Meet John Turney, author of Whiskey Sunrise

Posted by on Jan 16, 2015 | 15 comments

Meet John Turney, author of Whiskey Sunrise

My guest author for this week is John Turney, author of his Christian paranormal suspense, Whiskey Sunrise. I know you will enjoy getting to know him. Enter to win a copy with the Rafflecopter at the bottom! 


Fabulous Fridays


Welcome John, tell us something about yourself and how you started writing.

I’m a native-born Cincinnatian and went to college at Miami in Oxford. I’m married with three kids and one grandson. (Do you want to see pictures?) Oh, and two dogs. I did some writing in high school and college. However, I waited years before trying my hand at becoming an author. One night, I was reading a book and thought that I could do better. Little did I know the work involved to “do better.” It took a journey of nine years learning the craft of writing before my first novel was published. I attended many writer’s conferences and writing groups. I read writer’s magazines and books on writing. As a writer, we can never stop learning to improve our skills.



Whiskey Sunrise is your second book, where you get your ideas? 

Books start as a mere thought, an idea, a concept. My first book, Innocent Blood, started with interest in the Celtic world. My ancestral John Turney - Whiskey Sunrisebackground is mostly Irish. Then, while writing the original draft, I realized some of the events depicted would entail a police investigation. So that became an integral part of the story. With Whiskey Sunrise, I attended Write to Publish and came up with the idea during a fiction class taught by Rene Gutteridge. She had the class spend five minutes coming up with a story idea and a two line description. It took me up to the 4:30 mark before I hit upon the idea of a story where the alcoholic police chief wants to reconnect with his estranged wife just as his town of Whiskey, Arizona, faces the scourge of a drug cartel.



How do you “design” your characters?

Most of my characters come to me as pretty clear entities. I may not have all the details, but I will have a name, physical attributes, occupation, some historical background and some personality traits. Just like getting to know real, breathing people, getting to know the characters takes time.



Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?

Finding time to write—putting words on monitor—has always been a struggle for me. I’m an hour away from my paying job. For marital harmony, I seek to maintain a relationship with my wife. My best time to write is during my lunch break at work. My biggest obstacle in finding time to write is just finding time to write. At work, I will be interrupted by a work related request I need to fulfill. That cuts into writing time. My other time to write is in the evening after my wife goes to sleep.



How do you go about researching and creating a setting?

If I can, I go visit a particular place. Since Innocent Blood takes place in Cincinnati, I was able to go to the various settings in the book. Many of the places actually exist. The college is fictional, but its location is a real place. The graveyard behind the college is a real place. Whiskey Sunrise takes place in Arizona. Although I’m sure Arizona is a beautiful place, I’ve only been there once and that was many years ago. I did research on the internet especially Google Earth, read books that take place in Arizona and talked with people who live there or have visited extensively.

To create a setting, I try to include all the senses. Not only what a place looks like, but the smells, the sounds, if there are tastes and if there are physical sensations. Also places can have a personality, which you can develop just like you would a character. Is a forest a deep, dark mysterious realm full of threats? Or is a forest where one can go to and get away and relax from the toxicity of an overcrowded city and a dead end job?



Why did you choose the particular theme in your most recent novel? What were you trying to say to your readers?

In Whiskey Sunrise, the theme is about redemption. Rye Dawlsen seeks to reconnect with his wife who left him due to his drinking. He struggles with his habit, but knows that if he wants his wife, he’s going to make a life change. And he knows he has to do it before she will see him as a new person. I don’t like preachy stories, so I want to wrap the message in what I hope is a good story. But each reader will take away what they need.



What was the greatest problem/challenge you faced in writing this book?

The main problem that every writer has to deal with is learning the craft of writing. What makes a great story? Or a great poem? Or a great narrative? We who write should strive to reach our readers hearts, minds and souls. Words touch people in the gut. Look at the people who changed the world. Moses gave a nation a set of laws to follow for millennium. Jesus told stories that still intrigue us two thousand years later. Several Greek philosophers changed how the western world sees their world. Martin Luther started a movement with his bold statement. Thomas Paine, John Adams, Samuel Adams and others influenced the American Revolution with their words. So, the greatest challenge I face is to have that kind of impact on my readers.



Tell us about a moment when something one of your readers said or wrote gave you pause, inspired you to think about your work a different way, or made you change some element of your narrative. 

I was in the process of writing two books at the same time. And getting nowhere fast. My wife said to choose one and concentrate on that one. I asked her which one she thought I should work on and she told me her preference. I listened to her and because of her advice, I got book books done and published.



How do you see the importance of Christian fiction?

Christian fiction is very important to reveal the truth of God. This fiction may be in the form of short stories, novels and even movies. We need to engage the culture with meaningful and dramatic stories of God’s love, forgiveness, hope and peace. And yes, God’s judgment and hatred of sin. Plus, it needs to be done with an engaging story. Unfortunately, the church today wants to get all comfy with the world system. Hang out with sin and change our message so as not to make the lost feel about their sin. To reverse our downward spiral, we need well-crafted stories that range from subtle to in-your-face. Jesus used stories as did other rabbis from his time to call people to a deeper relationship with God. The Bible is full of narratives that bring God’s message through the lives of people.



Do you keep the readers involved when you’re writing the next book? How?

 This is something I’m learning how to do. Thanks to my new friend at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Meaghan Burnett, I’m learning this process.



Book Blurb: A body discovered just outside of Whiskey, Arizona, points to the work of an emerging drug cartel south of the border. When stolen artifacts from Whiskey’s Navajo Museum lead to more murdered victims. Chief of Police Rye Dawlsen fears there is more to the mysterious murders than just the drugs.



Please allow us to read the Prologue of Whisky Sunrise.

Locked in a car trunk, wrists and ankles bound with duct tape, Juan had no doubt this would be his final ride. Gritting his teeth, he pulled against the tape. His arms shook, and his shoulders and upper back burned. Sweat beaded his forehead. The tape refused to budge. Releasing his breath, Juan gave up.

He had tried screaming for help, but the duct tape across his mouth only permitted an elongated throaty grunt. Juan squeezed his eyes shut. The bump on the back of his head pounded in rhythmic harmony with the velocity of his heart.

Bile churned in his gut, and he gagged. Jesús y la Virgen Bendita, no. He relaxed, forcing deep breaths until the moment passed.

Hope faded like old blue jeans. He tried to swallow, but without spit, it was like drinking sand.

A metal bar dug into his side. Tire iron? A possible weapon, but it might as well be in Maine for all the good it would do him.

The numbing drone of tires on pavement toyed with his apprehension. From the outside sounds, Juan assumed they had left Phoenix. Probably headed into the desert.

The trunk reeked of oil, exhaust fumes, and the lingering stench of death. Juan wished the stench belonged to furry creatures and not people, but he doubted it. His captors only hunted humans. His captors? Hired gunmen, both of them. He’d seen their handiwork, bloodied victims lying in Mexican streets.

Not good. Stay calm.

During the afternoon, the temperatures soared into the hundred-and-teens, but night brought chilled air. His sweat-soured clothes stuck to his body, robbing him of warmth. He shivered. His own body odor mixed with fear like a Coke and rum. His watch dinged the hour. Midnight?

Time inched. The brake lights lit up his prison, and Juan perceived the car slowing down. The movement of the vehicle rocked him back and forth. Just enough to make his stiff body scream in agony.

After a few seconds of hearing pebbles pinging in the wheel wells and against the undercarriage, Juan figured they now traveled a gravel road.

He had to warn Rye, but how? Ten it occurred to him … the Sharpie marker in his shirt pocket. The one Rye made all his officers carry. If he could only reach it … He twisted, so his pocket brushed against the tire iron, then using its claws, forced the pen out of the pocket. It landed under him, so he rolled the other way, and his hands found it. After a brief struggle, he fumbled off the cap and wrote in between his fingers. Hands behind him, he could only hope for partial legibility.

By the jolting movements of the vehicle, Juan suspected his captors had turned onto a dirt trail. The car headed up a low grade and bounced like a three-legged horse. The brake lights came on, and the car slid to a stop.

Seconds later, two car doors opened, one after the other. Panic slithered into his psyche.

The doors slammed shut, sending vibrations through the car body. Footsteps approached on either side of the car.

Keys rattled and then were inserted into the lock of the truck.

The car trunk popped open. The desert night rushed in with the scent of creosote bush, cooling rocks, sand … and booze.


John TurneyAbout the author:

John Turney is a lifelong resident of Cincinnati, Ohio. He attends Liberty Heights Church with his wife. Their oldest son serves in the Air Force, while their youngest son attends college in Kentucky. As a writer, he has had several articles published in eZines and one in Splickety Magazine.


How can readers find you on the Internet?


Facebook Author Page:


Amazon Book Links:

Whiskey Sunrise –

Innocent Blood –
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. For anyone near the southwest Ohio area, there is a unique event in Hamilton, Ohio. They are having their bi-annual IceFest. This year there will be 80+ ice sculptures. In addition, Ryan’s Tavern is hosting their BookFest with lots of writers present to sell their titles. Ryan’s is at the Alexander Hamilton statue on High Street.

  2. This is a very interesting interview. Thanks for sharing your journey, John. Norma, you asked GREAT questions! I would love a chance to read Whiskey Sunrise 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting, Nan! It’s fun to find out about different authors!

    • Nan, thanks for reading the interview. I appreciate you stopping by to spend some time with us. I hope you will get the chance to read my book.

  3. Good interview, the book sounds interesting also. Perhaps I will get lucky and win a copy 🙂

    • Thanks for taking time to stop by and leave a comment! I hope you’ll be back again!

    • KC, thanks for taking the time to stop and visit. It’s very much appreciated.

  4. Sounds like a great book!

    • Very different from the books I normally feature! Thanks for commenting!

    • Marcy, I hope you get a chance to read it sometime. Thanks for stopping by.


    • Thanks for taking time to visit and comment!

  6. Witchy, I hope you get the chance to read my novel. Thanks for stopping by Gail’s website.

  7. John,
    I really enjoyed your interview. Your voice is really straightforward and I like that.
    I also like how you talked about using Christian fiction to engage culture. You should think about leading a Chrisitan-fiction movement. Seriously!
    It sounds like you don’t have much time, but based on what you’ve shared here, I think so many writers would benefit from your insight.

    • JR I would love to help Christian authors engage our culture as it rapidly skids downhill. If you get a chance, go see the movie War Room. A quality movie with a great message without being preachy.

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