Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Author of Voice of Conscience, Behcet Kaya, Presents Sequel Road to Siran!

I was privileged to have the opportunity to read Behcet Kaya's first novel, Voice of Conscience, many years ago and then lost track of him. Recently he changed his FB Page to his name and I was happy to reconnect and learn that he had since written two more novels, one of which is the sequel to Voice of Conscience. Road to Siran: Erin's Story, is a much softer and more contemporary novel where Erin travels back to her father's homelands, to meet family and to better understand why--why her father had committed suicide...

On her travels, she both travels through Siran, Turkey, and learns how the town has played a part of her ancestral past... a loving family but also...danger...

"Oh, Erin. All I know is that your father's parents died when he was a boy. I've never even seen a picture of them."
"I heard they were murdered."
My mother looked over at me in such a weird way.
"Who told you that?"
"Ogden told me. When Dad was at Hatfield Pol Tech and staying with her family, he used to have nightmares. She said that her parents thought he must have seen his parents and sister being murdered."
"But you were just a little girl when Ogden was your nanny. How do you even remember something like that?"
"I may have been young, but it's something that's pretty hard to forget, Mom."
"Murdered...I just don't understand. Your dad and I don't keep secrets. He should have told me."
"Mom, I want to go to the village where Dad was born. I want to find out about him, his family, where he went to school, all of it."
"We'll see, Erin, we'll see."
That was, and still remains my mom's stock answer to just about everything.

Road to Siran:
Erin's Story

By Behcet Kaya
"O Turkish Youth!
Your first and foremost duty
is to defend and protect the
Turkish independence
and the Turkish Republic
for all eternity.
All the mighty strength 
that you will need exists
in the noble blood flowing
in your veins!"
--Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Founder and First President of the Turkish Republic

Even before her father's death, Erin had wanted to travel to Atamkoy, Turkey, her father's birthplace. Ramzi Ozcomert, Jr., had named Erin after his sister, who had died before he came to America. Now she was old enough to decide and travel, alone, for her long-desired trip. Freedom! As her mind swirled with emotions, she suddenly decided that there was no reason to go directly to Atamkoy, instantly deciding to stop first and stay at the Hilton ParkSA, which "offered breathtaking views of the Bosporus...

Don't look for Love, Look for the one looking for Love. --Mevlana

Erin had made it to Istanbul and almost immediately saw one of her former professors, Dr. Ratcliff...and ran to meet him, although he had not recognized her... Ok, yes, they meet and become involved but you'll have to read all about that! There is too much more to share about this wonderful book! Especially seeing more of Turkey, right? Dr. Ratcliff had first recommended....

My taxi slipped through the chaotic traffic with experienced precision, and soon I was standing in the middle of Taksim Square. According to my guidebook, the square is considered the heart of modern Istanbul. It is also the location of the Monument of the Republic, commemorating the formation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
I found myself walking shoulder to shoulder with a multitude of people, businessmen, housewives, mothers...Making my way through the crowds, I stood in front of the Monument of the republic and walked slowly around the towering marble and bronze memorial. On one side, Kemal Ataturk wore his military uniform, as the hero of the War of Independence. On the opposite side, Ataturk was dressed in civilian clothes, as the first president of modern Turkey, and surrounding him were figures...

By the time the professor was taking Erin to the Ottoman Club, she was calling him Harry and they were accepting their mutual attraction. Of course, my main reason for including the dance--because I'm not quite sure it is the same dance mentioned in the book--is because in my much earlier days, I took belly dance lessons and love the fluidity of movement shared...
A drum-beat began to sound as two men walked onto the dance floor carrying a rolled up red carpet on their shouldrs. They slowly lowered the thick rug to the floor and each pulled the rug at one end. The kilim started to unroll, and when the end of the rug was reached, there appeared a dancer dressed in a barely-there, shimmering blue harem outfit.
Harry leaned over and whispered in my ear. "Her particular routine is called raks sharki, the dance of seduction. The valide sultan, the reigning sultan's mother, chose which harem girls would entertain the sultan each night. At the same time she was dancing, she was slowly removing the sultan's clothes with the ultimate dance of making love."

But soon Erin stopped being a tourist and started visiting places where she could research newspapers...She began to read about murders, in gruesome detail, including a picture. It referred to an unidentified man who had mysteriously disappeared...Erin recognized him, Oh, my God. That's Dad! Her father was a 

Atamkoy 5 km.
I pulled the car to the side of the road and turned off
the engine. Less than four miles. My heart was thumping
so hard, I felt as if I couldn't catch my breath. I seriously
considered scrapping the whole trip.
What am I doing here?
I knew what my father had done. Why did I want to
bring this tragedy upon relatives I had never met?
What will happen once the truth is known?
Erin flew into Erzincan, the closest airport to Atamkoy and then decided to stay overnight at Siran...It was almost dark, but she watched for a little time as a group of men danced in the street to the beat of a davul and zurna. Checking into a small hotel, she was presented with a small paper-bound book, which he explained was the history of the 

Then she started trying to reach some of her relatives in Atamkoy.  Fortunately, Erin was quite fluent in Turkish, but still had to make several calls before somebody referred her to Fatima Ozkoy and gave everybody a scare when she identified herself as Erin Ozcomert, who of course, had been dead for years!

While becominf apprehensive, she was still determined to go on...

And was soon in a loving relationship with her Aunt Fatma and presented with a very special gift on behalf of her father--her grandmother's journal which had been written for her son... and is shared with readers.

Erin became so involved with getting to know more of her family that she read it continuously! And later was the center of a family gathering, all wanting to meet Ramzi's daughter...

But as the word spread, it soon became apparent that Erin could be in trouble...

Such a very intriguing story, set against the ancient customs and traditions, including the seeking of justice for what had happened so long ago... Erin started trying to reach Harry to seek counsel, only to find that her old professor might be part of the danger surrounding her!

This is such an excellent sequel to the drama of Voice of Conscience! The evolution of culture might change but many early customs and traditions can still bring a revival of pain, anger, and the desire for revenge that may have been forgotten, but never forgiven...

I believe this second novel can also stand on its own as there is sufficient historical documentation through the journal that allows readers to enter into the total story, but I would still encourage reading both to get the full impact of these stories set in northeastern Turkey. Highly recommended, especially for those who love to travel around the world, like I do, learning of countries where we will never have the opportunity to visit!


Author Behcet Kaya was born in northeastern Turkey. Growing up in a small village with long held traditions, his rebellious and creative nature emerged at an early age. Leaving home at fourteen, he travelled first to Istanbul and then on to London. His dream was to complete his high school education and then a college degree in engineering. While at Hatfield Polytechnic, Kaya made his first visit to the U.S. as an exchange student with the BUNC. He made the move to the U.S. in 1976 and became a U.S. citizen in 1985. While living in Atlanta, Georgia, he followed his creative yearnings, attending the Alliance Theater School and studying at the SAG Conservatory of Georgia. Kaya and his wife moved to Los Angeles, where he continued his studies at the Roby Theater Company and the Shakespeare, A Noise Within Theater Workshop.

Along with acting, writing became a natural outlet for his creative yearnings. He has published two novels, "Voice of Conscience" and "Murder on the Naval Base" as well as several short stories. The sequel to "Voice of Conscience" titled "Road to Siran - Erin's Story, is now available."

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