Skip to Content
Categories Chat

Q&A with Stuart Turton, Author of The Last Murder at the End of the World

Q&A with Stuart Turton, Author of The Last Murder at the End of the World

This post contains links to products that I may receive compensation from at no additional cost to you. View my Affiliate Disclosure page here.

Bestselling author Stuart Turton is back with a new novel: The Last Murder at the End of the World.

Stuart Turton is your friendly neighborhood author, responsible for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, The Devil and the Dark Water, and The Last Murder at the End of the World – which he describes as the ‘not a trilogy’ trilogy. His books have appeared on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestseller lists, and are known for fusing locked-room mysteries with literary fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.

Stuart’s books have been translated into forty languages and have sold over a million copies.

There are some impactful books that even years later, you can remember how you felt when you first read it. I loved The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. A truly original novel, definitely read it if you haven’t yet!

Stuart is back with another novel, The Last Murder at the End of the World, which is out now. This one takes the reader on an inventive murder mystery set on Island.

Get to know Stuart as he talks favorite novels, writing different genres, mapping out his stories and more!

What are some of your favorite novels?

I adore anything that plays with structure or upends a trope, so I absolutely love The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, almost anything by Terry Pratchett, and LA Confidential by James Ellroy. They’re all novels that never do the thing you expect. It’s not even that they zig when they should zag. You think they’re going to zig, then they turn into baby elephants and stampede right over you. There’s such joy in being confounded. I still think it’s something a book can do better than almost any other medium. 

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

I’m still not sure I do want to be an author. I find 90% of the job agonizing. I spend eight hours a day in front of a screen trying to drag a story out of my head. If I don’t write 2,500 words a day, then I need to write 5,000 the next and so on. It’s an agonizing treadmill, and I’m never sure that what I’ve written is any good until it comes out – at which point I panic about reviews, and sales. It’s endless. Honestly, if I had any other skills I’d be doing another job. 

What are some of the challenges of blending different genres into one story?

The biggest challenge for me is knowing when to stop. I want to honor every genre I’m working with, but there’s no way to write a complete murder mystery that’s also a complete sci-fi novel. Even if you could make it satisfying, the novel would be 700,000 words long. The trick is to write a really good murder mystery novel that’s playing dress up in other genres. Unfortunately, the only way to do that well is to know the genres you’re working with inside and out. You have to know every trope they fall back on, every beat, every character trait. Once you’ve got that, you can start discarding the things that aren’t of value to your story. 

What inspired you to write The Last Murder at the End of the World?

It’s hard this question, because my brain is a mad vortex of stupid ideas. There isn’t really any solitary inspiration. Things just bubble to the surface, then glob onto other things. So, for Last Murder, I knew I wanted an omniscient protagonist who could hear everybody’s thoughts, and I knew I wanted a cast of characters who couldn’t possible have committed the crime. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to write a murder mystery in which my suspects didn’t simply lack motive for murder, they also lacked the ability to do it. The cast of Last Murder are super nice. They’ve never fought, or argued. They don’t have secrets. They haven’t even heard of murder. I thought that would be a brilliant thing to try and plot. It also turned out it was super difficult. 

Do you have your endings mapped out ahead of time or is that something that evolves along your writing journey?

Yeah, I usually know where I want to end up. I often start with the murder. Who was the victim? The killer? And why did it go down the way it did? Once I have all of that, I work backwards to build characters around them. It takes me three months to plan each book, and when I’m done I usually have something that looks vaguely plot shaped. 

What are you currently reading and what’s on your (TBR) list? 

I’m currently reading Displeasure Island by Alice Bell, which is a supernatural comedy with a genuinely brilliant mystery. I’m having such a good time. Everything ever written by everybody is on my TBR. I’ll be honest, I’m starting to worry I may not finish it all.