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James Houston Turner Poster

Biography

Jump to: Mini Bio (1)  | Trivia (23)  | Personal Quotes (4)

Mini Bio (1)

Winner of numerous awards, including "Best Thriller," bestselling author James Houston Turner is known for his Aleksandr Talanov series of spy novels. Talanov the fictional character was inspired by the actual KGB agent who once leaked word out of Moscow that James was on a KGB watchlist for his smuggling activities behind the old Iron Curtain. "His act of heroism - he could have been executed for what he did - gave me the idea of a good-guy KGB agent who became a spy for America," Turner explains.

A native of Baldwin, Kansas, James Houston Turner has been writing since he was ten. He attended high school in Kansas before graduating from Baker University with a bachelor's degree. He then moved to Texas, where he earned his master's degree from the University of Houston (Clear Lake).

After a move to San Diego, California, his love of writing turned into a profession with publication of The Spud Book: 101 Ways to Cook Potatoes. Publisher's Weekly called it "A cookbook with ap-peel." Between TV cooking tours, he worked as a journalist at the famed Los Angeles Union Rescue Mission, where he revised their magazine, Lifeline, from a needs-based ministry appeal to a collection of interviews from the streets about changed lives. Those interviews included numerous victims of human trafficking. The magazine won several awards.

During this time, James also worked as a smuggler into Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe, where he transported tons of food, clothing, Bibles, and medical supplies, to needy hospitals and churches. While there, he interviewed many heroes of death camps, gulags, Siberian exile, persecution, illness, hardship, and torture, including assassination squads.

James is also a cancer survivor after doctors in Australia removed a tumor the size of an orange from his face. "I was told if I lived eighteen months I would probably live to be one hundred. That was in 1991, so I am happy to report I am well on my way toward that goal. These experiences influenced my storytelling, whether in magazines, novels, or, now, in film. My stories are 'overcomer stories,' because that's what I've had to do, and is why I want my stories to leave people with the same hope and faith that strengthened me." After nearly twenty years in Australia, James and his wife, Wendy, now live in Austin, Texas.

More information can be found on his official Facebook page and his official James Houston Turner website.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: James Houston Turner

Trivia (23)

His grandfather, Fred Florance, whose mother was of Cherokee ancestry, worked with the Osage Nation in the early 1900s, before Oklahoma became a state. He was honored by them with the name, Wi-shjinke, which means both "Son of the Great Creator" and "Prankster".
Tried out for the Dallas Cowboys football team while in seminary at Southern Methodist University. He did not make the team, but was given a football on his last day of practice in admiration for his efforts. He still has the football.
Wrote his first book, a collection of short stories, at the age of ten.
Eats most meals at home with chopsticks. "Obviously, I break stride when it comes to soup.".
Was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Other Delt alumni include Matthew McConaughey, Marcus Luttrell, Drew Carey, Roger Mudd, John Denver, astronaut Scott Carpenter, Marlin Fitzwater, and Gene Washington.
Has eaten 7-12 apricot kernels per day for twenty-five years for cancer prevention.
After surviving cancer, now follows Hippocrates' sage advice about letting your food be your medicine and your medicine your food. Prefers high-fat, low-carb, gluten-free, GMO-free, grain-free organic foods.
Became stranded once in the Tatra Mountains of Southern Poland during a smuggling trip behind the old Iron Curtain. Was offered a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, but was told he would have to sing as part-payment for passage. "I sang every song I knew, but my singing soon became shouting because the driver said his horse was hard of hearing. When I stopped, the carriage stopped. I am still hoarse because of that horse.".
Distant cousins with celebrity chef, Tyler Florence.
On speaking tours, tells students how doctors opened up his face like a book, excised half of his jaw and a tumor the size of an orange, fashioned him a new jaw from hip bone, grafted skin from his left arm into the area where teeth used to be, vascularized his new jaw with blood vessels and arteries from both arms, then rebuilt his face using muscle from his right arm. "I feel like the Lego man: interchangeable parts.".
Lived nineteen years in Adelaide, Australia, gateway to the Outback and several world-class wine regions.
Got his first big writing break as "Spudman" after authoring The Spud Book: 101 Ways to Cook Potatoes. He first self-published the book, which was subsequently picked up and republished by St. Martin's Press (New York), after which he was hired as a visiting celebrity chef on a national promotional tour for French's Foods, where he cooked potatoes for TV hosts and their audiences, including Regis Philbin and Pat Boone. "I served a German potato custard that I had made to Regis and he said it was 'interesting.' I replied that he was supposed to say it was great. He replied, 'No, it's interesting.'".
Often says, "The one thing we learn from history is that we don't learn anything from history.".
Longtime friends with Walker Hanson and his wife, Diana.
His first professional writing assignment was in 1971 for the Dr Pepper soft drink company in Dallas, Texas, where he authored a promotional booklet, titled, "Ecology and You," and helped script a television commercial featuring the reigning Miss Teenage America, Colleen Fitzpatrick, and Dallas Cowboys football star, Calvin Hill. "One of my jobs, after being hired by Dr Pepper, was to escort Miss Teenage America to various promotional events," he says. "It was the proverbial case of, 'it's a tough job but someone has to do it.' I also became good friends with Calvin, because we both attended Perkins School of Theology. We would sometimes go out to restaurants to eat, and when fans approached to ask him if he was Calvin Hill, he would say, 'No, he is,' and point to me. He would then laugh and tell them he was kidding and sign autographs. Calvin was always great with his fans, but he was definitely a prankster.".
In lieu of breakfast, starts each day with a homemade Power Espresso: 1 Tb organic (grass-fed source) butter; 1 Tb coconut oil; 1 Tb MCT oil; 1 cup/250 ml espresso made with freshly-ground fair-trade organic espresso beans. Whiz in blender for 30 seconds. Wham/pow! Enjoy.
Earned his master's degree at the University of Houston, Clear Lake, where he was a member of its charter class of 1974.
His signature hero, former KGB colonel Aleksandr Talanov (from his Aleksandr Talanov series of spy novels) was inspired by the actual KGB agent who once leaked word out of Moscow that James was on a KGB watchlist for his smuggling activities behind the old Iron Curtain (cash, clothing, Bibles, food, medical supplies, coffee). "His act of heroism -- he could have been executed for what he did -- gave me the idea of a good-guy KGB agent who became a spy for America during the Cold War. Aleksandr Talanov is my tribute to the heroism of that man, whose real name I still do not know.".
Received his bachelor's degree from Baker University, in Baldwin City, Kansas.
His success with The Spud Book led to his being hired as a photojournalist at the famed Union Rescue Mission, in downtown Los Angeles, where dozens of his interviews with mission residents were published in their magazine, Lifeline, which went on to win several awards. "I was deeply moved by the tragic yet triumphant stories of several courageous women who had been victims of human trafficking. Many were on the run and had been living on the streets with their children. Their stories, shared with me at the Bethel Haven women's shelter, inspired me to eventually write my novel, Greco's Game, which I have dedicated to those courageous women, whose names I will never know but whose plights I will never forget.".
A direct descendant of Henry Clayton, who was a captain in the "Pennsylvania Flying Camp" of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War, and John Turner, who was a passenger on the Mayflower, in 1620.
James and his wife, Wendy, formulated their own Texas-style BBQ spice mix and named it the "Pitt Bull Dry Rub" in honor of Wendy's inspirational role in the creation of the story, Pitt Bull. The recipe for this barbecue dry spice blend can be found in Wendy's cookbook, The Recipe Gal Cookbook.
Is a Marine Corps dad, with his son, Jeremiah, having served twelve years in the United States Marine Corps, including two deployments to Iraq.

Personal Quotes (4)

Sometimes, the hard knocks of life are blessings in disguise.
A well-crafted story is an elegant puzzle.
Never bait your fish hook with a boot.
I will not be defined by the marks left on me by the world, but by the mark I leave on the world.

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