Raised in the West, namely historic Sheridan, Wyo., where she remembers fawning over movie star and resident Robert Taylor, and later working for the U.S. Forest Service, FBI, Department of Justice and Sandia National Labs, 83-year-old Betty Turk has a lot more living planned.
And that includes her new passion: writing.
Of course, future books will have to be written faster than her debut novel, “Murder in Madrid,” which she began in the mid-1970s.
“Murder in Madrid,” with the subtitle “The Reality of Illusion,” began with her visit to the iconic town on NM 14 40-some years ago, when it really was nothing more than an abandoned mining town. Today, it’s a charming tourist stop on the Turquoise Trail.
“I fell in love with it,” Turk, a resident of Rio Rancho since 1990, recalled. “My father had been a miner.”
She did some “traipsing around the hills” near Madrid, where she found an old boot, and had the idea of photographing that boot on the step of an abandoned house in Madrid; that photo is on the cover of her book.
As you learn more about her adventure as an author, you hear how some of her life experiences, which included the 1948 death of her father in a mine elevator, are woven into this tale.
Another true-life incident, she said, was about “the first attorney I worked for. His wife was sort of a wacko; she decided she wanted to kill her husband – she put crushed glass in his meals. The doctor told him and he barely lived through it.”
Here’s “Murder in Madrid,” described on the back cover:
“For 72 years, Louise Devereaux has carried the grim story of an unfortunate woman who was erroneously hanged for a murder she didn’t commit. Who was the real murderer? Will Allen Kinglsey be able to find witnesses to verify Louise’s story? Will he be able to piece together enough evidence to bring justice for the long overdue crime? Why do the people of Madrid treat him with such disdain? Why do they look at his wife with such compassion?”
Answers to these questions, of course, are contained in the book’s 387 pages. As of this writing, she’d sold 21 books, and in April, had sold a dozen. She knows it’s “slow go” for authors in this day and age.
“I had visions of being (David) Baldacci,” she said, smiling. Baldacci is a best-selling American novelist.
As for that “Murder in Madrid,” there’ll be a sequel, Turk says, “Return to Madrid.”
“Dana and I have been kicking that round,” she said. “Allen and Beth go back to New Mexico or Wyoming, with a bunch of questions they would have back in Madrid.”
In fact, Turk and her son, 64-year-old Dana Turk, have a combined six books in the works.
Not all are works of fiction: One of Betty’s books deals with the life of her grandmother, who came to the U.S. from Serbia in 1900.
“Her husband returned to Serbia in 1914 and was killed in World War I,” she said, “as a member of the Serbian volunteer army.”
The works of these “young” Turks are on amazon.com.