Somer was born in Ankara but moved to Istanbul in 1982, after graduating from technical university, and worked as an engineer for Sony, an experience he calls upon in his writing. "I don't call upon the muses," he states, "I write more with my logic - my engineering side." He went on to become a manager for Citibank and he also calls upon this experience in his writing. "When I'm writing a novel, " he says, "I think about the speed, make the necessary calculations for which character should be seen when, and balance the harsh scenes with silent scenes." Somer has been a management consultant, conducting corporate seminars on management skills and personal development since 1994 and took up writing in 2001 following health problems that forced him into semi-retirement. "I had two open-heart operations: 1995 and 1996," he says, "I have been on the verge of life."
Concerning his personal life, Somer has stated that, "When the [Hop-Çiki-Yaya] books were first published in Turkey, some of my friends thought that I was a drag queen or transgender. In fact I'm not - sorry to disappoint."
Somer was inspired to write detective fiction by the novels of his youth, "We don't have a tradition of literature at all. At all. The Ottoman culture doesn't include stories and novels in the tradition of western literature. The first Turkish novel was published only 150 years ago. In Turkey, books are not sold well. We don't have a huge audience. But in the 60s, there were many crime novels. We even had some Mike Hammers." Somer however has an alternate take on the genre, "Lots of the crime novels I encounter are grim, horrifying, brutal," he says. "I don't want to see much blood. I don't want to see harsh feelings. I like light things like champagne or bubblegum. I wanted to write something with joy, that readers could enjoy. Even with the darkest things that I write, I wanted to give them lightness - so the books have brilliant colours."
Regarding his influences, Somer states, "Honoré de Balzac is my all time favourite. With his novels he creates a complete panoramic picture of France in his time. A major character from one of his books might have a cameo appearance in another. I like this. Patricia Highsmith, especially her Ripleys and Those Who Walk Away, I've read and will read over and over. Naturally Orhan Pamuk! Besides his My Name is Red being one of my favourite books, I believe the Nobel prize Orhan Pamuk won, opened the international door for Turkish writers, including me. Truman Capote, Christopher Isherwood, Ingrid Nöll... Many more!"
He wrote the first three novels of the Hop-Çiki-Yaya series back-to-back but had trouble finding a publisher as, "The Salman Rushdie story was still relatively young and they didn't want to risk anything." İletişim Yayınları finally agreed to publish the series starting with the second volume The Prophet Murders and Somer credits the stamp of approval from the prestigious company (previously responsible for publishing Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red) with protecting the books from a hostile reception.
How can you resist a book that features a main character of which London’s Daily Telegraph said: “It’s Istanbul’s Miss Marple—although he prefers leather catsuits to tweed skirts.” Indeed The Kiss Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer is a Turkish mystery novel, and our hero is a fabulous drag queen who looks like Audrey Hepburn and chats away to herself like Katherine Hepburn. It took me a while to get into the speech patterns and the very unusual world the characters live in, but faced with mystery novel after mystery novel of samesies, reading this was like a breath of fresh air. And, I learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes life of Turkish drag queens. Go figure. --Anthony BidulkaFurther Readings:
The Kiss Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); First Edition. 1 in number line edition (December 30, 2008)
Amazon: The Kiss Murder
Amazon Kindle: The Kiss Murder
The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency meets Pedro Almodovar in this outrageous new series featuring an ultraglamorous sleuth.
Bestsellers in Mehmet Murat Somer’s home country of Turkey and set to take the world by storm, the arrival of the Hop-Çiki-Yaya mysteries is cause for excitement (and lip gloss!) in the United States. A male computer technician by day and a transvestite hostess of Istanbul’s most notorious nightclub by night, the unnamed heroine of The Kiss Murder is the most charming and hilarious sleuth to debut in recent memory. When Buse, one of the “girls” at her club, fears someone is after private letters from a former lover, she comes to her boss for help. The next day Buse is dead and our girl must find the murderers before they find her. Fortunately, she is well armed with beauty, wit, the wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn, and expert Thai kickboxing skills. With a page-turning plot and an irresistibly charming protagonist, The Kiss Murder, book 2 in the Hop-Ciki-Yaya series, is sure to attract mystery lovers and nightlife mavens alike.
More Spotlights at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Lists/Gay Novels
This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/1063220.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.