I’m delighted to welcome writer, Madison West, author of the just released, contemporary romance novella, Turkish Delight, part of an eight story holiday anthology, Season of Surprises.
First a few facts about our author:
Madison West is an avid reader and book reviewer for Contemporary-Books.com. When not busy with her many graphic design projects, she loves to plot a story for her next book or upcoming trip to another part of the world.
Thank you for joining us at Scribbler’s today, Madison!
Tell us Scribblers a little about Turkish Delight, and what inspired this story?
I visited Istanbul last year after suffering a personal loss. It was around my birthday and I just wanted to get away and go somewhere new. When I arrived in the city I was taken aback by how beautiful it was. It’s a city that has beautifully resolved all of it outward conflicts and embraces its polarizing aspects. Istanbul is a city rich with history, but also embraces the new with its modern buildings and amenities. It’s also a city that sits between two major geographical points: the east and the west, Europe and Asia. I remember clearly walking one of the bridges connecting both continents thinking what a great location it would be for a story. Istanbul is really such a beautiful metaphor for so many conflicts.
When I came home I wrote what was the first draft of Turkish Delight, which is a story about a young woman named Amelia, who suffers a traumatic loss and becomes agoraphobic as a result. She is forced out of her reclusive life when she is required to go on a work trip to Istanbul, and it’s there that she meets a handsome and fearless world traveler named Owen.
Have you ever collaborated on a book before?
I have only worked on solo writing projects but participating in a book anthology has been a great learning tool. I’m looking forward to participating in more projects like this one in the near future.
Do you have any advice when working with multiple authors?
Take plenty of notes. With so many personalities and so many different viewpoints, it’s important that you find common ground on your project. So far, all of the ladies working on the Season of Surprises set have been wonderful to work with.
What’s the first thing you know for sure about a new story concept? Plot? Character? Something else?
It’s usually a mix, but mostly I find myself gravitated towards a character first. I get to know who they are and what events shaped their story. The fun part is then transporting this newfound person and placing them in a story that I almost know nothing about. So, in a way, I am embarking on the journey with my character too.
What is your heroine, Amelia’s, greatest strength? Weakness?
Amelia is a very ambitious and smart character, qualities that make her a valuable asset at the art gallery where she works. Unfortunately, her greatest weakness is that she’s afraid of new experiences. She likes her rigid routine and anything that upsets that brings about a lot of anxiety. I can assure you, having her go to Istanbul was quite the adventure for her.
What is your hero, Owen’s, greatest strength? Weakness?
Owen is an incredibly compassionate person. He uses this compassion to travel the world and immerse himself into different cultures and experiences so seamlessly. However since he is so well travelled, I think he has a hard time understanding people who aren’t willing to leave their comfort zone. Having him cross paths with Amelia really makes him question this viewpoint.
Can we have an excerpt from Turkish Delight?
At the Peak of Uludağ Mountain, one could see nearly all of Bursa. Covered in a blanket of white snow, rows of homes and buildings in the distance. They took a cable car up the snow covered mountain. It was a small metal car that held about four or five people. Amelia and Owen shared it with an older couple and their high school aged son.
“Do you ever get tired of travelling?” Amelia asked Owen.
Not yet. I find it hard to stay in one place.”
Amelia was curious how that could be. “Don’t you ever long for home?”
Owen stretched out his arms. “This is my home now.” He smiled. “The world is my home.”
The old man across from him nodded in agreement.
Owen turned to Amelia. “It’s your home too.”
“I’m starting to believe that” she said.
“The more I’ve travelled, the more I’ve come to see how small the world really is,” Owen said. “And when you really look at it, we’re all very alike. We all have families, we all share similar holidays, general discontent with government, usual grievances with the cost of living.” He shrugged. “Life is pretty universal.”
“I’ve never looked at it that way.” Up until now, everyone and everything else in the world had felt so strange and distant to her. She was starting to see the world differently now. Perhaps Owen was right in that people were interconnected.
“You’re so brave with the way you think.”
“Only brave and adventurous souls make it to Turkey—I think it scares too many people away for that reason.”
“I’m neither brave nor adventurous.”
“You’re here right now.” He looked at her intently. “I think you are.”
What is your most lasting impression from your visit to Istanbul?
My lasting impression of the city is the beautiful architecture. I took a lot of photos from my trip and some of my favorite pictures are the ones taken during sunset – the city glows up and it’s truly a magical sight to see.
Have you made any of the food from this region? What is your favorite dish?
I don’t consider myself an adventurous eater, but in Istanbul the food smelled so delicious it was hard to wimp out. I’m not a huge fan of meats either, and could be considered borderline vegetarian but I ate meat almost every day when I was in Turkey. The Turks are known for their variety of kebabs and I’ve tried my hand at making Iskandar kebabs and chicken shawarma. But nothing beats the authentic experience that I had there.
How do you get through writer’s block when you have a deadline?
This was a very important lesson I just learned recently. When you have a deadline looming and are plagued with writer’s block, you just have to write. It’s as simple and as hard as that.
What does your writing space look like?
I’m a graphic designer by day, so my desk is large and is taken over by a large computer. I have two large windows that face a small lake and offers a lot of soft light throughout the day.
What are you currently reading?
I get access to a ton of new books on a weekly basis as a book reviewer, and the book that I am currently reading is “Give Me Your Answer True,” by Suanne Lacquer.
What is your favorite character written by another author?
I have a lot of favorite characters, but I recently just saw the movie adaptation of Andy Weir’s, “The Martian,” and love the main character, Mark Watney. He’s smart, witty and doesn’t let dire circumstances get in the way of his daring spirit.
What is your go to snack when writing?
I love munching on almonds and celery. Chocolate is occasionally involved.
What is your favorite sound?
The sound of my keyboard when I’m writing. It means magic is about to happen.
What is your least favorite sound?
My morning alarm clock. I love my sleep and I hate being reminded that it’s over.
What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever received?
I took a creative writing class in college and the professor once told me to focus on the small details in my stories. Small details are where life resides and bringing up the small details brings your story to life.
What books or projects do you have coming up in the future?
I plan on writing a series of love stories that take place in exotic locations. My next story is going to take place in Paris, France.