Meet Behcet Kaya

May 2, 2012 at 3:41 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , , )

Just last week, I read the debut novel of Behcet Kaya (who goes by Ben).  Voice of Conscience was beautiful, interesting, and made me extremely curious about its author.  (Read my Review here.)  Luckily, Ben agreed to an interview! Maybe I should have looked through his website a little more closely prior to the interview, because I definitely would have asked him about his acting experiences! This is him on

Many reviewers have referred to Voice of Conscience as a Shakespearean Tragedy.  Was that your intention?

Not at all. Although I have read Shakespeare extensively, the inspiration for Voice of Conscience was the 1958 movie “The Bravados” starring Gregory Peck, who seeks to avenge the murder of his wife and, in the process, nearly destroys himself.

You were born and raised in Turkey? So was Ramzi.  Did you want to write a biographical novel to celebrate your roots and experiences? Or was The Voice of Conscience merely an example of someone writing what they know?      

As a first time writer, I wanted to tell a story in a way that would remain in the reader’s mind, a story with the message that vengeance only destroys, and so I wrote the story and based the characters around what I was familiar with. Since most of my readers think this is my biography, I began having doubts as to whether I was a writer or not. In an attempt to find out whether I could write a story completely separate from any of my experiences, I spent two years doing in depth research and completed my second novel, Murder on the Naval Base in December of last year.

Both in your book and in your real life you’ve spent time at the Texas Pancake House in London.  As a proud member of the Lone Star State who has never been to England, I have to ask: What’s so Texas about it? Do you know if it is still there? And have you ever spent time in Texas?                     

The walls of the Texas Pancake house were filled with photographs of scenery of Texas, the booths were large and comfortable, and the portions served were Texas-size. The restaurant specialized in pancakes, and they were so large that most people could not eat more than two. Unfortunately no, it is no longer there. It is now a McDonalds. Yes, I have been to Texas, but only passing through, and I am still amazed with the vastness and beauty of the area, and the fact that it takes more than two days to drive across the entire state.

Other than what you’ve included in your novel what would you like your readers to know about your homeland?    

Where do I start? Turkey has 13,000 years of history.  Over the centuries, Constantinople, renamed Istanbul in 1923, has been the point where East meets West, the crossroads of many civilizations, and the capital of two grand empires. The Byzantine Empire lasted from the fourth century to the 15th century, when the Ottoman Empire took over, ruling through the end of World War I. Just to name one of our many treasures – in Istanbul, we have one of the greatest houses of worship in both the Christian and Muslim worlds: Hagia Sophia, the Great Church of Constantinople. Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the early 6th century on the grandest scale possible, it faces Jerusalem. It was later converted into a mosque by the conquering Ottomans and today it’s a museum. Beyond Istanbul, there is Izmir, Konya, Cappadocia, and so many more areas with historical and cultural significance. Our history is rich; the diversity of our landscape is immense; from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, from Istanbul to the Georgian border. Although Turkey is 90% Muslim, we are NOT an Arab country. Modern Turkey was born in 1923 from the ashes of the old Ottoman Empire and we are proud to be a secular democracy. Our people are friendly and welcoming to more than 31 million tourists a year.

I’m a big foodie and enjoy celebrating good books with a good meal.  What’s your favorite Turkish dish?

I have several favorites, all of which are traditional Turkish dishes, including kuru fasulya (white beans with meat), shiskabab with rice pilaf, and siron (very thin bread topped with yogurt, garlic and melted butter).

From what I understand, you’ve been living in the U.S. for years now, after spending time in England.  What are your favorite things about the three countries you’ve called home? What made you choose the U.S. for now?    

I am proud to say my roots and culture are Turkish, my education and love of learning comes from my schooling in England, and the U.S. is where I feel at home.

Who are your favorite authors? What genre do you prefer to read? Which do you consider your major influence?   

My favorite authors are Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Yashar Kemal, and I prefer to read classic literature. Being a Turk, I would have to say Yashar Kemal is my major influence. However, in writing my second novel, Murder on the Naval Base, I did extensive research by reading biographies of prominent naval heroes, and many fiction as well as non-fiction novels about the navy.

How did you come to be published by AuthorHouse? In your future ventures in the publishing world, what would you do differently?

Frustrated at not being able to enlist the help of an agent, I decided to self-publish and AuthorHouse was recommended. I would prefer, in the future, to be represented by a literary agent, and published by one of the major publishing houses.

You’ve written two books in addition to The Voice of Conscience.  Can you tell us a bit about them?

My second book is Murder on the Naval Base, a murder-mystery about a young navy lieutenant falsely accused of the murder of his wife and former best friend. It is currently in publication in e-book form and available for Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader and Apple. My third book, Erin’s Story is still in progress, and it is the sequel to Voice of Conscience. Ramzi’s daughter, Erin, returns to Turkey on a mission of self-discovery, and in the process finds mystery, intrigue, and love.

How would you feel about having your books made into movies?      

Thrilled!! I can see Voice of Conscience being made into a three-part movie (movie of the week perhaps?) and preferably produced by the BBC. Murder on the Naval Base, according to Pacific Book Review, “is easily adaptable for a screenplay and an excellent choice for a Hollywood blockbuster.”

For more information on Voice of Conscience, Murder on the Naval Base, Erin’s Story, or Behcet Kaya himself, check out his site:

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Voice of Conscience by Behcet Kaya – A Review

April 28, 2012 at 10:10 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Title: Voice of Consceince

Author: Behcet Kaya

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Length: 414 pgs.

Described by multiple reviewers as a Shakespearean Tragedy, Kaya’s debut novel Voice of Conscience is a little bit Kite Runner and a little bit Bourne Identity, but still something all its own.

Best read in three days (because of its three parts set in Turkey, London, then California), Voice of Conscience follows the life of Ramzi Ozcomert Jr., from his childhood in Turkey and a culture of vengeance and family tradition – to love, marriage, and finally the return to his roots.  In the spirit of Khaled Housseini (author of Kite Runner) and Manil Suri (author of The Death of Vishnu), Kaya dives into his own culture and gives us social commentary of a country often overlooked in literature.  Addressing deep issues of the human condition througout love, loss, revenge, and guilt from the perspective of a Turkish author, I found the book rather enlightening and educational.

Prior to Kaya’s novel, the only books I had ever read involving Turkey were Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginedes (entire portions of the novel dedicated to the relationship between the Greeks and the Turks) and vampire hunting novels that often use Istanbul as a pitt stop within plot developments.  I’ve encountered Orhan Pamuk over and over again, having worked in a bookstore running the literature section for years, but I never actually picked up any of his work, despite their accolades.

I read Part One set in Atamkoy, Turkey in 1962 curled up in my library with a cup of coffee, thinking this little tragedy was going to be more of a depressing, cozy read.  Turns out, through Parts Two and Three, I had migrated to my Gazelle where I can work out and read simultaneously due to its low impact and breezy routine.  I’m a mood reader, and the more the story progressed, the more Ramzi got closer and closer to going all mercenary ninja on his enemies, which gave me the desire to be on the move.  By the time the book ended, in tradition of a perfect story arch, I was back in a cozy chair with my coffee and a beagle on my feet.

Overall, I appreciate Kaya’s novel and how much of himself he has poured into it.  Its an excellent first novel, and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.  My only complaint is in some of the dialogue which occasionally seems to fall a bit flat and is often times too lengthy. (This coming from a girl who talks incessantly and tends to write how she speaks… could be the pot calling the kettle black!)  But all in all, well done!

Additional articles to read:–turkish-literature–say-publishers.html

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