Why She’s Interesting: A low-key local literary powerhouse, Whalen Turner is best known for her fantasy series Queen’s Thief. The series began with The Thief, published in 1996, which tells the twisty-turny story of a young, mysterious thief named Gen. This year is the 25th anniversary of that first book and the finale of the six-book series, Return of the Thief, was published in October.
Read Well: Whalen Turner worked behind the scenes in the industry as a children’s book buyer before she began writing young adult books. “Children’s books are worthy of being read for your whole life, and worthy of having adult attention paid to them.”
Two for One: Whalen Turner was a late-blooming author. She wrote her first book in her late 20s, when she traveled to University of California San Diego with her husband, Mark, a renowned cognitive scientist, after he won a Guggenheim Fellowship. “I figured by the time I was 10, if I hadn’t written anything, I was probably not destined to be an author. So the Guggenheim went to my husband, and he wrote his book. But as a result of that Guggenheim, I also wrote my first collection of short stories, Instead of Three Wishes.”
New Worlds: One of Whalen Turner’s childhood literary heroes was English fantasy writer Rosemary Sutcliff, whose diverse characters, like the physically disabled Drem in Warrior Scarlet, inspired the Cleveland resident to fill the void of underrepresented perspectives. “That was the first time I really asked myself exactly who gets to be at the center of the story, especially who gets to be at the center of an adventure story.”
Final Chapter: Return of the Thief marks the end of the Queen’s Thief journey that’s spanned Whalen Turner’s entire career and much of her life. “Everything’s a little bit surreal. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since I published The Thief. It’s a little hard to believe that after all of this time, I have finished Return of the Thief.”
Interesting Fact: To celebrate writing her latest book, Return of the Thief, Turner bought a 2019 Honda Super Cub motorcycle.
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