Monday, August 4, 2014

Interview with Author Behcet Kaya

Today we're talking with Behcet Kaya, author of Murder on the Naval Base

FQ: This book starts with an unexpected murder leaving the reader almost as confused as Anderson. Was this how you had planned to open this story from the beginning?

KAYA: Absolutely! My belief is that if I can’t get your attention in the first page or first chapter; you are not likely to continue to read the novel. It’s not always easy to capture the reader’s attention in the first page but, in this book, I think it worked very well. So much so that, because I shocked the reader with the murders happening in first page, and because the main character (Anderson) had motive, but no alibi, I decided in Part I to tell their story in flashbacks and everything that led up to the point where the murders took place.

FQ: Both Anderson and Bevin have similar goals in that they both want to overcome difficulties in their past. Did you always intend to make them so similar?

KAYA: I did, but Bevin and Anderson go in two completely different directions to reach their ultimate goals. Bevin is a smart, beautiful, ambitious girl; a gold digger who lets nothing stop her from reaching her goals. She hates her boarding school, the authority over her, and makes demands of herself to have a better life. “The outward happiness and the superior advantages of the young women around her gave Bevin inexpressible pangs of envy. ‘What airs that girl gives herself and all because she is the granddaughter of Warren Beauford!’ She wasn’t ashamed to make the remark out loud to one of her roommates.” {Murder on the Naval Base, Chapter 11, page 78}

On the other hand, Anderson accepts the misfortunes life has thrown at him and continually struggles to better himself. His one flaw is that he is so ashamed of his mother being a prostitute that he tells lies to perpetuate the position that he is from an honorable family.

FQ: Do you have a background with the Navy or any branch of military?

KAYA: No, I do not and I must add here that there are two reasons why I wrote this novel. First, I have had in mind to write a military novel for many years. I was influenced by the movie, Conduct Unbecoming, (produced in 1975), starring many famous British actors and the American actor, Stacy Keach. I wanted to make my protagonist a military person who had reached the highest standards of his career and then took his own life due to the fact that a hidden shame surfaced on the day he was awarded his highest merit. My other-half warned me that if I wrote another tragedy; my readers will type cast me a tragedy writer. My wife also kept urged me to write the sequel to Voice of Conscience, but I did not want to waste time before I was sure I could write something entirely different. I also chose the military because in my childhood I wanted to go to the military academy, but circumstances did not allow that to happen.

Second, my first novel received an award from Writers Digest, but my reviewers thought that the novel was my own biography. In reality, I did include the main character’s life choices very similar to my own, but the actual tragedy was fictional. In several interviews, including yours, I was asked questions such as, “Are your parents still alive?” (If you remember my first novel, “Voice of Conscience,” reviewed and interviewed by Feathered Quill.) After my debut novel, I began to believe that my readers thought that I could only write novels about what I knew personally. The voice on my shoulder shouted, “Okay, you can write a novel based on your life experiences, but can you write anything besides that?” I needed to know if I really was a writer and so I decided to write something totally not me.

FQ: What research did you have to do in regards to the Navy and its code of conduct shown in this story?

KAYA: Oh my God! Where do I start? I have read numerous biographies about famous military persons, such as John McCain, Eisenhower, Bogeys and Bandits, The Making of a Fighter Pilot, by Robert Gandt, Fearless, by Eric Blehm, Tennessee Patriot, by William P. Lawrence and Rosario Rausa, and many, many more. I am also a big fan of Brain Haig, whose military novels fascinate me and I have read just about every one of his books. I wish I could write like he does, but he has a military education. I have visited the Pensacola Naval Museum numerous times. In addition, I have been to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsfield Alabama, and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in DC. Also, in my younger years when I was in high school in London, I visited the Imperial War Museum countless times simply because I was fascinated with the aircraft the British flew. While in high school I also used to collect WWII war magazines and had a collection of sixteen volumes each containing sixteen magazines.

I believe that if you are a true writer you can write anything, but you have to do thorough research. And, you have to know how to search. This novel was my challenge and I wanted to know whether I could write a novel different from my debut novel. As I said, my wife helped research court martial procedures. With the research my wife and I did, over 2500 pages just on court martial procedures, I could have written a book just about that.

FQ: Military jets and flying techniques are mentioned frequently in this book, what research had to be done for that particular element?

KAYA: Here again, because I am a fighter plane junky, I bought “Jane’s Aircraft” magazines and read whenever I could get my hands on. I am fascinated by the FA-18 Hornets and Russian Migs. I read and read about aircraft simulators; it’s all on-line; even today’s fighter plane training is on-line. I bought several pilot training documentaries and watched them as well as documentaries about carriers and life onboard and researched how the British steam-catapulted takeoff and landing system leveling lights work.

FQ: There are many twists in this book, how do you decide when and how to reveal these twists when you are writing?

KAYA: A very good question. Although, this may seem off topic, I must first tell you that I am a mechanical engineer and I build prototype machines for production use. What that means is, I build machines which are used for just one particular function. First, I find the core idea of what that machine is to do, and then I build around it. This is exactly the same process I use to I write my novels. I know the beginning, the middle and the end; how I arrive at the complete story is my challenge. For example, I know the character of Anderson inside and out. Being brought up in a not very stable or honorable home he is fascinated by those who are noble, and then he meets McPhearson at Annapolis Naval Academy and finds out that McPhearson’s father is an admiral. It occured to me, why not make Anderson the admiral’s illegitimate son. Call it Karma, or cause and effect. That was one of the twists.

FQ: Having part two showcase the complete trial was intriguing for me to read, was it always intended to split this book into two parts?

KAYA: Yes, that was my intention. And, there seemed no other logical way to have the book progress. There are the murders, and then how do I resolve this? It just seemed natural to have the murders, the flashbacks, and then resolve the story through the court martial.

FQ: The character of Elizabeth was quite complex, where did the inspiration for her character come from?

KAYA: I have always enjoyed James Bond movies and I have often asked myself why his movies are so exciting? I believe it is because the antagonist is as smart as James Bond, and beyond that evil and ingenious. I wanted my murderer to be smart, cunning and beautiful. Elizabeth was the most colorful character for me to create. Although she does not appear that often in the book, she carries a powerful presence. I researched about psychopaths and sociopaths and learned the difference between the two. Both psychopaths and the sociopaths are basically the same when inflicting pain on their victims; they do not have empathy and enjoy their deeds. The difference is that sociopaths are sloppy and careless, leaving clues behind, and are generally caught very quickly. However, psychopaths are much more clever and secretive, therefore harder to catch.

To learn more about Murder on the Naval Base please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.