Friday, October 08, 2010

Author Interview - Margaret Turley

Today I'm interviewing a friend of mine of many years, Margaret Turley, whose new book, Save the Child, is being launched on November 4. Margaret is based in the Phoenix area.

Tell us about the book launch for Save the Child. I hear it's quite an affair.
The launch for Save the Child will be at the Goodfellow Book Celebration on Thursday evening, November 4th, 2010, from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.  Our event will be held in the Wright House Reception Centre on 636 W. University Drive, Mesa, Arizona. I am one of eight authors who will have books in this event. We have joined together with our book producer, Dr. Pamela R. Goodfellow, to form the group "Writers Unite to Fight Cancer". We are holding a silent auction during our event to help raise money for the American Association for Cancer Research.

That's certainly a worthy cause! You're a nurse and a musician, Margaret. Why do you write?
I must. I am compelled to put my thoughts down in paper.

You've previously written several non-fiction titles. What genre is this book and who is your target audience?
I wrote Save the Child as a novel. I felt that I would reach a larger audience that way. I am aiming for parents, grandparents, lawmakers, attorneys in family and health law, and healthcare givers.

What inspired you to write this story?
In 2003 I heard about the Parker Jensen case in Utah. I felt great sympathy for the parents. I have followed that case and others since then, and started my project to write a book about parents' rights to choose their childrens' healthcare.

Tell us about your main characters.
Nancy and Robert Johnson are the parents of Sharon Johnson – an eight year old girl who is diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Nancy is vehemently opposed to chemotherapy because she considers it poison. Robert is a law student and asks his professor for help with their case when CPS comes in, removes custody of Sharon, and gives it to the state.

Oh, that's not nice. Who is the villain of your story?
The villain here is cancer, a vicious disease. The Johnsons are also opposed by the doctors and by the law.

How do you discover the characteristics of your characters?
I relied upon many of my own personal experiences and observations of parents of patients I’ve cared for over the years, who were in similar circumstances. I also interviewed several parents whose children have had cancer. I used the characteristics I observed and wove them into the characters in my book.

Do you write your book from beginning to end, or start with the end or in the middle?
I started writing my book from beginning to end. But I hit a major block, not being able to move forward when there were parts that needed to happen in the middle that I didn’t know how to orchestrate.

How did you get past that blockage?
After taking the "Crafting the Character-Based Novel" course from Dr. Pamela Goodfellow, I stopped trying to write in a linear plot-based fashion and instead focused on fleshing out characters and creating scenes as she taught us in what she calls her "scaffold process". When I did that, the story more or less took care of itself.

Interesting. I wonder if it's  similar to the Snowflake Method. Never mind that. After you finished Save the Child, how long did it take you to get it published?
I gave the manuscript files to my editor last year in August, so it has taken a little more than a year to publish it.

And now your project is completed. Good for you! Where can we purchase a copy of Save the Child?
You can order the book from or my website: Save the Child. 

Thank you for the interview, Margaret.
Thank you for allowing me to share Save the Child and Writers Unite to Fight Cancer with you today. I hope you and your family will remain healthy and cancer free.

I'm sure we all wish for that!


  1. Great interview, Marsha and Margaret! This does sound like a very compelling plot for a story.

  2. It truly is a great book to have. All parents need a copy regardless of cancer in their family. Cancer has touch every family in this and other places. We need to know what are options are and what is the law about our options.
    Anna del C. Dye
    Author of "The Silent Warrior Trilogy"

  3. Great interview! And sounds like a compelling book. ;)

  4. Dear Marsha:
    The Scaffold that Dr. Goodfellow teaches is a way to build a framework for each primary character in your story. She teaches you about first meeting scenes, orchestration scenes, conflict scenes, moment of recognition scenes and so on. It helps you flesh out your character and then you have a solid foundation to expand the story from.
    I have heard of the Snowflake method, but haven't tried it.
    Thank you for your posting about Save the Child.
    Margaret Turley

  5. Congratulations, Margaret. Your book espouses a worthy cause!

  6. Thanks, everyone, for visiting and reading my interview with Margaret. And Margaret, the Scaffold seems like a thorough grounding for the story.

  7. What a lovely interview, Marsha. And this book, Margaret sounds so interesting. There was a case here in Utah similar to the one you have set your story around--where a boy and his family refused treatment and the parents were charged for child endangerment and more.

    I'm going to be really interested to read your story because I think this problem that parents of an ailing child face needs to be brought to light.

    Thank you!


I welcome your comments.

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