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The setting for Turkish Affair is an archaeological site in central Turkey. My heroine, Anne, is a former American journalist who, after a scandalous affair with the wrong man, lost her job and her reputation. For the last ten years, she's been in hiding, living in backwoods Turkey, working as a translator. She's not interested in romance, an affair, or a partner: falling in love is just too painful. Besides, in any relationship, you have to reveal who you are - and that's something she'll never do.

My hero, Renaud Townsend is an archaeologist. He's passionate about his work, about ancient history, about discovery, and about keeping his independence. The last thing he's ever wanted is a permanent relationship. He knows that, after the first excitement and immediate desire, any love story becomes humdrum. Humdrum is what he's determined to avoid.

But how do you fight an instant attraction? What happens when caring slips into the picture and trust becomes important? Throw in some artifact theft, a difficult climate, corrupt police, a murder, an empty beige plain surrounded by dark mountains, and the story begins.


Let's meet J. Arlene Culiner:


NA: How did you come up with the idea for The Turkish Affair?
JAC: Many events in this book are true. Like my heroine, I worked as a translator and guide in backwoods Turkey. The story of the police demanding that archaeologists verify whether smuggled coins are fakes, is absolutely true: I accompanied the three archaeologists. Leyla, the very brave and rebellious young woman who rescues Anne from a dangerous situation on a back road, really does exist. She rescued me. And one day, while passing through an archaeological site in Turkey, I briefly caught sight of a lean and elegant man. As he headed toward a jumble of smashed pillars, the bright sun caught the golden blaze of his hair. He was the inspiration for Renaud Townsend, the hero of The Turkish Affair.


NA: What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
JAC: Of course I want my readers to enjoy the lovely, sometimes difficult, romance between Anne and Renaud, but I'm also taking them on an exotic journey to a little known part of the world - to backwoods Turkey - where, on an archaeological site, they'll experience the thrill of discovery as well as danger. In other words, I'm offering armchair travel with no airport hassle, no check-in lines, no bumpy plane ride. Only the pleasure of a good tale, and the chance to solve a mystery along with my hero and heroine.


NA: Do you have a day job? What was your job before you started writing full time?
JAC: I am a contemporary artist doing social-critical work, and a photographer (you can get an idea of what I do at: http://www.jill-culiner.com) I also, occasionally, get acting work. However, I have always written. I once wrote and broadcast stories on Radio France, and I have piles of unpublished (and pretty awful) manuscripts that I wrote over the years.


NA: What do your friends and family think about your being a writer?
JAC: Who knows? I suppose they are somewhat admiring, but only one friend actually reads my books because she's English. All my other friends are French and can't read what I write. Bernard, my partner, knows no English.


NA: Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?
JAC: I don't know. I never write outlines, and I think about each paragraph in a first draft for quite a while before actually writing it down. That's a slow way to work, I know, but building up an atmosphere, and writing beautiful sentences is important to me.


NA: What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
JAC: Winning the Tannenbaum Prize for Canadian Jewish History for my non-fiction work, Finding Home, and being short-listed for the 2005 ForeWord Magazine prize.


NA: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
JAC: I'm an amateur musician, and like many impassioned amateurs, I belong to two orchestras, two wind bands, and a chamber music group. I play the oboe, flute, piccolo, tuba, and all the instruments in the baroque oboe family.


NA: A pet peeve
JAC: Noise. People talking on their telephones in restaurants, on buses and trains.


NA: Why did you choose the shirt you have on?
JAC: I didn't choose it. I wear all my sweetie's castoffs. He hates frayed collars and cuffs. I love the baggy old things.


 

Turkish Affair

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