How did you decide to become a novelist? Like a lot of writers, I’d always written things as a child, but I’d never written them for publication. Then, when I studied for my degree, I wrote a couple of academic things and that was quite nice, but of course it’s not like writing for the mass market. It’s a very small market. Then when I started working in a psychiatric hospital, that’s when I started writing – I wrote almost as a kind of therapy. I worked on a forensics unit, so I worked with people who had committed offences. Obviously, you can’t talk about it outside the unit, but some of the things I’d hear would be quite difficult to deal with. So I think, like other crime writers, you create an almost perfect world, where everything gets sorted out. I think I’d like crime fiction anyway, but part of it was to have people do things and have it be okay, because that wasn’t happening in real life very often.
Will you ever stop writing about Turkey?
I don’t want to stop! [Laughs]. It’s because I’m always finding new things. So I’d like to continue if I can, but of course it depends on whether people want me to. That’s the whole point of being an author – you’re there only as long as people want you there.
After all the topics you’ve covered – Arabesque music, ethnic killings, drug use, goths in Turkey, rural communities, terrorism – you’ve now chosen to write about honour killings. How did you choose this as the theme of A Noble Killing?
I felt, for various reasons, that the time was right. There’s been a lot of publicity about it both in Turkey and in England, because we also have honour killings here [in the UK]. The thing is, hearing from both sides, from the UK and Turkey, I realised that it’s a much bigger subject than I originally thought. It goes far beyond the ordinary perception of it. People always see it as a religious thing. There are often religious elements to it, but it’s much bigger than that. It’s much more of a social thing, a cultural thing, and [it] affects people more than somebody getting killed. It’s much bigger than that. It affects an entire community. The pressures on the victims, on the people who do it, on the people around them, are enormous.
Did your research show you why this was the case? It’s thought that [it is] because there are more people [emigrating] from the countryside [to the city] where this kind of behaviour is more prevalent. The same is true [in the UK]. It’s not a thing you see in cities generally, but it’s a thing you see going on in the countryside all the time.