Interviews by The Dark Phantom





Would you call yourself a born writer?

I don't think there's any such thing as a born writer. Like many people in the world, I started writing stories when I was very young; but most children write stories, and that doesn't mean they'll become professional writers. It's not the act of writing that counts, it's how you write, and how you use language, and those things require a long apprenticeship. I'm afraid, however, that children's imaginations are now being programmed by television, Internet, cell phone entertainment, and video games. I'm not certain they write stories anymore, or that they are able to write them using their own imagination.

What was your inspiration for The Turkish Affair?

Like the heroine of The Turkish Affair, I once worked in central Turkey, translating for tourists. The landscape was beautiful but bleak; the winters were Siberian, the summers, hot and heavy. It was a dangerous time, too, and I knew there were rules that had to be respected: the police were untrustworthy; there was political unrest; and there were frequent arrests. I spent much time on archaeological sites where I learnt about artifact theft; and, through rather strange circumstances, I witnessed what happened to political prisoners inside Turkish prisons.

When I decided I wanted to write a romantic mystery, I realized how perfect that Turkish setting would be: thus The Turkish Affair, was born. Although the books is a romance and an intrigue, the story is realistic. There's menace, but it's psychological; the murder happens off stage, without graphic description, car chases, or screaming sirens. The setting is exotic, but because this is an unstable part of the world, we can't feel too comfortable. And we can't count on the police either, for corruption is endemic here.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Around five years. The Turkish Affair went through many changes, and I do tend to work on several projects all at one time.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I'm disciplined some of the time, but not always. I can wake up and start working at five in the morning for a whole month, then suddenly lose the willpower to leave my warm bed. Sometimes I'll write all afternoon, sometimes I won't. That doesn't sound very disciplined, does it?

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Deciding on the clues that would solve the mystery, conjuring up the atmosphere of a bleak plain in Turkey, planting suspicion, having effective red herrings, and making sure my characters are well-rounded and true to life.

What do you love most about being an author?

Getting lost in my own imagination, working on all the drafts after the first (getting down the first draft is painful and hard), playing with characters. A work in progress takes over my own life during the time I work on it. It places me in another country, another world, and I also start thinking like the characters I'm writing about.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

My publisher for The Turkish Affair is The Wild Rose Press. I've published two other books with them, A Swan's Sweet Song, and, Felicity's Power, and I adore working with my editor, Eilidh MacKenzie. I've also published several romances with Fire Star Press. I've also worked with Club Lighthouse for the very unromantic mysteries I write under the name Jill Culiner.

I don't self-publish because I like knowing my books are good enough to be accepted by an official publisher. Also, I would never be any good at doing all the hard promotional and distribution work those who self-publish must contend with.


Turkish Affair

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