I Write From Experience
WE TALKED RECENTLY WITH BAHADIR YENIŞEHIRLIOĞLU, THE AUTHOR OF SUCH POPULAR PERIOD NOVELS AS “WHITE MASTER BLACK APPRENTICE”, “KERIME” AND “THE LAST HARVEST”, ABOUT HIS WRITING CAREER.
Q:How did you get started as a writer?
A:I trained as a lawyer and practiced that profession for years. I wanted to be a painter, but my mother said, there’s no going to Paris and cutting off your ear like Van Gogh, you’re going to be a lawyer, and so I did. But it brought me nothing. I argued countless criminal cases in the courtroom and found myself confronted with incidents that, if I’d heard them from somebody else, I would have say they couldn’t be. I would come home and sob wondering how such things could happen. You know how you sometimes want to reveal your whole life to a stranger? Well, maybe that’s the reason I started to write.
Q:You were confronted with the dark side of human life because of your profession. Does that feed your fiction?
A:Definitely. Even if I have not experienced them myself, I become involved in many incidents due to the cases I argue. They appear in front of me like a photograph when I write. The trauma of a fictional character I’ve invented is actually a real trauma that I have witnessed.
Q:We know that you love to travel and have seen many places around the world. How do your travels affect your novels?
A:I travel to better “understand” the human predicament. We read, for example, that the Prophet fled from Mecca to Medina. But reading and feeling are not the same thing. To understand, for example, how it feels to be a refugee, I went to Saudi Arabia and got in touch with a Saudi man of Uzbek origin. It was Ramadan and he gave me a place next to those working in the outhouses. I never rode in a car, I ate whatever was put in front of me, and I lived like that for 15 days. Only then did I feel how painful it is to be a refugee.
Q:Your third novel, “The Last Harvest”, is now on the shelves. Can you tell us a little about it?
A:“The Last Harvest” tells the story of the schizophrenic daughter of a merchant from Akhisar. When she returns to Akhisar after a long stay in a mental hospital, her family faces pressure to marry her off to preserve their status. The person they want her to marry is in love with someone else. But he goes through with the marriage because he is unable to oppose his family. To draw the reader further in to this dramatic story, I scattered some poetry through the descriptive passages. I wanted the reader to read those poems and imagine and feel them himself. I tried to distill a lot of emotions and convey their essence in poetic prose. It was a different sort of technique for me.
Q:Although your novels seem to be period novels, your characters are so real that they could live in any time. Could your novels actually be said to be “timeless”?
A:That’s a good way of putting it. And it’s actually want I want to do. My fictional characters may seem as if they live in a particular period, but when you embark on a journey into their spiritual worlds you see that they are timeless and don’t belong to any period at all. They are real from the standpoint of every period of time and you can put them into any time you want, in different costumes. They have words to say and they are real, because I live what I write. It’s like discovering humankind by starting with myself. It’s an adventure for me and I feel it in all my cells when I’m writing it. My characters take shape as the material embodiment of what I feel. You can find common points in that sense when you look at all three of my novels. I wander in the labyrinth of the entity called man and I draw my reader into that labyrinth. As my readers wander in those secret passageways they discover man.
Q:We know you are working on a fourth novel. Can you give us a clue?
A:In my fourth novel I try to redefine love in a story that takes place in 48 hours. Love is too powerful and universal an emotion to be sandwiched between two people, and in my novel I redefine love philosophically.