If anyone had asked me a few years ago whether having a Turkish background had an influence on my writing, I would have shrugged off the question. All of my stories up to that point had featured ‘regular’ people; they hardly had any background beyond the action (usually romance) of the story they found themselves in.
Perhaps it’s a case of absence making the heart grow fonder -- the longest stretch of time that’s passed without my visiting Turkey is four years. And when I look back now, I see a direct correlation between not going back for so long, and having the place -- sights and smells and history -- creep into my writing.
From the middle grade story that featured a boy and a cat travelling back in time to when Ephesus was a major port in the Roman Empire, to the historical romances I’m currently querying (both set in the Mediterranean countries, including the Ottoman Empire, at the end of the 15th Century), Turkish history -- and poetry, not to mention the food! - is seeping into every novel. I hope I’m writing the scenes in a way that does credit to my memories.
|view of Ephesus road, with hills in the background|
The oddest thing is the contrast between that world and the other, Northern, landscape that infuses my story ideas - all derived from having read Tolkien and Lewis at a young age. I've read, and reread, all the Inklings’ stories many times since then. I've always wanted to set a story in Wales, but somehow the ideas never came. Some elements I can weave in without a struggle - the boy who went to Ephesus is an English boy with a Welsh background.
|me on a lonely beach in North Wales|
This time though, I think it’s a case of over familiarity, like authors who do so much research they can’t help filling up every corner of the story with what they've studied. I've been reading the legends and stories and histories of the British Isles for so long that I hardly know where to begin with infusing them into my own stories.
Very recently, though, I've come close, with the first paranormal I've ever written: a Beauty and the Beast tale, about a thousand year old Druidic legend, uncovered during an archaeological dig at an ancient cavern somewhere in Britain. Hopefully this will lead to even more stories set in the North.
Then someday I might write about characters doing what I’ve always wanted to do -- take the ferry from Dover to Calais, and drive all across the continent to Istanbul.
Do your characters travel a lot? Where would you like to take them?