Post-it notes! Hang on, that’s the middle of this letter. Sorry, writing The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has played merry hell with my sense of chronology. That’s what happens when you spend three years creating a time-travel, body-hopping murder-mystery novel, in which questions are answered before they’re asked, and your main character keeps bumping into himself.
In the spirit of Seven Deaths, I’m going to introduce myself after we’ve already met. My name’s Stuart Turton, and I’ll be your author today. I’m from Widnes, just outside Liverpool, and, fun fact, I sound exactly like one of the Beatles – Ringo Starr, in case you were wondering.
Goldsboro asked me to write you a quick note explaining the book, which I’m hugely proud to do because I’m hugely proud of it. This isn’t something I thought I’d be saying three years ago, when the walls of my house were covered in plot-organising post-it notes, and I’d spend my days muttering like a crazy person about impossible murders. Wait… post-it notes! This is where we came in, right? See what The Seven Deaths does to you?
I think it’s customary at this point to explain my inspiration, which would be cool if anything had ‘inspired’ Seven Deaths. Inspiration is a flash of lightning. This book arrived in my brain like flatpack furniture delivered by the world’s worst courier company. I was a freelance journalist, and bits and pieces of Seven Deaths would just turn up while I was interviewing some minor celebrity, or dodging Chinese policemen to research censorship in China. I’d greet the ideas with an ‘oh, that’s really cool’, then stack them in the corner of my brain and get on with my day.
Anyway, three years ago, I started going on about this “Agatha Christie mystery in a Groundhog Day loop, with a bit of Quantum Leap to it”. Honestly, I wouldn’t shut up, and I realised I would either have to write it, or my wife would push me in a river. So, I got writing.
It’s not been plain sailing. It’s a complicated book, but my goal was to make sure it was complicated for me, not the reader. I wanted people to fall into it and be swept away by the plot; to be wrongfooted and surprised, then rewarded. It’s a game – which is why we have the beautiful Cluedo-esque map at the beginning. The clues are there to be found. Anybody can solve it, and hopefully they’ll have fun trying. I wanted it to be broad and deep, so that anybody who decides to dig into the plot will find treasure. I want people reading until 2am. I want people to read it twice, and find things they missed the first time. Mostly, I just want it to be entertaining, because I genuinely believe the best books always are, no matter what they’re about.
And that’s it, really, except to praise the Goldsboro limited edition, which is genuinely the most beautiful edition of what’s already a very beautiful book. Believe me, my editor Alison nearly broke an entire art department getting everything right.
Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it. You’re the best part of being an author, and I’d love to hear from you. So, if you want to discuss the book (likes, dislikes, that weird bit on p76) I’m hanging around @stu_turton on twitter. Be prepared to discuss your favourite biscuit, though. I’m a Tim Tam man myself.