Monday, July 8, 2019

Southern State of Mind in Writing

By  Jonna Turner

Being a southern writer, for me, is not about location. It’s a state of mind, an attitude, a state of heart. I grew up in Memphis and have lived in Colorado for the past twenty-seven years! Can’t believe it has been that long! To this day, my writing reflects my southern upbringing. Even when I set my novels in Denver, Seattle, or Victoria, BC, I know my beliefs and values and attitudes are evident.

I guess that’s what makes each author unique. We all want to convey a feeling, an attitude, maybe a truth about ourselves. In my writing, I generally want to entertain, scare a little, surprise, touch a heart, inspire, uplift, and make readers smile. And, I find that using southern manners and style generally reflect my southern heritage. Of course, my frequent use of ‘y’all’ probably is a dead giveaway!

I read once that if you write what you like, then you know at least one person will like your writing. Maybe that’s not the best advice for authors, but I’ve never forgotten it and think of it often, especially when I am stumped on which direction my character should go. I often think, What would a southern woman do in this situation? Again, I am showing my southern-ness!

Growing up, my favorite authors were Mary Higgins Clark and Phyllis A. Whitney. I found that my first books were mysteries with a style of writing I unknowingly adopted from years of reading their mysteries—of course, I added my own southern twist.

My advice to other authors: be yourself. Read books you enjoy by authors you like and respect. That will help you find your own style. Write what makes you happy. Let your southern-ness or western-ness or northern-ness shine through. That makes us who we are as authors.

Good luck and God bless.
Jonna Turner was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, but currently calls Colorado home. She attended Memphis State University, now University of Memphis, and ultimately graduated Summa Cum Laude from Regis University in Denver. She is the award-winning author of seven novels, radio scripts for Art Linkletter’s The ART of Positive Thinking, and feature articles for newspapers and magazines. Her books include mysteries, YA mysteries, and a collection of actual angel encounter stories. Her books are available on or can be ordered from any bookstore. For more information, contact Jonna on her Facebook page.

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