The setting for The Turkish Affair is an archaeological site in central Turkey. My heroine, Anne, is a former American journalist who, after a scandalous affair with the wrong man, lost her job and her reputation. For the last ten years, she’s been in hiding, living in backwoods Turkey, working as a translator. She’s not interested in romance, an affair, or a partner: falling in love is just too painful. Besides, in any relationship, you have to reveal who you are — and that’s something she’ll never do.

My hero, Renaud Townsend is an archaeologist. He’s passionate about his work, about ancient history, about discovery, and about keeping his independence. The last thing he’s ever wanted is a permanent relationship. He knows that, after the first excitement and immediate desire, any love story becomes humdrum. Humdrum is what he’s determined to avoid.

But how do you fight an instant attraction? What happens when caring slips into the picture and trust becomes important? Throw in some artifact theft, a difficult climate, corrupt police, a murder, an empty beige plain surrounded by dark mountains, and the story begins.

The blurb:

Love and Danger at the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu

Priceless artifacts are disappearing from the ancient Hittite site of Karakuyu in Turkey, and the site director has vanished. Called in to solve the mystery, archaeologist Renaud Townsend is hindered by both his inability to speak the language and the knowledge that the local police are corrupt. His attraction to translator Anne Pierson is immediate, although he is troubled by her refusal to talk about the past and her fear of public scandal. But when murder enters the picture, both Anne and Renaud realize that the risk of falling in love is not the only danger.

The Turkish Affair by Jill Culiner


A delicious breeze tickled the air, and the little boat rocked gently. A fine line appeared between his brows, and his blue eyes were, once again, serious. “I need your help.”

She stared. “My help? With what? Translating?”

“No. With something else. I have to find out who is behind the thefts at Karakuyu.”

The feeling of dread returned, but she forced herself to sound casual. “How could I possibly help you with that?”

“I don’t know.” He sighed. “I suppose I just don’t want to feel that I’m alone in this.”

What could she say to that? Tell him she was the last person he should team up with? That long ago, she’d escaped arrest by the skin of her teeth? If she did so, this splendid moment would be over. The silver-foil glimmer of romance would be tarnished forever. He’d row back to shore, drive back to Gülkale, get rid of her as quickly as possible.

“Anne?” He reached out to caress her bare arm. “Come back from wherever you are.”

“You know nothing about me,” she said jaggedly.

“Nothing,” he agreed.

She swallowed. “I could be involved in the thefts for all you know. Why ask for my help? Why choose me?”

He smiled faintly. “A good question. I suppose, quite simply, I need—or want—to trust you.”

She felt utterly miserable. Why was life always like this? Wanting someone and not being able to have them? Wanting trust, but seeing it snatched away before it came close?

“Okay, then.” His voice was surprisingly tender. “If I promise not to probe into secrets, do I have the right to ask one question?”

She nodded with resignation.

“Can I trust you?”

The answer to that was simple enough. “Yes. Of course you can.”

His returning smile was radiant. “Good.”

She stared helplessly at the strong, angular features highlighted by the merciless sun. “That’s crazy. You’re willing to take my word for it? I could be lying.”

He leaned forward, cupped her chin in his hand, and met her gaze evenly. “No way. Not with a face as expressive as yours.”


Let’s meet J. Arlene Culiner:

NA: How did you come up with the idea for The Turkish Affair?
JAC: Many events in this book are true. Like my heroine, I worked as a translator and guide in backwoods Turkey. The story of the police demanding that archaeologists verify whether smuggled coins are fakes, is absolutely true: I accompanied the three archaeologists. Leyla, the very brave and rebellious young woman who rescues Anne from a dangerous situation on a back road, really does exist. She rescued me. And one day, while passing through an archaeological site in Turkey, I briefly caught sight of a lean and elegant man. As he headed toward a jumble of smashed pillars, the bright sun caught the golden blaze of his hair. He was the inspiration for Renaud Townsend, the hero of The Turkish Affair.

NA: What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
JAC: Of course I want my readers to enjoy the lovely, sometimes difficult, romance between Anne and Renaud, but I’m also taking them on an exotic journey to a little known part of the world — to backwoods Turkey — where, on an archaeological site, they’ll experience the thrill of discovery as well as danger. In other words, I’m offering armchair travel with no airport hassle, no check-in lines, no bumpy plane ride. Only the pleasure of a good tale, and the chance to solve a mystery along with my hero and heroine.

NA: Do you have a day job? What was your job before you started writing full time?
JAC: I am a contemporary artist doing social-critical work, and a photographer (you can get an idea of what I do at: I also, occasionally, get acting work. However, I have always written. I once wrote and broadcast stories on Radio France, and I have piles of unpublished (and pretty awful) manuscripts that I wrote over the years.

NA: What do your friends and family think about your being a writer?
JAC: Who knows? I suppose they are somewhat admiring, but only one friend actually reads my books because she’s English. All my other friends are French and can’t read what I write. Bernard, my partner, knows no English.

NA: Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?
JAC: I don’t know. I never write outlines, and I think about each paragraph in a first draft for quite a while before actually writing it down. That’s a slow way to work, I know, but building up an atmosphere, and writing beautiful sentences is important to me.

NA: What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
JAC: Winning the Tannenbaum Prize for Canadian Jewish History for my non-fiction work, Finding Home, and being short-listed for the 2005 ForeWord Magazine prize.

NA: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
JAC: I’m an amateur musician, and like many impassioned amateurs, I belong to two orchestras, two wind bands, and a chamber music group. I play the oboe, flute, piccolo, tuba, and all the instruments in the baroque oboe family.

NA: A pet peeve
JAC: Noise. People talking on their telephones in restaurants, on buses and trains.

NA: Why did you choose the shirt you have on?
JAC: I didn’t choose it. I wear all my sweetie’s castoffs. He hates frayed collars and cuffs. I love the baggy old things.

NA: First thought when the alarm goes off in the in the morning?
JAC: No alarm, but I try to force myself to get out of bed at around six and write for two hours.

NA: What errand/chore do you despise the most?
JAC: All housework. We both avoid it like the plague, and the dust bunnies are quite vicious in our house.

NA: What are you working on now?
JAC: I’m working on a series of novellas that start in 1889 and go up to today. They all take place in a town in the Nevada desert, Blake’s Folly, which is the setting for two of my contemporary romances, All About Charming Alice, and, Desert Rose. But I’ll tell you about those another time…

NA: What is any question we didn’t ask that you would like to answer?
JAC: Good heavens, I can’t even think of one. But just in case anyone wants to know, I have four animals adopted from the local pound: two happy indoor cats (my garden is a bird, reptile, and butterfly refuge, so they aren’t allowed out) and two big silly dogs.


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