The Way of the Word

24. September 2010

Q&A With Jim Turner

A couple of days ago, I reviewed James M. Turner’s autobiographical novel Beyond the Comfort Zone.

For those who like e-books, the book is also available for the Kindle.

Jim took the time to answer a few questions about the book and the story behind the story.

1) What compelled you to write Comfort Zone?

I knew it was an interesting story involving important social issues and I didn’t want the events and things brought to light in the book to be just consigned to the memory banks. I’m not a great lover of quotes, but I will say this: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

I think that applies to the writing of the book. I’m aware that I have possibly put myself in jeopardy by writing the book, but you either stand and do something or you look away. I couldn’t do that.

2) It seems odd that, as a performing artist, you would choose to write a book about your experience, rather than try to turn it into a movie. Why did you make that choice?

A movie is a very different proposition from a book. It involves a lot of other people right from the start of the process. For myself I needed to feel confident that the story stood up as a narrative that would hold together for the course of a book. After that, making the leap to film is in some ways easier because the plot is mapped out and the book fits neatly into three acts I think. Going: Book, screenplay, film is a lot easier than trying to go in the opposite direction.

3) Will there be a movie, eventually?

I can’t guarantee that there will be a movie. But I am in talks at the moment with three prospective film makers. I would like to think a movie will see the light of day at some point. As anyone who’s read the book or knows me will testify – I don’t give up easily!

4) How authentic is your story? To which extent did you change real events (if you did)?

Some of the names are changed to keep the individuals concerned safe. The final timeline is condensed a little, but not much. Other than that the events rolled out just as they did in the narrative of the book.

5) You said that writing the book required two years and was emotionally very exhausting. How did you see it through?

Through gritted teeth! Application of disciplines I learnt as both an athlete and musician. Each word written is one step closer to the finish. Don’t procrastinate, stop whining, get on with it – that’s my mantra.

6) Have you been back to Thailand since then?

Yes I try to get back as often as possible, it still feels like my true home which is strange as it is so very different from where I was born. Home is where the heart is I suppose.

7) Are you still in touch with Franco, Nok and Jack? Where are they now? Do you know what became of Franco’s Contact?

Nok is married, happily I hope. Jack has moved on to fight battles elsewhere. The contact’s future was set out when he made the choice to cross that border. I feel sure that he is languishing in a Thai prison somehwhere, and I’m still not sure how I feel about that, though not having participated in the trial I don’t know for certain.

Franco? Franco has melted into the background somewhere. I was in fairly frequent contact with him until some months ago. His whereabouts are a mystery. I wish him safe passage wherever he is.

8) You’re still involved in the fight against this child trafficking, I gather? Although no longer so directly?

Well just having the book out for people to read is an involvement by increasing awareness. But, I guess you are refering to my establishing a fund to help both the unfortunate victims of not only trafficking but any child who needs a better start in life to overcome the cards that fate has dealt them. I’m hoping to either support existing establishments or, if the funding levels allow it, to create my own infrastructure. People can read about it at the link further down the page.

9) What’s next for you? Will you ever tell the tsunami story?

Next is my TV series and a couple of other films I’m involved with the production of. I’ve got another fermenting idea for a fictional thriller, but the Tsunami story? I don’t know. I’m not sure I can rake up that particular emotional adventure any time soon.

10) If anyone wants to help these children, what can they do? To whom can they turn?

Well, they can donate to my fund here if they specifically want to help children in South East Asia, or, of course there are many children focussed charities out there that offer a broad range of support for children in need. Two that spring to mind are ‘Children in Need’ and ‘Save the Children’


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