– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus’ book birthday blitz, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Ayşe Osmanoğlu is a member of the Imperial Ottoman family, being descended from Sultan Murad V through her grandfather and from Sultan Mehmed V (Mehmed Reşad) through her grandmother. After reading History and Politics at the University of Exeter, she then obtained an M.A. in Turkish Studies at SOAS, University of London, specialising in Ottoman History. She lives in the UK with her husband and five children.
Brothers bound by blood but fated to be enemies. Can their Empire survive or will it crumble into myth?
Since his younger brother usurped the Imperial throne, Sultan Murad V has been imprisoned with his family for nearly thirty years.
The new century heralds immense change. Anarchy and revolution threaten the established order. Powerful enemies plot the fall of the once mighty Ottoman Empire. Only death will bring freedom to the enlightened former sultan. But the waters of the Bosphorus run deep: assassins lurk in shadows, intrigue abounds, and scandal in the family threatens to bring destruction of all that he holds dear…
For over six hundred years the history of the Turks and their vast and powerful Empire has been inextricably linked to the Ottoman dynasty. Can this extraordinary family, and the Empire they built, survive into the new century?
Set against the magnificent backdrop of Imperial Istanbul, The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus is a spellbinding tale of love, duty and sacrifice.
Evocative and utterly beguiling, The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus is perfect for fans of Colin Falconer, Kate Morton and Philippa Gregory.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Hello… I’m Ayşe. I was born in England, but I am Turkish and a member of the Ottoman Imperial family. After reading History and Politics at the University of Exeter, I obtained an M.A. in Turkish Studies from SOAS, University of London, where I specialised in Ottoman History. I live in Sussex, in the UK, with my husband, our five beautiful children and our two cats. Other than researching my family history, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, travelling to new and interesting places, reading historical novels, playing golf and tennis, and I absolutely love going to the ballet. My guilty pleasure is chocolate, and lots of it!
I’m still not quite used to the idea of being an author! The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus is my debut novel and the book that I always dreamed of writing. Ever since I was a little girl… I just never seemed to have the time to write it – until now!
It was never my intention to publish the book – it was written to encourage my children’s interest and sense of pride in their heritage, and to teach them the forgotten customs and traditions of my family. So, one day, I simply started to write. I also wanted to record some of the many stories and memoires that my grandparents shared with me of their unique lives in Imperial Istanbul, before they were lost forever. And I wanted to discover more about the characters and personalities behind the faces in our faded old family photographs, so as to keep their memory alive. (My father persuaded me to publish the book once he had read it and I just couldn’t refuse him. The paperback was then published on his 80th birthday!)
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now grown up?
As a child I used to love reading fairytales – especially ones about princesses! Now that I am all grown up I enjoy reading historical novels as I still enjoy reading about princesses! My shelves are filled with books by Jean Plaidy, Alison Weir, Hilary Mantel and Philippa Gregory…
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if this was actually possible?! I would choose Leo Tolstoy as I would love to learn how he weaves such compelling themes into his stories and bares open his characters’ souls. If he were busy I would ask Jane Austen if I could pick her brain, on account of her wonderfully subtle wit and her detailed and perceptive character portrayals, which I would love to try to emulate even if only in a tiny way.
If you could, which fictional character would you like to invite for tea and why?
I would like to invite Elizabeth Bennet into the drawing room after dinner for tea, as was the custom in her time! I just know that I would instantly like her and want her to become a close friend. Her lively wit, outspokenness and sharp intelligence would make for great conversation, and of course I would also like to find out if she and Mr Darcy lived ‘happily ever after’ as we all hope. I love the fashions of that period – so beautiful and feminine – so I would also be intrigued to see what she would wear!
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I am most definitely not a morning person! So on a writing day I am rarely at my desk before about 11ish, but once there I am ensconced for the day! I am not naturally creative so need to escape to the sanctuary of my study, surrounded by shelves of books and piles of research material, before being able to immerse myself into the scene I am working on. I also need complete silence to write. Not easy with five children, so I tend only to write when they are at school / university. I usually begin by re-reading the chapter I have been working on, go over any relevant research notes, and then just start tapping away at the keyboard. Once I have written a scene, I will re-read it a few times, make whatever edits I feel are needed, then reward myself with a few pieces of chocolate!
Where do you come up with your ideas? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
No one in my life need be worried!! My books are based on real people who lived a long time ago and on real historical events, so this is what gives me the main framework of my stories. Many ideas came from reading my Grandfather’s memoirs, listening to the stories of both my grandparents and to my father’s recollections. I do however get some ideas from observing my own children – the scene in the palace’s harem garden where the young princes and princesses build a snowman and have a snowball fight is one such example. Whether it be Istanbul in 1905 or Sussex in 2021, children playing in the snow will have much the same kind of fun!
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
When I wrote The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus I absolutely went with the flow! I planned no plot outlines, made no chapter summaries and I had never even heard of the Three Act structure! I did however, draw out a timeline, but that was about as far as I got. However, during lockdown I took an online creative writing course, so the sequel might be written in a much more structured way!
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s / don’ts)?
Being a complete novice myself, I really do not think that I am in a position to give anyone any advice. However, what I would say is write about what you love or are interested in, write for yourself, and enjoy the journey…
What are your future plans as an author?
My dream is to continue researching and telling the story of my family. I plan to write a saga that will end in 1924, so I hope that there will be a few more books to come! Research for the sequel is well underway…
Last, but not least: Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Absolutely! It would be my pleasure! As I mentioned the snowball fight earlier, I will take you back to December 1905 and invite you into the harem garden of the Çırağan Palace on the shores of the Bosphorus, to meet my grandfather’s aunts and uncle as they play in the snow with their father.
Outside in the harem garden, meanwhile, two opposing sides had established themselves; each had set up makeshift defences behind one of the clumps of trees, and was busy building up supplies of snowy ammunition. The once-pristine blanket of snow was now dotted with large patches of uncovered grass and haphazardly-scattered footprints, giving it the appearance of a tattered patchwork quilt. Selahaddin had been voted the ‘commander’ of one of the sides by Adile and Safiye, his two ‘captains’, while ‘General’ Fuad had assumed command of the other. He had appointed Rukiye as his second-in-command, and this had instantly angered Atiye, who was not at all happy to have been relegated to the position of a mere sergeant! That had been the first argument. The second had been about tactics – Fuad had ordered his sisters to draw the enemy out into the open, where he would attack from above. He planned to climb one of the trees and rain down snowball bombs on his adversaries, undetected by them. Rukiye had said this was too dangerous – a remark that was not well received by Fuad, who retorted that she obviously did not understand that war was in any case a dangerous business. He had then felt obliged to remind her that a junior officer should never contradict the orders of her superior, especially on the field of battle; however, she had ignored him and told him not to be silly.
Battle was now joined. Despite feeling somewhat disheartened by this untimely mutiny, Fuad modified his tactics, leading a death-defying head-on charge into the clump of trees that his father was defending together with the ‘twins’. Snowballs flew in all directions, bursting open on impact; for the most part their trajectories ended on the ground or against tree trunks, but a few did indeed find their target. As ordered, Rukiye and Atiye concentrated their attack on their father, and he soon surrendered in fits of laughter. Fuad’s missiles hit Safiye first on the leg, then on the chest. She raised both hands above her head in a gesture of surrender, not wanting to be hit again – which meant that only Adile now remained to be forced into submission. By this time Fuad was running low on ammunition, but seeing his sister crouching behind a tree he took aim and lobbed a particularly compact snowball straight at her. It hit her hard in the face, and she burst into tears. This had not, of course, been his intention, and he rushed over to apologise, but all the same the incident brought the game to an abrupt end.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Ayşe Osmanoğlu.
Thank you so much Stefanie, for inviting me to answer your probing and interesting questions and for hosting me on your Blog, and thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising my Virtual Book Tour to celebrate the 1st Birthday of The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!