The Turkish Affair #contemporary romantic #suspense @JArleneCuliner #RLFblog

The Turkish Affair by J. Arlene Culiner.

Born in New York, raised in Toronto, J. Arlene Culiner has spent most of her life in England, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to public dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She works as an actress, a photographer, a contemporary artist, a musician, writes mysteries, history books and perfectly believable romances. Her heroines are funny and gutsy; her heroes, dashingly lovable; and all are (proudly) over the age of forty.

Why did you write this book?

I know that many readers expect a romantic suspense to resemble what they see on television: danger, stalkers, a serial killers or two, violence, car chases, shoot outs and terror. But I dislike television, and I’ve always preferred realistic stories, even in the romance genre. It seems to me that if I were being threatened by a madman, I’d be so wrought up, I wouldn’t have time to fall in love — and for me that means, getting to know the other person, finding common interests, feeling those first gentle feelings of soft magic. None of that is possible in dangerous situations; and besides, in real life, there’s very rarely, a gorgeous, sexy interested secret agent on hand ready to rescue you.

I did however, want to write a love story as well as a suspense, and I came up with The Turkish Affair, a mystery where there is certainly menace, but it’s more psychological. Yes, there has been a murder, but it’s off stage : no description, no chases, no screaming sirens. I wanted a strong-willed but warm and brave heroine, a gorgeous hero who is both intelligent and tender. I also wanted an exotic setting — the archaeological site of Karakuyu in central Turkey, once home to the long-vanished Hittites. I added true stories as well, and real places, and a few strange characters I met while living in Turkey.

What is your favorite genre to read?

I read everything, switching back and forth constantly: contemporary romance, biography, mysteries, mainstream literature, history — particularly that of eastern Europe — classics. Every book has its right moment.

Who is your favorite character from fiction (not including your own)?

Saul Bellow’s Moses E. Herzog? Stella Gibbons’ Flora Post? Salinger’s Holden Caulfield? No, there are far too many others. Impossible to choose one. And besides, all great characters have terrible flaws.

What are you working on at the moment, and will see from you in coming months?

I’m presently working on 1) a creative non-fiction work about a small village in eastern Hungary, 2) a contemporary romance that takes place in Blake’s Folly, the same Nevada community I used in my previous romance, All About Charming Alice, and 3) a series of portraits.

All three projects are so different from each other, I’ll have to wait and see which one pulls the strongest. They’ll all get finished eventually, I think, but none will be completed in the coming months. I need years to write a book, perfect the story and refine the language.

Please tell us about your latest book.

A top notch Washington journalist before a liaison with the wrong man implicated her in scandal, Anne Pierson has been hiding in backwoods Turkey and working as a translator. She’s determined to keep her past a secret, to avoid personal relationships. But after meeting Renaud Townsend, her discrete little world is turned upside down.

Archaeologist Renaud Townsend is troubled by Anne Pierson’s refusal to talk about her past, but instinct tells him he can rely on her. Or is it only desire speaking? A lusty love affair for the duration of the summer dig is a very appealing idea.

When Anne’s bad reputation links her to stolen artefacts and murder, the budding romance with Renaud comes to a halt. If they learn to trust one another, her name can be cleared. But is there still enough intensity to give love a second chance?

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