Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. We’re doing something a little different. This is our first official author interview on this romance blog! I know in the past, we did character interviews then switched over to the author’s take on it, but this approach is a bit unusual.
We have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak one-on-one with the talented author of bestselling novel (also optioned into a television series), Kurt Seyt & Shura. Please join me in welcoming Nermin Bezmen to ILRB! 🙂
Marie Lavender: Hello, Nermin. Please have a seat.
Author Nermin Bezmen: Hi, Marie! Lovely to meet you.
Marie: It’s such a pleasure to see you here! I’m going to throw in some standard questions first.
Obviously, we know your occupation as an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have any other occupations? Do you believe you’re any good at them? Do you like what you do?
Nermin: I am an author. I believe I am good at what I am doing, and I do not only like but love writing.
Marie: Happy to hear it! 😉
So, tell us…what is your family like?
Nermin: My family is very loving, kind, considerate and close-knit but everybody with a space of his/her own. We are all very artistic and all have free minds and free souls.
Both my daughter and son left their highly paid businesses to pursue their artistic dreams, and I am so proud of them for they have chosen to do what they love most and not what they earn more from. Earning your money from what you love to do as a hobby is a great happiness, even if it does not pay like the corporate life. I have three sweet grandchildren who are all into art one way or another. My husband is an actor and his son is also another dreamy artist. I think I should convince my son-in-law to spare some time for his drawing abilities in which he is great, but has no time from his corporate life.
Marie: I love that your family is so creative! As for your son-in-law, I’m guessing he does what he can.
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Nermin: Due to my father’s business (he was a civil engineer), we had to move quite often, and I remember vividly every one of the places we lived in. I loved them all because they were all home for me… home where my mom and dad, then my sister were, and where there was unconditional love — always. Our home was always tidy, neat. Mom made sure everything was in order, no matter what. And she spared time to read to me every morning and night till I learned to read on my own. There were always books. Both my parents read. My grandparents read. I can still smell the delicious cakes mom freshly baked for me every afternoon when I came back from school. I can still picture her singing to my dad at our dinner table and I can hear the tango playing on the radio, and I see my dad and mom getting up from the table to dance. I can see that they are in love. They were always in love…
This is what my childhood home looked like… it looked like LOVE.
Marie: What a perfect picture for our readers, as we’re all about romance here! ♥♥♥
Do you have any hobbies, Nermin? What do you enjoy doing?
Nermin: I love reading, listening to music – mostly classical, painting, growing orchids, classic cars, boating, yoga.
Marie: Wow! Such an eclectic blend of pastimes! 😀
So…what is your greatest dream?
Nermin: My dreams never end and so there is no such thing like “the greatest dream” for me. One dream that seemed “the greatest” only a few years ago now is realized, so I have new ones on the horizon.
Now that my first novel is published here in America, I am dreaming of Kurt Seyt & Shura climbing to the top of the bestsellers list and then maybe made into a cinema movie and then maybe winning the Oscar. But as much as I work for this dream, I pray to God that I keep my mental and physical health to go on writing and seeing my family grow with love and happiness.
Marie: Nice! There’s certainly nothing wrong with those dreams…
Let’s try another question.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Nermin: I am not a rigid person who goes by others’ rules. Never have been. So unless it hurts somebody or my ethics, I always choose the life I want to live and I can be the person that I want to be. Nothing stopped me, nothing stops me. I am happy with myself. I like the person in me. This person is in great harmony with this body, this heart, this mind and soul. Although there are people I admire very much, I never envied anybody or wanted to be in someone’s place, no matter how successful or beautiful they are.
Marie: That’s rather admirable, and refreshing to hear!
Okay, I’m going to throw another random question at you now.
Who was your first love?
Nermin: LOVE itself. Since I was a little girl I remember myself wanting to be in love and be loved. I imagined myself deeply, blindly, unconditionally falling in love… so much in love that it even hurt and made me cry. There was no figure, no physical reflection of any body. It was just LOVE itself that I was after. God must have heard me well. When my first husband kissed me for the first time, all of a sudden love gained a physical appearance. After he was gone, I thought I had my share of love and never again could love or be loved. But my prayers must still be echoing that God introduced me with a new love, my second husband.
Marie: Aww…(sighs.) I love romance. ♥
Wow! I’m so glad you were blessed with not just one perfect match, but two.
Let’s try something else now.
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Nermin: Quite a few terrible things happened to me, but nothing to call “the most terrible” because I always managed to make something positive out of them.
Marie: How inspiring!
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Nermin: I have always been a dreamer. There is always a dream in the niches of my grey cells. Most of the time more than one.
My first great dream was to enter and win the examination of AFS (American Field Service) scholarship. I was only seven years old then and to be eligible for AFS, you needed to be seventeen. So for ten years I went to school and studied with that dream. For ten years every night when the lights were out, I dreamed of myself giving a “farewell” speech to my family and friends on my imaginary way to America. When I reached seventeen, my dream was realized and my “farewell” speech was written already. There are so many other dreams that I had and worked hard to make each one come true. For me, dreams are like a lovely sail boat on the horizon while I am sitting on the shore. I don’t just watch it go by, I swim towards it.
Marie: Such a nice thought! You’re truly a go-getter! 🙂
So, who is your role model, Nermin?
Nermin: My role models are the women of my family. They are kind, elegant, passionate, loving, hard working, strong, no-nonsense women with great dignity.
My ancestors, both from my father’s and mother’s side have been refugees from different lands. They all had to leave behind once a very good life, great lands, houses and loved ones too, and had to run away on horseback or in a fisherman’s boat. And those women, without nagging, once stood beside their husbands and shared the struggle to start a whole new life from scratch, and raised their family. When some of them lost their husbands, they never bowed down to anybody to make life easier, but proudly took responsibility for their families.
When I was doing research for my novels, I could clearly see how steady they all were and how much pride they had in themselves even during the most vulnerable times.
Marie: I agree. They all sound quite heroic!
Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Nermin: I believe life is too short to pretend. I never pretend for anything. I simply exclude the people I would not like from my life, and keep and pamper those I like.
Marie: I respect that!
Let’s try another question.
What is your deepest desire?
Nermin: To see the whole world in great harmony of peace and love.
Marie: I’m with you. There’s far too much hate in the world right now… 😦
So, tell me something, Nermin. What is your greatest fear?
Nermin: That evil people will not let this happen.
Marie: True enough.
Readers, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective on some of her characters.
We’ve heard rumors about the hero and heroine of your story. Quite interesting characters. Can you tell us a little about them?
Nermin: Kurt Seyt Eminof is the first son of a wealthy Crimean nobleman, a dashing first lieutenant in the Imperial Life Guard of the last Russian Czar Nicholas II. Injured on the Carpathian front and later sought by the Bolsheviks, he makes a daring escape across the Black Sea. Too proud to accept payment for the boatful of arms he hands over to the Nationalists, he faces years of struggle to make a new life in the Turkish Republic, rising from the embers of the dying Ottoman Empire. All he has is his dignity and love.
Shura (Alexandra Julianovna Verjenskaya) is an innocent sixteen year old beauty enchanted by Tchaikovsky’s music and Moscow’s glittering lights, who falls in love with Seyt. A potential victim of the Bolsheviks due to her family’s wealth and social standing, she is determined to follow her heart and accompanies Seyt on his perilious flight over the Black Sea.
Their love is the only solace to their crushing homesickness for a land and family they will never see again, two lovers among hundreds of thousands of White Russian émigrés trying to eke out a living in occupied İstanbul.
So, what are your characters’ greatest strengths?
Before revolution: Seyit’s strength, besides his brave character, comes from his family, his title, wealth, education, and his military position. Shura, on the other hand, is protected by her wealthy, aristocrat family, being pampered as the youngest of her five siblings.
After revolution, they both lose all the physical and emotional touch they had with their families, motherland, wealth, titles and what strength remains is only their love and the desire to survive in a foreign country.
Marie: All right.
And what are their greatest weaknesses?
Nermin: His pride… Her naiveté.
Let’s try something fun, shall we?
What are some of their favorite foods?
Nermin: Karski, kievski, caviar, çibörek.
Marie: (Laughs.) I’m not familiar with some of those! I guess I’ll have to try them sometime.
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your characters are unaware that he or she has?
Nermin: Both Kurt Seyit and Shura went through so much tragedy and had to endure so many hard times, that there was not a quality left hidden in them. They had to bring out and use them all to survive.
Marie: I see.
Will readers like or dislike these characters, and why?
Nermin: It depends on how deeply they will read the psychology behind every action, every decision. While we are sitting in our cozy, warm rooms, cuddled up on a soft sofa it is very easy to judge the characters in the book. One should just dive into the pages and start following the characters on their pathways and feel not only love but also pain, heartache, bloodshed, atrocity, yearning, struggling that they went through and had to endure.
Marie: That’s a fine point!
Well, now that we have a real taste of Kurt Seyt and Shura, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Kurt Seyt & Shura?
Nermin: Kurt Seyit is no stranger to me. He is my grandfather. I grew up listening to his adventures and for me, he was the Prince Charming that nobody wrote his story. My grandma kept telling me about him and his life each year with more details while I was growing up. And Shura was the most important character of that narration.
Years later, when I decided to write about my grandpa and grandma, starting with the second chapter, Shura was in my life and then I grew such a great admiration and love for this special woman that I decided this first novel would be of Kurt Seyt & Shura and then the second one of Kurt Seyt & Murka (my grandmother). I believed these two very different but great women each deserved a book with their own name on it.
Marie: That’s awesome! I wish I had all the finer details about my grandparents lives; I might do the same.
Interesting how the muse works, huh?
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Nermin: I don’t draw lines for my writing. If I am writing a true story, a true character, it has its own demands and if I am writing a fiction novel, then it’s different.
I generally start writing in my mind with a feeling of “love at first sight” for either a character, or a place, or even a dream. I immediately have the name and the first sentence of the novel that very moment. If it is going to be based on a true story, then comes the deep research, which is very challenging, not just because you keep deciphering a great puzzle but you also have to know when to stop the research and start writing. A thorough research can lead the writer to other stories, too.
Psychology of the characters is very important for me. I work on the psyche of each character like I am sewing a tailored dress made to order, one of a kind dress for them. It is the psyche of the person, what makes him/her converse, decide, feel, love, hate the way he/she does. It is the core of the novel. After I am happy with the details, I have to start writing… If it is fiction, after the few chapters my characters, mostly my hero/heroine tells me what kind of life they want, who they want to choose as a friend or a lover, where they want to travel, et cetera. So even fiction becomes real for me.
Marie: Nice! And I think that’s pretty normal for a writer. I know I haven’t touched the deep heart of one of my characters until I laugh or cry along with them while I’m writing a scene.
They definitely have minds of their own, for sure! 😉
So, how about another question?
I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Kurt Seyt & Shura or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Nermin: It was twenty-five years ago that Kurt Seyt & Shura was published in my motherland, Turkey. After taking the book to many publishers and being put in line to be reviewed for a year, if not rejected, I was so frustrated. I had already spent four years with very painstaking research, and one more to write it. It was not only years that I put into this novel, it was my heart, soul and many tears. Seeing my disappointment, my dear late husband decided to self-publish it. And on the first week in the book stores, it was a best-seller. After that, the rest of the Kurt Seyit saga followed and many more which made it to the top of the charts.
Now, after twenty-five years, here we are. This time in the United States, and again meeting with our readers with a self-published Kurt Seyt & Shura. Funny? Yes, now it sounds funny, but again I had such heartbreaking times. Kurt Seyt & Shura, having been translated to eleven other languages and adapted into a TV series and touched the hearts of millions all over the world, still got rejection from literary agents. And, you know, in America you cannot reach a publisher if you do not have an agent. So, I decided to go ahead with self-publishing. But my wish would not have come true in such a short time with this accuracy if my darling daughter Pamira did not take the burden of preparing, coordinating, launching the book. She has done wonders and I can’t thank her enough for what she has achieved. She practically left her own business, which is photography, aside and has been dealing with publishing matters for me. And my darling son Pamir Cazım, who has done the cover designs for most of my novels with great perfectionism, now contributed his masterful skill again. The cover has to give the feeling of the interior. He made it happen so beautifully. Dear Feyza Howell’s translation was another exciting process. She is a great translator working on every detail as if she is going to write the book herself.
Create Space editors also did a great job. They worked very meticulously.
Since this was the first self-publishing for us here in the United States, we learned a lot during the process. I am sure next time it will be much easier.
I hope that I will be able to touch the hearts of American readers with Kurt Seyt & Shura like I have done in so many other countries.
Marie: Well, I’m sure you will!
I’m a bit of hybrid, having been published by a publisher, as well as self-published several titles. It’s a juggling act either way, so I certainly feel your pain.
It was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Kurt Seyt & Shura appears to be. Congratulations on your release to the U.S., Nermin!
Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this sweeping historical romance by Nermin Bezmen, a compelling author!
Here is the blurb for Kurt Seyt & Shura:
An instant bestseller since its début in 1992, Nermin Bezmen’s Kurt Seyt & Shura is a classic of contemporary Turkish literature, a sweeping romantic drama set as the splendour of imperial Russia is obliterated in the wake of the Great War.
Bezmen tells the story of two star-crossed lovers fleeing the wave of devastation wreaked by the Bolshevik Revolution, and does so with great sensitivity: one half of this couple who sought refuge in the capital of the dying Ottoman Empire was her grandfather.
Translated into twelve languages, Bezmen’s Kurt Seyt & Shura inspired a sumptuous TV series that continues to enchant millions of viewers across the world. With the publication of this novel in English, fans can finally read the true story of this great love affair that triumphed over so much adversity, yet failed to overcome human fallibility.
In 2012, the prestigious Turkish production company Ay Yapim offered to turn the novel into a television series. The producers pulled together an A Team of cast, crew, and director, who in turn created the acclaimed T.V. series “Kurt Seyit ve Sura”, with Nermin Bezmen’s guidance as a consultant and Ece Yorenc as script writer. The leading roles were played by the talented (and ahem, may we add also gorgeous) duo Kivanc Tatlitug and Farah Zeynep Abdullah. After its initial viewing in Turkey, the series was distributed in many countries, including the United States, where it is currently shown on Netflix. The production reached millions of viewers across the world and stole the hearts of many, creating new excitement and awe around the life story of the two lovers, about 100 years after their first kiss.
The books in the saga include:
- Kurt Seyt & Shura
- Kurt Seyt & Murka
- Mengene Gocmenleri
- Shura Paris Years 1924-1927
The son of a wealthy Crimean nobleman is a dashing First Lieutenant in the Imperial Life Guard. Injured on the Carpathian Front and later sought by the Bolsheviks, he makes a daring escape across the Black Sea.
Too proud to accept payment for the boatful of arms he hands over to the Nationalists, he faces years of struggle to make a new life in the Turkish Republic rising from the embers of the dying Ottoman Empire. All he has is his dignity and love.
The innocent beauty enchanted by Tchaikovsky’s music and Moscow’s glittering lights falls in love with Seyit at the age of sixteen. A potential victim in the sights of the Bolsheviks due to her family’s wealth and social standing, and determined to follow her heart, she accompanies her Seyt on the perilous flight over the Black Sea.
Their love is the only solace to the crushing homesickness for a land and family they will never see again, two lovers amongst hundreds of thousands of White Russian émigrés trying to eke out a living in occupied Istanbul.
Nermin is also offering us a peek of the book!
A Night in Petrograd, 1916
Snow fell in fat, lazy flakes, an immaculate white blanket settling over the sleeping city. The carriage turning left at Alexander Nevsky Square laboriously carved a wide arc through the snow that had piled up all night, rounded a corner, and drew up to the pavement outside a three-story house.
A few snowflakes fluttered at the windowsills, stuck to the panes and frozen solid. The coachman gazed upward as instructed; a net curtain parted, and a shaft of light beamed out. A male figure wiped the glass, waved, and withdrew.
* * *
The young man consulted the pocket watch he’d left by the lamp on the bedside table: it was coming up to four; he still had plenty of time. Carefully, so as to avoid rousing the sleeping woman, he lifted the duvet and got back into bed. He reclined against the pillow, still holding his watch. Then, a little more determined, he flung aside the covers and got up. He drew the curtain back a little more and looked out. The moon illuminated the whiteness starting directly outside the windowpanes, sweeping unbroken over the garden, the railing, and the broad expanse of road. A world in white. Everything sparkled when the moon shone between the scudding clouds, and the world looked more splendid under this white coat.
Heavy curtains kept the world outside the windows, where it belonged. In the semidarkness, the room spoke in scents: perfume revealed a woman’s presence, and vodka testified to earlier indulgences, both mingling with the lavender emanating from the bed linens.
He turned toward the bed for a look. Amplified by the snow, the moonlight cast a bright-white light on the sleeping woman’s bare back. He recalled what the darkness sought to conceal: the deep auburn of her hair, now cascading over the pillow in waves; the groove of her spine dipping delightfully from the nape all the way to her waist and vanishing under the covers; and the right shoulder glowing in the playful light, a flawless expanse of alabaster.
Seemingly oblivious to the cold, he leaned his bare back against the window; then, grinning at the memory, he moved to the round table by the fireplace. The fruit platter, carafe, and glasses still stood where they had been left: half eaten and half drunk from. She was an impatient one, that Katya. Or was it Lydia? Whatever. The auburn beauty had excelled at entertaining him that night.
He picked up one of the half-full crystal glasses, downed it in one go, and shook his head as the alcohol stung his throat. He lit the pink opaline lamp in front of the mirror, and the soft light of gas spread into the room. Digging into the jumble of garments on the sofa, he gathered his own clothing and collected his underwear. He was moving toward the bathroom when the woman spoke sleepily.
“Why so early, darling?”
He strode toward her, still carrying his clothes. She stirred, rounded shoulders and full breasts braving the cold, her face now more distinct. Sweeping her hair up with one arm, she reached out with the other. He stared with barely disguised lust; the charming armpit thus exposed looked as arousing as the ample breasts bathed in the pink light. The sleepy gaze was not necessarily reserved for this time of night: she had proven her expertise in seduction with those large dark eyes framed by long eyelashes, eyes that spoke of the bedroom, of the pleasures of the flesh. Full lips pouting in anticipation, she waited, eyes shut, arm still outstretched. Smiling at her unrestrained behavior and ravenous appetite, he sat down on the edge of the bed. Her provocative scent mingled with the bedclothes, fragrant from passionate hours.
He yielded to the invitation of the arms wrapped around his neck. Languid eyes smoldered into his as she tugged away the bedclothes separating them to free her warm, buxom figure and snuggle up to him. She stroked his back and the muscles in his arms, pressed his head against her breasts, and presented her nipples to his lips. Effectively captured by her skillful limbs—surprising on such a petite woman—he enjoyed a lingering kiss before drawing back.
“It’s time I got ready. You might like to get up too; I’ll have you dropped off.”
She pouted with a half shrug. “Couldn’t we stay just a little longer?”
“I need to set off.”
“When will you be back? Will you call upon me again?” She stirred as if to get up during this barrage, hoping to tempt him to change his mind.
All she got in response, however, was a jaunty smile and a pinch on the cheek before he walked toward the bathroom. He mused as he washed; he couldn’t remember her name—just another one-night stand. Someone he had met at a wild party where the drink had flowed like water…and they had left together. She was no petty commoner, if the splendor of her dress and jewelry was anything to go by. In all likelihood, she’d arrived on someone else’s arm—probably the man who’d paid for that splendor.
As he shaved, his thoughts strayed to the journey ahead. Best to get a move on, given he had arranged to meet the others at the station in an hour.
By the time he’d returned to the bedroom with a towel wrapped around his waist, she was already dressed. He patted his cheeks and neck with lotion from a bottle on the console. “Wouldn’t you like to take a bath?”
“I never take a bath on my own,” came the flirtatious reply.
An irrepressible grin lit up his face as he combed his hair, thinking, Her husband—or lover, whoever it was—certainly has his work cut out. He dressed, ignoring his audience, who sat on the edge of the bed to admire the view.
Muscular and fit, the young man in his early twenties carried himself with an aristocratic posture and demeanor. His moustache and floppy fringe were chestnut. A cleft chin seemed to complete his striking looks: flashing dark-blue eyes, a straight nose, and a perpetually sardonic mouth.
The redhead patted her curls back into place and sighed. Her questions were destined to remain unasked as the young man, now in full uniform and boots, strode between wardrobe and dresser, clearly lost in his own thoughts. He picked up several items from drawers, and some books went into a suitcase. She watched, astonished that he appeared to have forgotten the many wonderful hours they had shared in bed. Her wiles had failed to hook him. She leaned back with another sigh.
Taking a ring from a box by the mirror, he placed it on his finger and then put a watch in his pocket. She remembered openly admiring them last night—she adored jewelry after all, and he’d said the sapphire-and-diamond ring was a family heirloom. The enameled gold watch adorned with rubies was a gift from Tsar Nicholas II, he’d told her.
Soon they were ready to leave. A muffled clatter rose from the street. The second carriage had arrived. He picked up his coat and hat. “All right, let’s go,” he said. “I’ll have you taken home.”
He extinguished the lamp and walked to the door. She followed, surprised and not a little disconcerted at the absence of one last kiss or a plea for another meeting, as if there had been nothing between them.
The coachmen leaped down and ran over the snow. The young man turned to his guest, took her hand, and said, “Aktem will drop you off. Fare thee well, my lovely.” Her name wasn’t even on the tip of his tongue.
“Will we meet again?” she tried one last time.
Happier now, she presented her cheek for a kiss, unbothered by the coachmen’s presence. Finally, gathering her courage, and with a bashful smile, she asked the one question that had plagued her all this time. “Tell me your name again?”
His merry laughter rang in the snowy street’s early morning silence. So the night had not been that memorable for either of them! Except for the ending, that is. He bowed, as if they had just met, and enunciated deliberately: “First Lieutenant Seyit Memedovich Eminof.”
* * *
As the two carriages drove away in opposite directions, the auburn beauty who had sweetened his night was already slipping from his mind.
Intriguing! I’m curious to find out what happens next… 🙂
Universal Amazon link: https://bookgoodies.com/a/B078T3WPNY
Website (international shipping for non-U.S. readers) : https://www.kurtseytandshura.com/buy-kurt-seyt-shura-english-book
We’ll be sure to get a copy of this historical romance! ♥
About Molly V. Lovell
Nermin Bezmen is an accomplished artist, art teacher, yoga instructor and broadcaster whose meticulous research into family history led to the publication of Kurt Seyt & Shura in 1992.
This fictionalized account of her grandfather’s life became an instant bestseller, and is now considered to be a masterpiece of contemporary Turkish literature to the extent that it has reached textbook status in several secondary schools and universities.
Exquisite detail distinguishes her writing as she proves that truth is indeed stranger than fiction, and that our ancestors call out to us all from the pages of history.
Her powerful character analysis and storytelling skills invite the readers to explore their own dreams, sorrows, anxieties and even fleeting fancies.
Bezmen has to date published fifteen novels, two of which are biographical, and one is a fantasy; a children’s novel, a collection of forty short stories and a book of poems. She has two children and three grandchildren and lives with her husband, actor Tolga Savacı in New Jersey and Istanbul.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the intriguing Nermin Bezmen, here are some author links:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2Ao8jjr
Once again, I want to thank Nermin Bezmen, the brilliant author of this fascinating novel, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!