What made you decide to set it in Turkey?
I love Turkey. I’ve visited several times. I knew after the first time, I would set a story there. It’s such a fascinating country. In Istanbul, the exotic Ottoman architecture mixed with the modern immediately captures your interest. There’s the hustle and bustle of the bazaars, which I enjoy, especially the Spice Market. It’s a colourful place. You can’t throw a rock in Turkey and not hit something historical. Their history goes back to the Bronze Age. Turkey’s been part of the Hittite Empire, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire and a secular, independent modern nation. The people are nice. The food is excellent. The landscape is remarkable in its variance. There’s the beautiful coastal area along the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean and the starkly different coastline on the Black Sea. The region of Cappadocia with its fairy chimneys and underground cities is other worldly in appearance. To the east are mountains and grassy plains.
Did you have to do a lot of research about police procedural there?
Not police procedural per se. Atakan is actually a representative of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. I was fortunate enough to have a contact/advisor who is an archaeological diver and Turkish. He told me that all legitimate archaeological sites in Turkey have a representative of the Ministry present to watch over the safety of the site and relics. I took some dramatic license and gave Atakan more police authority than he’d have in real life. For the SWAT operation, I did research weapons used by the Turkish authorities and how they would interact with our military stationed at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey to obtain intelligence information needed. Again, I was lucky. I have a friend who headed up a SWAT team for a major US city and who was a Marine reserve who served in Iraq and trained our soldiers in urban-crisis entries. My friend was familiar with how the flow of intelligence gathering is handled. He also advised me on some of the SWAT tactics.
There are a lot of Turkish words in the story. Do you speak Turkish?
No. I’d like to learn. I do have the Rosetta Stone program for Turkish but it is an extremely difficult language. It uses the Latin alphabet that we are familiar with but the conjugation and pronunciation is not what you’d expect. My Turkish diver friend helped with the translation as did another Turkish friend who’s a tour guide. I cannot understand it when spoken to me (rarely anyway). I am better at reading it and then I really only know some basic words and phrases.