Sheila Turnage Visits Bridgewater College

Newbery-Honor Winning Author Gives Lecture

Cassidy Wagoner, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va.- Sheila Turnage came to Bridgewater College on Feb. 3 offering inspiration to students to write and to create.

At both a special class session and in an endowed lecture, she spoke about her book’s plot and the characters it holds within. She gave clarity on some events that were based around the book. In “Three Times Lucky,” there are two main characters Mo and Dale, that it is based on. Their adventures consist of non-stop mystery with Mo and Dale attempting to be detectives to solve a murder that happened in Tueplo Landing, where they live. 

Turnage told the audience about how she came up with characters and the many aspects of the book that have something to do with her actual life. Tupelo Landing is where the book takes place, in North Carolina, where Turnage grew up and now lives.

She explained, “Me and Mo have a lot in common like we both live in North Carolina, have short-tempers, like mysteries, are lucky, and just want a place to fit in the world.” 

When writing this book, Turnage did not write it to be for middle grade children; she said she wanted it to be “southern literature.” Once she agreed to go with middle grade children for the target audience, she received an outpouring of feedback. Young people loved the book. The awards soon followed including the Newbery Honor, finalist for Best Mystery, Best Book in the South and E.B. White Read Aloud Book. 

Turnage did not go to school to be a writer, but she states that she “decided to become a writer in the first grade.” She explained how she once wrote a story in class and shared it with her teacher and her teacher responded, “that is a great story and you are an excellent writer.” From there on out, Sheila was free to study what she wanted and she knew writing was always going to be an option for her. 

She concluded each session with a question and answer session offering insight into her writing process and her life.

“It’s never too soon to get started, or too late,” said Turnage.