Q & A/Interview with Irish Novelist Kristina O'Donnelly:  a.k.a. 'LadyLiterature'


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An excerpt from The Horseman:

>>>.....Just as disconcertingly, the Kurds' alienation was successfully tapped into by special interest groups, from their very own leaders who used their collective pain for personal gain, to the Soviets, to the Greeks, Armenians, and Syrians, neighbors who coveted territorial expansion at Turkey's expense. Each harboring their respective agendas, however conflicting with the other, they nevertheless managed to pool their resources and kept gnawing along the edges of the land map that was today's Turkey. <<<

Another Excerpt from The Horseman:

 ...>>>Mehmet Ali’s scowl deepened as he continued with an icy tone and raised, clenched fist, “How dare you claim that there are no Kurds in Turkey? How dare you deny the existence of millions of men and women?”

Ariadne froze with dread, her heart pumping madly.

Burhan’s gaze remained steady. “Let’s argue about this another time.”

“I agree,” Ali replied through clenched teeth. “Meanwhile, remember this: I am a Kurd. Loyal citizen of Turkey, but a Kurd, nonetheless. One of the ancient proud people rooted in Southeastern Turkey. And don’t try repeating that nonsense about that the word Kurd comes from the word kurt, which means wolf—”

As the words Kurd, Kurt, Wolf, Ali, seared through Ariadne’s brain like a row of falling, red-hot dominoes, Burhan observed calmly, “Why not, hey, it makes perfect sense to me.” Turning to Ariadne, he explained, “The Bozkurt, Gray Wolf, was indeed the archetype symbol of the Turkic tribes in Central Asia. We did see ourselves as the People of the Bozkurt, and there is this legend about how the Gray Wolf leads us to—”

“No!” Ali cried out vehemently, “We Kurds are racially distinct from Turks and Arabs—”

Burhan’s hand shot forward and grasped Ali’s wrist. “Watch what you’re saying!” he whispered urgently, pointing with his thumb to the adjacent tables, “You never know who’s listening, and I don’t want you to end up in jail just because you felt like locking horns with me.”

Freeing himself with a violent twist of the arm, Ali declared defiantly, “Listen to me, Burhan, and listen well. Just as you can not deny or ignore the reality of my existence, you can not deny the millions of others—”

“No, my friend, I can’t and I won’t,” Burhan interrupted him again, his voice still low, fraught with bitterness, “but in my eyes, what some of your people are attempting to do is akin to separating the nail from the thumb. Do you understand what I am saying, my friend? Separating the nail from the thumb!  Because, as I see it, the Turk and the Kurd, meaning you and me, have grown that close over the passing centuries.” Sighing, he drew deep on his cigarette, and then added coldly, “By the way, I know all about the secret Kurdish mandate for a higher birth rate to achieve parity in numbers with the Turks.”

Ali gasped, his face flushed deeply with emotion, but he remained silent. “Your leaders are turning your women into a collective baby factory,” Burhan went on quietly, “they’re deliberately creating a new underclass of—” abruptly pausing mid-sentence, he bit his lips.

Silence descended upon the table, dark and heavy with the potentially lethal argument both men took great pains not to unleash....

As Ariadne felt the nervous bristling of small hairs on the back of her neck, two names popped into her thoughts: White Roebuck and Wolf...

.....continued on the right, below the banner --------

Q.: Where did you grow up and was reading and writing always a part of your life?

Kristina O'Donnelly: I was born in Rome, Italy, but grew up in Istanbul, Turkey; I came of age in love with Istanbul and its people who are formed of a remarkably cosmopolitan, civilized, coat of many colors. And yes, from as far back as I can remember, pen , pencil and the urge to disseminate information, were part of my existence.

Q.: Who were your earliest influences and why?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Indeed my earliest influences were my parents. So deeply in love with Istanbul was I that my dreams and plans for the future involved (in addition to a career as a pen-warrior i.e. journalist) to help preserve her grandeur as a public servant, be it as a mayor, congresswoman, or senator (all possible goals for any woman living in contemporary Turkey). My parents, who were active anti-Communists as well as dedicated human rights champions, were asked  to leave Italy due to some of their (at that point in time) politically controversial beliefs and endeavors, and Turkey gave us sanctuary. Both of my parents had a strong  Calling to both read (i.e. learn) and write (to dispense what they learned to the masses who needed information), and this same Calling seems to be embedded in my genes, too... If you so wish, you could read more about them, by clicking on the B&W photo of me and my mother, on the right:

 Q: Why do you write?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Because I can't help it; it's a built-in part of my soul. I believe in the pen being mightier than the sword. So did my parents. We sure were three kindred souls!

 Q.: Tell us about your book THE HORSEMAN --

Kristina O'Donnelly:  In the briefest of terms, THE HORSEMAN is unusual, timely, exotic, provocative, yet  universal. However, it is also romantic, and deeply passionate. It does ask the question: What Price for Love That Defies Time? Would you pledge your soul to eternity?

Aspects of  THE HORSEMAN'S subject matter are controversial; depending on one's ingrained beliefs, it's either poison or manna. Nevertheless, The Horseman is presented with a you-are-there immediacy. Revolving around a dynamic American heroine, the novel encompasses Mid-Eastern politics, reincarnation, Tarot, mythology, the Irish Catholic experience, as well as the roots of the ongoing bloody upheavals between the Turks and Kurds. Complete with magnificent settings from Turkey and Mecca to Ireland and the United States, The Horseman presents an intense, multi-cultural love triangle with indomitable characters united in their quest for social justice. As Ariadne, the American, Burhan, the Turk, and Mehmet Ali, the Kurd, emerge from the mists of 8,000 BC and reunite in 20th Century Turkey, they play out their star-crossed destinies upon an explosive socio-political stage.

Q.: In THE HORSEMAN, you're delving into the subject  of Turks vs. Kurds, and Kurds vs Turks. What are your thoughts about this issue? Are the Turks indeed the aggressor in this conflict? Are the Kurds really an oppressed minority without any human rights?

Kristina O'Donnelly: The question of who the aggressor is, and of being an oppressed minority, changes according to which side of the fence you are seated on.

Q.: How do you explain this in light of the long-lasting bloody war between the PKK and the Turkish Armed Forces? I understand the death toll had reached 20,000 or more.

Kristina O'Donnelly: The PKK waged a war of terror and of separatism from Turkey. The brief reply would be: The Turkish Government did what any other government would do, send in the troops to quelch those who want to break apart the territorial integrity of the land.

Q.: You said your writings are poison to some, manna to others. What do you mean by that?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Because in deeply ingrained, controversial issues, there is never one solid set of truth. And when an outsider takes the role of an independent observer then writes claiming that their viewpoint  is "unbiased" and "objective," both of the feuding parties will disagree with her.

Q.: Your novels are quite complex and off the beaten track, ranging from reincarnation to Socialism, so why are you adding politically controversial issues, too?

Kristina O'Donnelly: I did not, consciously, sit down and concoct novels to fit a certain political view. Rather, these themes showed up as an inherent part of my fictional characters' lives. For example, one of my three protagonists, is a Kurd, Mehmet Ali Mesut, Professor of Sociology, who is an idealist, an enlightened man, whose chief concern is the betterment of his people by bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, yet he comes from a line of aghas, feudal lords. So naturally the theme of feudalism in Turkey, its history and effect on the emotional and social sovereignty of the people, enters the story line.

Q.: Does the Western world have a clear understanding of this particular issue?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Somewhat, yes. But for the majority, they are either romanticized or demonized. Depending in which direction blow the winds of politics, various p.r. machines disseminate information tailored to suit a particular agenda. An agenda determined to suit the interests of the power-brokers, and never the people's.

Q.: You sound like a Socialist.

Kristina O'Donnelly: Actually, die-hard Romantic would be a better description.

Q: How did you research the history and settings for THE HORSEMAN?

Kristina O'Donnelly: I've lived through it... I had friends among Turks as well as Kurds, listened to their opposing views, did my own independent research and reached my own conclusions.

Q.: Will The Horseman be published in Turkey, soon?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Yes. I'm happy to report that Kalemus Publishing House will publish its Turkish edition sometime in 2008.

Q.: You mention reincarnation, in THE HORSEMAN. Do you believe in reincarnation?

Kristina O'Donnelly: My answer is simple: Yes.

Q.: Can you validate this belief rationally, scientifically?

Kristina O'Donnelly: No.

Q.: But are you not a rational person born in the 20th Century?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Yes, and this is precisely why I do not even try to question my belief. But I certainly try to understand it.

(Well, dear Reader, let’s leave the defense of such an illogical belief/notion aside. Fact is, I have a deep, unabating connection to the Neolithic-era settlement excavated in Chatalhoyuk, Konya. While my heroine Ariadne’s vivid experiences are entirely of her own, mine comprise of strong feelings and brief series of memory-like scenes, involving several locales, from Vienna to Rome to Istanbul and London. However, like Ariadne, I too passed through Konya in the late 1960s, and was overwhelmed by emotions which had left me breathless.

 In conclusion, I would like to leave you with this thought: It makes sense to consider the cause-and-effect fluidity of the Soul. Yes, remain a rational person of sovereign mind, with two feet anchored on terra-firma, but if a sense of deja-vu leaps at you unexpectedly, from the left side of your life’s field, do not walk away from it either. For quite possibly its purpose is to set your soul upon the path of spiritual liberation, and prepare you to reunite with the Light.)

Q.: THE HORSEMAN is the first in a series of novels titled Lands of the Morning. How long will it take you to complete the series?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Well, it began as a trilogy, then turned into a quintet, and now with seven books published and three more on the workbench so to speak ... I think I might be busy for the rest of my life!

Q.: I noticed the subtitle on Clarion of Midnight: Megali Idea. What does it mean?

Kristina O'Donnelly:  Megali Idea is a concept of Greek nationalism expressing the goal of establishing a Greek state that encompasses all ethnic Greeks, going back to the Greek-Turkish War of 1897.

Q.:: Who are your favorite writers and why?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Some of my favorite authors are: Anya Seton, Taylor Caldwell, James Michener, Wilbur Smith, Katherine Neville, Turkish authors Yashar Kemal, Halide Edip Adivar, Dr. Muazzez  I. Cig, and Piers Anthony. I enjoy their works and respect their knowledge, research, and spirit. Each of their works present a tour-de-force, simultaneously entertaining and educating on a multi-cultural, if not cosmic, scale.

Q.: What's next?

Kristina O'Donnelly:  More reading (i.e. learning), and writing. Currently, I am busy translating the Horseman into Turkish.

Q.: Do you have a screen-play?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Yes, albeit a short partial; I have no experience at all in this craft, and am seriously looking for the right partner to team up with. Let this be a notice to screen-writers and producers interested in making a film about contemporary Turkey and her roots in the classical era.

Q: And what about your latest novels, Andromakhe, Trojan Enchantment, and Korinna?"

Kristina O'Donnelly:  The origins of these three novels hearken to when the late Louise Halley Forshaw and I had buckled up to write a novel together. Here is the link: http://www.trojanenchantment-novel.com/; it's worth the visit!

Q.: Most of your novels are connected to Turkey one way or the other; have you been to Turkey recently? Are you planning another visit?

Kristina O'Donnelly: I had attended the Istanbul Book Fair in October of 2003, upon the behest of my publisher, Epsilon, and had autographed copies of Ride the Eagle (e-book version's title: Beloved Enemy) which was my first novel translated and published in Turkey. I must tell you since Turkey, a.k.a Lands of the Morning, is the realm of my youth, per se, this was quite an emotional experience for me! And yes indeed I plan another visit. To attend the Istanbul Book Fair, to augur the publication of my next novel in Turkey.

Q.: What was the last book you read?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Lately, I've been cutting a deep, wide swathe through Piers Anthony's magnificently diverse novels, and currently I am reading TAROT, which is billed as The Classic Fantasy Adventure, but it's really a deep, universal quest for the meaning of Life and the veracity of God.

Q.: Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?

Kristina O'Donnelly: Reading, writing, day-dreaming, and falling in love with my husband, Michael, on a daily basis. As I live, so I write. Slainte!

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 Excerpt, continued: >>>>>..............Her mind leaping to Ali, she felt troubled by the way Burhan had termed him a fedai, martyr for the cause, but also, by the memory of how his eyes shone tonight as he argued with Burhan. His blazing green gaze was reminiscent of the dark and savage warlord of her nightmares. Once again the words Kurd, Kurt, Wolf, shot through her brain like lightning. Panic rose in her and she tried to employ common sense to still her racing heart.

Still, she could not fall asleep. She had the ever-increasing, deeply disturbing sense that Mehmet Ali, Burhan, and herself formed a triangle. And that their coming together at this point in time, had a purpose. A purpose which may yet culminate in some sort of tragic reckoning....


'If good people do nothing, evil triumphs.’ Say: Can do, Will do!

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