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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Social media-length bio
After realising he wanted to be an author and writing six novels, Drew Turney figured he'd get nowhere without credibility as a writer, so he became a freelance journalist. He's since had in excess of a million words published all over the world (see drewturney.com)
Short Bio (approx 50 words)
After realising he wanted to be an author at 13 and writing six novels including Falling, Drew Turney figured he'd get nowhere without credibility as a writer, so he became a freelance newspaper and magazine journalist. He's since had in excess of a million words published in print and online all over the world (see drewturney.com)
Medium bio (approx 100 words)
Falling author Drew Turney's first major work as an author was an epic, six-part science fiction saga that he started writing at 13. Five years later, he began the story that would become Falling. In the ensuing years he's written five further novels.
Figuring he'd get nowhere without credibility as a writer, he became a freelance newspaper and magazine journalist. He's since had in excess of a million words published in print and online all over the world (see drewturney.com)
Long bio (approx 250 words)
Falling author Drew Turney realised he wanted to be a storyteller when he laid down on his lounge room floor to write a short story on an A5 sheet of paper using his mother's manual typewriter, circa 1985.
That morphed into his first major work – an epic, six-part science fiction saga about a kid who goes into space to help fight in an intergalactic battle (yes, he realises how much that sounds like the premise of The Last Starfighter, which is one of his favourite movies).
In the ensuing years he's written a romance novel, an emotional courtroom drama, three fifths of a grand conspiracy thriller, a near-future military actioner, a social justice story about a student who stands up for his rights, a fictional depression memoir about a guy who goes to Africa to be an aid worker and countless more false starts and half finished projects.
After spending the first half of his working life in jobs completely unrelated to writing he figured he'd get nowhere without some professional backing or publishing credits, so in the late 90s he became a freelance newspaper and magazine journalist. He's since had in excess of a million words published in print and online all over the world (see drewturney.com)
He's a devoted filmgoer and entertainment reporter, writing about movies on his blog at filmism.net, and is a regular contributor for media as varied as film news site Moviehole.net, science periodical Cosmos Magazine and US movie industry trade publication Variety.
TRIVIA ABOUT ME AND FALLING
I started the first ever draft of Falling in the year 1991, which mean's it's been over 25 years in the making.
In the ensuing years I did three major rewrites because the date the Sydney Harbour Bridge originally collapses in the novel came and went.
I got the idea for Falling while I was crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and experienced the quite terrifying sensation of it moving beneath my feet.
I wrote, rewrote and cut so much out of Falling across subsequent drafts the final novel includes not only deleted scenes but pieces on how the story came about and evolved, the science of the paranormal depicted and more.
The style and tone of Falling can best be described as a gothic haunted house story with the scientific thrills of Michael Crichton.
Falling’s 2019 release isn’t the first time I’ve attempted to sell it online. I set up a website (which you can see here - be gentle) to sell the first finished draft back in 1998, before ebooks were even a thing.
PHOTOS AND IMAGES
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The dark, creeping horror of the classic haunted house story together with the incredible tools of near-future science to probe and measure the unimaginable.
The thoroughfares of a city are its cultural bloodstream, so when the chorus of 70,000 tons of metal and concrete rings out and an iconic bridge shudders, tears itself apart and crashes into the famous harbour it spans, it takes over 600 terrified commuters and tourists with it, becoming another bloodstained modern disaster destined to be long remembered.
Dale Milling is one of the lucky ones. 20 years after his catastrophic injuries, modern technology has given him a new lease on life – tentative and timid, but peaceful.
But when it's finally time to go back to the place he barely escaped with his life, it awakens a cyclone of terror and Dale's peace is shattered. Horrifying images prick at him, making him wonder if the fears he thought he'd put to rest really are behind him. Worse still, Dale's haunted dreams might only be the beginning as nightmarish visions start appearing to those around him.
An ever-more specialised roll call of doctors, scientists and investigators are called in. The phenomena defy explanation and the terror builds until it seems the unthinkable has happened.
The electromagnetic energy of thousands of terrified spirits has somehow become locked into the iron, the concrete and the very air. It becomes a vortex, a concentration of freak happenings that distort and manipulate space, time, matter... even people.
The dark force that emerges doesn't just seem to be aware and intelligent, it appears to have an unspeakable goal it can only reach by scaring you.
... and it knows what scares you.
A sweeping adventure of the paranormal in the technology age, Falling crawls with supernatural terror and explosive action. It's grand gothic horror set in the bright lights and bustle of a modern metropolis five minutes in the future, and it's a ghost story the likes of which you've never seen.
Where did the idea for Falling come from?
There's a passage in Part 1 of Falling, when hero Dale Milling is crossing the bridge on the footpath that runs down the eastern side, which goes like this;
A dozen or so steps later, the path shook – hard.
It was probably no more than a strong gust, but Dale's hand shot out to grab the rail in fright.
His heart lurched in his chest for a second. When you're only centimetres from a hundred and sixty foot drop, sudden movement can be scary.
It's completely autobiographical. When I worked in the building of a large Australian insurance firm in North Sydney, I'd have to catch a train across the Harbour Bridge to get to and from my home in the southern suburbs. Occasionally I'd cross the bridge on foot – a thoroughly lovely way to spend 20 or 30 minutes – and it was while watching the water below that the above happened.
In case you can't imagine, feeling the ground under your feet and a structure around you (weighing 70,000 tons) move suddenly when you're standing 50 metres above the water is disconcerting to say the least.
My next thought was; what would I do if this bridge started to fall apart with me standing out here in the middle of it?
And you really took more than 25 years to write it?
Well, I didn't spend decades hunched over a typewriter 20 hours a day chain smoking in a fedora like William S Burroughs or Alan Ginsberg or anything.
I started the first draft of Falling in 1991, wrote it over the course of a couple of years while holding down respectable day jobs (still had rent and food to pay for). I made a couple of attempts at sending it to publishers, but the market for commercial horror fiction of over 250,000 words for a first time author in Australia was – predictably – quite small.
Plenty of blog posts by agents, authors and publishers that I read were full of very practical-sounding advice about how if a project doesn't land, learn from it and move on.
In one way I did, writing a further five books to go with the six part sci-fi epic I'd started with. But something about Falling wouldn't let go of me. I rewrote it a few years later, then I rewrote it again a few years later.
When I decided to self publish it I entered a new period of intense activity on it the likes of which it hadn't seen since the first draft. It meant another very major rewrite, not just to adjust dates and update the technology (which had been sci-fi in 1991 but were by then commonplace), but to solve every narrative and mechanical problem I could, from improving the prose to strengthening character motivations and everything in between.
As before, I had to earn a legitimate living the whole time, so the whole process took a further several years.
Must have been quite a journey...
I lived in four towns and cities in three countries, it was transposed between and reworked on seven computers while I had nine jobs in five industries. I've probably written several million words total and it's probably taken up 18 to 24 months straight across 29 years of my life.
So yes, you could say that.
Is it horror or sci fi?
The structure, premise and narrative of Falling are very much a horror story. More specifically, I wanted it to be a very classic gothic ghost story, like the ones where an old mansion or castle is haunted by the spirits of the chambermaid murdered because she knew of the Lord of the Manor's financial misdealings, or the princess locked away in the tower to die alone, still waiting for her prince.
It can be said that it has science fiction elements, but while the technology of the time in the year 2037 will undoubtedly be different to ours, I never intended for the tools and gadgets of the day to be the focus of the story, they're just there because that's what I think the world will look like then.
Having said that, the technology plays a bit more of a role in the story than just being part of the set dressing. As Falling evolved I realised I was unwittingly influenced by (of all things) one of my most beloved movies, Ghostbusters. Despite being a comedy it was one of the first examples from pop culture that dealt with scientific investigation of the paranormal instead of being about spiritualists helping souls pass into the light.
While the elements we know from ghost stories and hauntings (apparitions, poltergeist phenomena, etc) are unexplained, that doesn't mean we can't explain them given the right expertise and tools. In Falling, it's an approach that's embodied in parapsychologist Tim Hacker.
Why publish it yourself?
The short answer – owing to the response I got the few times I tried – is that it's not something any of the major publishing houses want to publish.
But the longer answer is that book publishing (along with most written media like newspapers and magazines) is in a state of collapse. A few blockbuster names get the lion's share of attention and resources from publishers and fewer small titles get a look in.
The story of how one of Australia's biggest fiction authors, Matthew Reilly, became so successful is publishing industry lore. He wrote, designed and printed his own books and sold them to bookshops in the northern suburbs of his native Sydney. An editor from Pan Macmillan saw one, bought it, offered him a contract and the rest is history.
I resolved to do the same – never mind that printing a book in quantities needed to adequately distribute it would cost more money than I'd probably ever have spare. I figured I'd cross that bridge when I came to it.
Meanwhile Amazon, the iPad and ebooks happened. Those increasingly shut out of the big publishers had the means to go it alone. It's now a cliché that publishing your thoughts and releasing them to the world has never been easier – we've all got blogs, after all. The challenge now is to cut through the white noise, and when everyone has the ability to publish a book with a few mouse clicks, there's more for readers to choose from than even when the book publishers had the market to themselves.
Who were your inspirations or touchstones? To put it more bluntly, which author/s work might Falling remind me of?
There's a federal bylaw somewhere that if you want to be an author and you're the least bit interested in horror, you have to not only be a Stephen King fan, you must have an ambition to emulate his career. So he almost goes without saying.
Another writer I find myself thinking about/wanting to be as good as is the late Michael Crichton. He was the best example we had not just in books but popular culture of taking a cutting-edge scientific idea and making an entertaining yarn out of it.
You didn't always get every nuance of what Crichton was talking about and you knew he was much smarter than you about the ins and outs of cloning (Jurassic Park), miniaturisation (Micro), nanotechnology (Prey) extraterrestrial toxicology (The Andromeda Strain) or genetic engineering (Next).
But he knew how to present such topics to a lay audience, and he knew how to do so with the requisite thrills and drama that form the lifeblood of fiction. I can only hope I've made concepts like the human mind as an electromagnetic substrate, the transmutation of matter and the technological interface between organic and robotic matter make as much sense as Crichton would have.
As the New York Times once said about him; 'all the Crichton books depend to a certain extent on a little frisson of fear and suspense: that's what kept you turning the pages. But a deeper source of their appeal was the author's extravagant care in working out the clockwork mechanics of his experiments.'
In an imagined pitch meeting telling some investor or backer about Falling I might say 'it's a blend of gothic haunted house story and techno-thriller.'
Click to download a sample chapter of Falling (PDF).