Saturday, 9 September 2017

Debut Spotlight: Sherill Turner

This afternoon it's my pleasure to be shining the spotlight on actress/filmaker Sherrill Turner and her debut novel Him Downstairs which was published earlier this year.

Sherill Turner is a British actress and author and is based in New York. Her various part-time gigs helped to inspire Him Downstairs, her debut novel, which she wrote to make her friends laugh. Sherill is also a contributor to the newmoonwomen.org website – an online magazine to inspire and connect women. She is a big fan of tea, wine (interchangeable depending on the time of day) and stories that make her laugh, cry and celebrate the bizarre game of life.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey? 
Hi Sharon, 

Thanks for having me on your blog! I’m an actress and writer from Romford, Essex. I get itchy feet and have toured Germany, lived in Los Angeles and moved to New York last year – it  sounds a lot more glamorous than it is!

I always loved writing stories as a child. A lot of my school friends would groan at the obligatory “What I did on my holidays” assignment at the start of every new term, but I loved it! I was very lucky that play writing was part of my acting training. I write film scripts with a partner in the U.K. We just set up a production company called It’s a Funny Life Films and started making short films this year. It’s another lovely anchor to come home and see my family!

I wrote the first couple of drafts of Him Downstairs when I lived in Los Angeles. I was going through a quiet period of acting work and really wanted to get stuck into a big creative project. It was also a great excuse to drink tea and eat cake at an outdoor cafe!

If you had to give an elevator pitch for Him Downstairs what would it be? 
Him Downstairs is about the hilarity and heartbreak of navigating modern-day life and love.

Where did the inspiration for Him Downstairs come from?  
A lot of my friends were getting married in our late 20s/early 30s and a lot of my older brother’s friends were getting divorced. I thought that was interesting and wanted to write about the complications of dating if you’ve recently come out of a marriage, are juggling multiple mortgages and when there are small children involved. A dear friend of mine had a similar “upstairs/downstairs” living situation to Lucy and Tom, which influenced Him Downstairs and added an extra obstacle for Lucy’s healing.

Are any of the dating exploits in the book based on your own dating experience? 
Yes, with a few embellishments. The Single’s Night was particularly memorable and I have hid in a cleaning supplies cupboard in a hotel to avoid someone!

Describe Lucy in 3 words.
Work in progress.

What made you decide to self-publish? 
I did a rewrite at the start of this year and just felt inspired to release the book myself. I’m an indie filmmaker and have a “don’t wait for permission to create” mentality – even though it’s scary and lot of work!

What do you love most about writing?
Apart from wolfing down cake as “writing fuel”, I really love exploring how perfectly imperfect people are. We’re messy, make mistakes, have dark thoughts and good humour.

Did you treat yourself to something special to celebrate the publication of your book? 
I generally celebrate with food, so went for dinner! When I finished producing the audiobook, I had a massage – it was heaven!

Finally what can we expect from you next? 
It’s an exciting and busy few months ahead! We’re shooting another short film. It’s called Mumatar and is about a single mum who experiences empty nest syndrome when her only child leaves home, so reinvents herself as a vigilante superhero. I’m going to Maine to act in a new play called The Revolutionists next month and am really looking forward to that. 

Readers have been very kind about asking for a sequel or series for Him Downstairs and I’m going to put the kettle on, grab some cake and attempt a sequel for NANOWRIMO.

You can connect with Sherill at:

www.sherillturner.com/him-downstairs
Twitter: @SherillTurner23
Facebook: Him Downstairs novel/

How do you get over someone who lives under you?

Life for Lucy Jenkins is going OK … ish. Yes, she’s thirty-three, single, and has had to work as a waitress and children’s party entertainer since her social worker salary suffered from budget cuts, but she stays positive and manages to pay the mortgage on her flat. Her home is her sanctuary – until Tom moves in downstairs. Lucy and Tom quickly fall in love and into a serious relationship, which is complicated by Tom’s recent separation from his wife, who he has two young sons with.

Lucy is heartbroken when Tom breaks up with her, saying that something has to give in his busy life. Encouraged/coerced/badgered by her friends into getting ‘back on that horse’, Lucy finds herself at a tacky Singles Night; dating Danny, a Justin Timberlake impersonator; and attempting a rendezvous with her ‘special friend’. Lucy’s quest to move on from Tom would be a whole lot easier if she didn’t have to hear everything he does.

After all, how on earth do you get over someone when you can hear them peeing?

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