Book Tour stop 9 – American Chronicle interview with Anne-Rae Vasquez author of Almost a Turkish Soap Opera

Interview with Anne-Rae Vasquez, author of ‘Almost a Turkish Soap Opera’ as posted on American Chronicle

November 24, 2012
Anne-Rae Vasquez authored Gathering Dust – a collection of poems, published by AR Publishing Inc. and Teach Yourself Great Web Design in a Week, published by Sams.net (a division of Macmillan Publishing). She wrote the novel and screenplay and directed Almost a Turkish Soap Opera, an award winning feature film and series produced by Joseph Khalil, Sababa Emporium Film Productions (http://www.sababaemporium.com) produced the feature film and series.

1. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I wanted my story to shine a light on the popularity of Turkish TV series and their popularity in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The Turkish soap operas are full of drama, action, romance and cultural conflicts which I´m certain North American readers will find entertaining. I also wanted to reveal the struggles of new immigrants as they try to get the basic things in life.

2. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

If I had a choice, I would choose Anita Daimant. I enjoy her works especially her novel, the Red Tent. I love the way she used the historical framework to create a narrative from the points of view from the women´s perspective. Anita´s ability to retell the story through the eyes of those whose stories are usually left unheard is the main reason why I admire her.

3. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

When I was a kid, I loved three things… books, movies and the Beatles. If anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I´d say without hesitation, “I´m going to be a writer, director, filmmaker and publisher.”

As a teen, I participated in drama clubs, young author writing groups, local theatre; and wrote and produced my own screenplays, etc. But unfortunately, life got in the way and I had to pursue a “real” job. I turned my creative energy into becoming an Internet web designer, which eventually landed me a writing contract with Sams.net/Macmillan Publishing who hired me to write “Teach Yourself Great Web Design”.

4. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I am working on Volume 2 of my cookbook Salha´s Secrets to Middle Eastern Cooking.

Anyone interested in Middle Eastern cooking will find the recipes in Salha’s Secrets to Middle Eastern Cooking Cookbook simple to follow. The meals are healthy and easy to make. The recipes have been passed down from mother to daughter for generations. As a westerner, I had the honour to learn how to prepare these authentic Arabic dishes from the kitchen of Salha herself. As she had taught her own daughters, she shared the secrets of her cooking in the Arabic language. The recipes have been translated into English by me.

5. Have you ever had writer´s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Writer´s block is an author´s nightmare. When this happens to me, I know it is time to take a break. I either focus on other things like my interest in cooking and baking so I´ll probably bake a cake or cook a roast to get my mind off the writing.

6. How did you develop your plot and characters?

I wrote Almost a Turkish Soap Opera to focus on the challenges that people face when trying to immigrate into a country—all in the style of a Turkish soap opera. Over the past few years, I have been addicted to watching Turkish soap operas dubbed in Arabic. I started watching the shows to learn the Arabic language but eventually I started watching them religiously ever night. I still watch them, in fact as I write this, I am watching episode 49 of Sila, a popular Turkish TV series. I developed the plot and characters based on a combination of stories and experiences I´ve encountered over the years. I used the framework of a Turkish soap opera to bring the plot together. In many Turkish soap operas, there is always an arranged marriage, a powerful domineering Godfather-like Uncle, a strong family presence, a jealous cousin, a conniving female character, a hero, a best friend and an attractive female lead. These ingredients mixed with family conflicts, encounters with the law, betrayals and affairs, all make for great Turkish drama.

7. What are your goals as a writer?

I plan to write more novels, most likely a fictional saga. I want to write more screenplays as well as produce more feature films.

8. What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

When I was a kid, I loved three things… books, movies and the Beatles. If anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I´d say without hesitation, “I´m going to be a writer, director, filmmaker and publisher.”

Three years ago, I approached Joseph Khalil, Sababa Emporium Film Productions, with the first draft of my novel and the story impressed him. He believed in my work and told me that I should follow my dream of making a feature film. He soon became the producer of Almost a Turkish Soap Opera, an adaptation of the novel and now an award winning independent feature film and web series. The film and series screened in festivals in the USA and Canada this year.

9. If you could leave readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?

Slow down and take the time to enjoy the little things in life.

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