ludovico Einaudi, Hammock, Silent Island, Helios, and Black Hill.

The quickfire round

Sci-fi, fantasy or horror?

Fantasy.

Quiet or loud?

Quiet.

Dark or light?

Dark.

Strict lines or genre blend?

Blend.

Awards or bestseller?

Awards.

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction.

Poetry or prose?

Prose

Plotter or pantser?

Plotter

Reading or listening?

Reading.

Notebook or computer?

Computer.

Favourite SFFH book of all time?

The Clan of the Cave Bear.

Last book you read?

In Solitude’s Shadow by David Green.

Any SFFH author on auto-buy?

Peter V Brett.

Favourite podcast?

The Fall of Civilisations.

The home stretch

What’s the best thing about being a SFFH writer/agent/publisher/reader/fan?

You get to write the books you wanted to read when you were younger.

Time to plug your stuff! Where can we find you and your work? What have you got coming up? Consider this your advertising space.

I can be found on all major social media spaces as @tejturner, and my website is where one can find out more about me and my books (covers below). I have links to their reviews as well as information on the various places they can be bought. The latest, Blood War – the third instalment of my Avatars of Ruin series – will be released on 2 February (next week!).

My website also has a travel blog section. When I am not living in the UK it is usually because I have gone off on an adventure and I have spent four years backpacking around Asia and Latin America. Accounts of my adventures climbing mountains, trekking jungles and exploring old ruins are all catalogued and free for people to read (there are also lots of photos!).

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