Today we're excited to chat with Behcet Kaya, author of Voice of Conscience.
FQ: The early life of the main character in Voice of Conscience, Ramzi Ozcomert Jr. closely mirrors your own. Did you base Ramzi on yourself?
In part. Yes, as far as the basic facts that Ramzi was born in a small village in eastern Turkey, travelled to England for school, and then came to America, the great land of opportunity. But no, as far as the actual events that shaped Ramzi’s life, they are all fictitious.
FQ: The descriptions of village life in Turkey are quite vivid and realistic. Are you describing your own childhood home? Was it hard to revisit that time in your life?
Yes, the descriptions are of my village and village life. In fact, (except for the name of the village) the introduction is not fiction, but is based on true archival information. No, it was not hard to revisit that time in my life, for it will always be a part of who I am.
FQ: Every character needs a difficult father-in-law and you certainly gave Ramzi one with A.W. Townsend! Was Mr. Townsend created in part to show the cultural differences, what a young Muslim man might have to deal with here in the States?
Not entirely. I created a very proud father who was overly protective of his daughter. I believe the father would have felt the same prejudices even if the prospective son-in-law had been European, or even American, for that matter. The point being, here was an unknown entity taking his daughter away. However, being a Turk and Muslim did exacerbate the situation. One important thing to remember, most westerners consider Turks to be in the same basket as the rest of the Muslim world. This assumption could not be farther from the truth. Here I can speak for myself and the majority of Turks that Turks are Turk first and Muslim second.
FQ: Throughout the story, there is a strong theme of family bonds. Is this something that you hold sacrosanct?
Yes, this is the culture into which I was born. Family is all consuming, family comes first, and family members will go to any length to protect their loved ones and protect their land. Land inherited from the father is sacred and sons will kill for it or be killed over it.
FQ: Ramzi is a very successful man, building an incredibly successful business, he has a great family, etc. How did that success play into the story of revenge? Would the story have played out differently if Ramzi was poor?
I don’t know if there would have been a story at all. Ramzi’s sole purpose in life was revenge and he believed the only way he could achieve this was through success and money. He knew that being wealthy would open the doors for the opportunity to settle his ultimate payback.
FQ: I see you're working on a sequel to Voice of Conscience. Would you tell us about it?
Yes, there will be a sequel to Voice of Conscience. This novel will follow Ramzi’s daughter Erin, as she searches for her roots and tries to find answers as to why her father followed the course he did. However, although I have quite a few chapters written, for the time being this novel has taken a back seat to another story that has been percolating in my head for the last nine months. I have begun work on this novel, and have written over one-third of the story.