Douglas Turnbull has an extensive background in writing. His work has been printed in The Kingston Whig-Standard, Neighbour to Neighbour and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Douglas has also been recognized for several of his short stories, two of which were longlisted in the Kingston Literary Awards and another which took second place in the Scene of the Crime mystery contest.
Hi Douglas! Where in the world are you based?
I live in Kingston, Ontario Canada.
You have an extensive writing background. Can you tell us a bit more about your career?
I have been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, I suppose. I grew up in the small town of Napanee, Ontario Canada, population 5,000.
I saw my first published work in public school when a teacher had a piece I wrote printed in a newspaper. Seeing my words out there gave me such a huge thrill that writing became my lifelong pursuit.
Upon graduating high school, I took a script writing course since I’d always loved film and movies. Then, it was off to study copywriting as part of the Radio Broadcasting program at Loyalist College; this was followed by the two year Freelance and Creative Writing course at St. Lawrence College.
Shortly after my formal schooling, and after years of honing my writing skills, I started to pick up work in newspapers and various local publications. I ended up picking up review work mostly – movie, video, restaurant, music, and book. And while I was making money doing this, and building my portfolio, I kept plugging away on my creative writing.
Eventually I had a few shorts recognized in contests I’d entered. Both my short stories, ‘Seagulls’ and ‘Instincts’, were long listed in the Kingston Literary Awards in consecutive years. I won second place in The Scene of the Crime Short Story contest for my mystery story, ‘Mourning Suicide’ and won 1st place for my flash fiction, ‘Bunny Laundering’ which appeared in an issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. My story ‘Midge Life Crisis’ earned an honourable mention in Writer’s Journal. Most recently, ‘Eyes of Salvation’, a story that had been in my head for near a decade, saw print in Storystar’s Brightest Stars anthology.
How do you stay focused when juggling your short stories and work for clients?
It’s not always easy to stay focused when juggling work between your own short stories and clients. It requires discipline and patience at times.
I always prioritise my work. The client always comes first before I can concentrate on my own personal writing.
Do you like to mix up your working environment or do you have a favourite spot? Has this changed as a result of the pandemic?
While I work, I have various places I like to write - living room, bedroom, dining room, whatever feels right at the time.
Since the pandemic, not much has changed in my writing career. I’ve always kind of worked remotely. If anything, work has increased slightly.
Are there any notable benefits or challenges for freelancers in Canada?
It’s always hard to go freelance no matter where you live, I think. I feel extremely fortunate and very blessed that I’ve picked up as much work as I have.
What's your ideal way to spend a day off?
I don’t usually take too many days off from writing. But when I’m not in the middle of something, I love spending time reading, listening to music, watching movies, spending time with my girlfriend or taking long walks.
If you could back to when you first started writing, what advice would you give yourself?
If I could go back to when I first started writing I would tell myself that success won’t happen over night. An overnight success can, realistically, take years. Perseverance is a must, I find. All I can say with certainty is that it’s worth the journey.