It’s hard to pigeonhole author Pete Turner’s work in the novel Whisper a Scream. Is it horror, thriller or religious? Is it a detective yarn, an Appalachian literary endeavor or an action piece?
In reality, it’s a little bit of all that, but if Turner has to paint himself into a corner, he’d do so by describing his work as “Christian horror.” Or as he put it, it’s a horror story told from a Christian perspective, and he’s currently gearing up to promote the book’s sequel, Whisper from the Woods.
Pete Turner is a Hazard native and graduate of Hazard High School. He currently works for the Buckhorn Children’s Center and lives in the Buckhorn community, but his background is a bit more varied. He attended college in Oklahoma and earned a masters degree at Eastern Kentucky University. He’s been a writer since grade school and even performed in a Christian rock band for a time, and his life bears somewhat of a resemblance to his Whisper protagonist, Solomon Noche.
Solomon Noche isn’t your typical sleuth, if he can be defined as one at all. Firstly, he isn’t a detective, though he gets plenty of opportunities to solve mysteries. Secondly, he isn’t solving a bank robbery or jewelry store heist. Noche’s antagonists are much more sinister in the biblical sense of the word.
Noche first turns up in Whisper a Scream, the first outing of Turner’s genre-mashing literary debut.
Whisper a Scream was originally published in August 2010 under the Green Hat Publishing label. The story lingered there for a little less than a year before Turner noted that a writer friend of his on Facebook suggested sending the story, which delves into serious themes of reality and faith, to an editor for another look.
“She read the book and liked it really well, and felt like the story was really great and just needed a little work,” Turner explained.
That was ultimately a good move, Turner admitted, because it forced him to jump back into the story, correct some mistakes that made it into print, and actually add to the original narrative. He noted that he added an entire subplot that serves to tie the story together.
“I really re-wrote pretty much paragraph for paragraph,” he said, noting that while the book underwent a massive editing process, the initial story remains intact.
By February 2011, he had signed a two-book deal with Treasureline Publishing to revive Whisper A Scream and ultimately publish its sequel, Whisper from the Woods, which is due out on Friday, January 13. He is also currently working on the third book in the trilogy.
Since signing with Treasureline, Turner has been seeing some better success and response to his writing.
“The second version of the first book came out May 19 under Treasureline. It sold pretty well,” Turner noted. “And then by September or so, it really took off with some really good reviews on Amazon.”
By late October, Whisper A Scream was being ranked in the top of the pack on Amazon’s reader reviews in categories such as occult horror and religious fiction.
Tuner described the book’s newfound success as sort of the “second leg of a tour,” which is an apt analogy considering Turner’s past musical history.
Turner first found himself delving into writing in grade school, and has always been a fan of the horror genre. So when he began writing Solomon Noche’s story, “it just kind of became two books,” he said.
And while Turner is enjoying the renewed interest of his first book, he is more excited about the upcoming release of his second foray into publishing.
As Whisper a Scream deals with some of heavy themes of life and death and good and evil, its sequel will stick to those same sorts of themes, Turner notes, as Noche this time helps track down a serial killer.
Turner said he viewed a serial killer who performs child sacrifices as an interesting change for an antagonist based in Eastern Kentucky, especially for a small town like the fictional Retselville, which is loosely based on the Perry County community of Buckhorn and named for his father, Lester. ( Retsel is “Lester” spelled backwards.)
“I got kind of stuck on the idea of a serial killer in the mountains,” he said. “You would think people would know there is a serial killer in their hometown.”
While Turner says his books are firmly entrenched in the horror genre, there is also an intentional Christian message that she says is an effort to overcome some misinformation in what he referred to as the “secular media.”
“Hollywood in general, or secular media if you call it that, they have a lot of misinformation,” Turner said. “I believe that demons and angels are real. And a lot of people don’t want to believe in it. They tend to believe in God, but they don’t want to believe in the devil anymore, and I don’t know how you have good without evil.”
“It’s basically a horror novel,” he added. “Both of them are horror novels with a Christian message to it.”
Turner said he had originally hoped for a Halloween release for his second novel, but that date was eventually pushed back to the January date, which after checking a calendar and seeing what day it would fall upon, Turner admitted he then had no opposition to a Friday the 13th release date.
“I think … that would be the perfect time for a horror book to come out,” he remarked.
Turner added that he does plan to participate in local book signings upon his book’s upcoming release, but thus far no dates have been confirmed.
Whisper a Scream can currently be found online in print and in electronic form at amazon.com and other outlets, and locally at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on the campus of Hazard Community and Technical College. He added that Whisper from the Woods can also be found online upon its release.
Read more: Hazard Herald (KY) - Turner set for release of second book in ‘Whisper’ series