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Celil Oker

What do you write?

Crime fiction.
Books about crime fiction.
Reviews / criticism of crime fiction

Question: Can you remember the first crime novel you read? What and when was it?

Celil Oker: It should be "I, the Jury" by Mickey Spillane. My father had the cheap dime novel Turkish edition in his library. I must be in the 6th or 7th grade when I discovered it.

Question: What is your interest in crime fiction? Why and for how long have you been writing it?

Celil Oker: I wrote my first book in the summer of 1998. That is not my first attempt to be a writer. As a young university student, I had craved to be a "literary" short story writer and in 1982, at last I managed to see them in print in a literary magazine. To my astonishment, the world did not change at all. I had hoped otherwise. After long years of advertising copy writing, came my first Remzi Ünal book. A small note: my detective hero's name had appeared in some of those early short stories. So, as a some sort of homage to my aspirations as a young man, I named him so.

Question: Name your first crime fiction publication

Celil Oker: Çiplak Ceset, Oglak Yayinlari, 1999.

Question: Name a crime fiction writer who has had a particular influence on you, and why.

Celil Oker: I believe I learned a lot about creating and managing a central character from my early readings of Agatha Christie. When it comes to getting tips on reflecting the zeitgeist of a society and and era, I respectfully must mention Dashiel Hammet and Raymond Chandler of course.

Question: What crime novel would you most like to have written?

Celil Oker: Since I am having a lot of problems in getting forward with the one I am working on, I would very much be happy if I had been able to "have written" the damned thing a long time ago.

Question: What are the eras and setting(s) you choose for your crime fiction, and why?

Celil Oker: Today and Istanbul. Istanbul is a metropolis fitting very much to serve as the setting of a modern novel of crime fiction. Maybe not unlike the New York of the 40's or so. Wealth is accumulated and its distribution does not always follow legal routes. Solving some issues by mere force because of the indifference or slowness of law enforcement units is becoming more and more common or usual. That's heaven for crime novels.

Question: What's more difficult to write - crime fiction or other literary genres? How would you rate crime fiction in comparison to other genres?

Celil Oker: I see no difference. For me both are ways of story telling, the difficulties of plot, characterisation and setting are almost the same. I must add, readers of crime fiction are more keen to pick up errors in term of murder conspiricies.

Question: Do you have a favorite crime fiction sub-type?

Celil Oker: I am proud to be part of the hard-boiled genre. My sense of quality in crime fiction was formed by my early readings of that genre. Maybe it is so, because I do not know how to write in other types.

Question: What is your experience of German-language crime fiction, and what do you think of it?

Celil Okder: Since I do not speak German, I do not have direct access to German crime fiction. I did read Turkish translations of Jakob Arjouni with whom I feel a great deal of literary brotherhood. I try to follow Thomas Wörtche's articles from time to time, via very bad translations by the translation machines on the internet. What a pity!

Question: Describe your contact with German crime fiction writers.

Celil Oker: On several occasions of lesungs in Germany over the years, I have met socially with a number of them. Unfortunately, these meetings do not allow writers to enter in a professional or literary type of dialog. Time and most of the time, language barrier makes it impossible. Although he is not a German writer, Petros Markaris, who is well known in Germany is the writer I am proud to have the opportunity to get to know. When he was in Istanbul last month, I had the opportunity to lunch with him.

Question: How would you assess the treatment of crime fiction by book reviewers and book review publications?

Celil Oker: Both in Turkey and Germany, there are several critics who seem to have confined themselves specially to crime fiction. The times that crime ficton was not considered literature has gone by in both countries. For myself, I have greatly and pleasingly found that in most of the critics and reviews, they have understood what I am trying to do and acknowleged it. For that, I am grateful.

Question: Which crime fiction writers do you find overrated?

Celil Oker: None. I have made it a personal credo not to comment on any of my colleagues.

Question: Which crime fiction writers do you find underrated?

Celil Oker: None. I have made it a personal credo not to comment on any of my colleagues.

Question: Who do you write for?

Celil Oker: Mainly, I write as if I am going to read it. But as years have passed, gathering notions from the readers I have met from time to time, I have vaguely formed a group of fictional readers in my mind which give me advice, criticism, hints and horrors that I take seriously. That must be so, because I feel that I could not finish the 7th book because of my fear of them.

Question: What comes first for you when planning a new work? Plot? Character? Do you make notes? Where do you get your ideas?

Celil Oker: Since I have a main character in all my books, I just try to manage to develop the others. My wife has constantly criticised my that all my people talk alike. That is a big concern for me.
As I write, I open a lot of word pages. One is the synopsis page. I go back and forth in it to seek new twists and turns and to recap what has happened in the book so far. I have several pages for every character's physical descriptions. Another to record the number of words each chapter has. One other has the most important "to be done" notes to myself. It cames in handy when after the book has finished, as I edit the book, I check various details from that page. Of course, before I have started to write anything, I work on several ideas in a number of one man "brain storming" sessions.

Question: Where do you write? How do you feel about writing at the computer?

Celil Oker: At home, in my small study. When my son is visiting us, he gets the room, sleeps very late of course, so I carry my laptop to the kitchen. The computer is a gift of the writer's god, I can always go back and put something in someone's pocket when the need arises.

Question: How do you feel about sex in crime stories?

Celil Oker: I have no problem with sex anywhere. Sex in advertising, sex in TV, sex in newspapers, sex in fashion, sex in crime stories... The quality of anything, the way I feel it, can not be measured solely by the ingredients you put in it. The quality of the total structure is important. I have seen good porn, I have seen bad porn.

Question: What is your favorite weapon?

Celil Oker: Personaly, my mouth. I earn most of my living by talking. Talking to students, talking to workshop attendents, talking to conference listeners. I have put myself in situations merely by talking and saved myself from some again merely by talking. A weapon, in the first sense of the word, is something I can not stand. If a weapon appears in a room I am in, either the weapon leaves the room or I leave the room. Oh the other hand, when they were very young, I bought some toy guns to my boys, but seeing that I played with them more, my wife forbid them.

Question: Is murder absolutely necessary in crime fiction?

Celil Oker: I have some projects dealing with this question. If I am able to finish them, I will be more ready to answer this question with more authority.

Question: What's your favorite book?

Celil Oker: "The Sun Also Rises" by Hemingway. It tells of an impossible love at the same time letting us feel the aura of the times. Somehow it proves to be a very modern tale at the same time, after all those years.

Question: Your favorite book as a child?

Celil Oker: I had many. Most of them B type novels, comics and funny, encyclopedias.

Question: Who are your favorite crime fiction writers now?

Celil Oker: I can not state. Rule in questions before.

Question: What are you working on now?

Celil Oker: Wow. The hardest question. Am I working on something now? I would like to answer that I am working on my seventh Remzi Ünal story. In a way I am working on it. But the way I see it, working on something needs to get some results produced. All the deadlines given to myself and to my editor, some readers, many friends have flunked, all the writer tricks that I know have failed, I feel I would be lying if I say I am working on the seventh Remzi Ünal story.

Question: What's your favorite film?

Celil Oker: Casablanca. Hundred percent.

Question: What's your favorite drink?

Celil Oker: Well, water. If water had an intoxication effect, I would be the world's greater drinker.

Question: Your favorite dish?

Celil Oker: Another hard question. Since a month, I am on a very strict diet for health reasons. And it seems that I will not be able to eat any of my favorite dishes for a long time. So, I put a lot of vinegar into my salads these days.

Question: What is the significance of food and drink for you? Do you cook yourself?

Celil Oker: Sorry, as you might understand.

Question: Eating out: do you like to? What kind of restaurant do you choose?

Celil Oker: Sorry, as you might understand.

Question: What's your favorite article of clothing?

Celil Oker: A blue jean and sweaters. Luckily, teaching at a university allows you to wear the same stuff day after day without seeming ridiculus. But maybe I sometimes seem so. At least my wife is sure about that.

Question: Football (soccer): everybody's got an opinion! What's yours?

Celil Oker: I played as a goalkeeper in my high school and university days. With a pair of eyeglaces. I am somewhat short for a goalkeeper but my reading of the game and reflexes were okay. Nowadays, when I have problems getting to sleep, I fantasise I am the coach of Besiktas. You know, for the last two or three years, success for Besiktas became a matter of fantasy.

Question: What is your favorite country?

Celil Oker: I have seen Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Slovania and Turkey. The last one is my favorite because I know it in and out. I know its shortcomings, I know its potentials, I know its history, I know its geography, I know its people. I can find my way around in every square meter of it. Unfortunately, one lifetime is not enough to feel the same way with a second country.

Question: Your favorite city in Germany?

Celil Oker: I have been to several cities and towns in Germany. But since, on a reading tour you quickly move to another one without having the change to breathe the city or town in and out, I do not want to be unjust to others by choosing one with so limited experience. On the other hand, by a historical and cultural aspect, of course Berlin stands out for me. I certainly had strongs feeling when we just drove by the Berliner Ensamble building with Thomas.

Question: In what school subject(s) did you excel as a child? What was your worst grade, and why?

Celil Oker: I was an average student all the way. Clue: I enrolled my university in 1971 and my diploma carries the date 1979.

Question: What's your dream job?

Celil Oker: Serious answer apart from coaching Besiktas: I would like to read unsolicited manuscripts for a publishing house. I would read the work, write a short report on it. My one condition: I would not make any decision whether it should be published or not. To think of it, reading something and getting paid for it. Ultimate joy!

Question: Do you know why you've answered all these questions?

Celil Oker: Yes. I hoped that answering them would help me feel as a writer again. I must quote Juan Carlos Onetti: "I am not a writer except when I write."

This survey was completed without witnesses in December 2007.

© Gisela Lehmer-Kerkloh & Thomas Przybilka

Celil Oker
Celil Oker wurde 1952 in Kayseri geboren. Nach dem Besuch des Amerikanischen Gymnasiums in Tarsus studierte Celil Oker von 1971 bis 1979 Englische Sprache und Literatur an der Bosporus Universität von Istanbul. Er arbeitete als Journalist, Übersetzer und später als Verfasser diverser Beiträge für die"Enzyklopädie Berühmte Persönlichkeiten in der Türkei und in der Welt". Ab 1984 verdiente Celil Oker seinen Lebensunterhalt als Werbetexter, 1987 gründete er die Agentur "Reklamicilik". Daneben unterrichtete er an der Fakultät für Kommunikation an der Bilgi-Universität in Istanbul.
Seine ersten Kurzgeschichten erschienen ab 1980 in der Zeitschrift "Yarin". 1999 erschien sein erster Kriminalroman um den Privatermittler Remzi Ünal. Für diesen Kriminalroman (Schnee am Bosporus) erhielt er den ersten Preis des "Kaktus" - einer 1999 ins Leben gerufenen Auszeichnung für türkische Kriminalliteratur.

Homepage: - - -

Crime novels:
2000, Schnee am Bosporus, UT metro 181
2001, Foul am Bosporus, UT metro 210
2004, Letzter Akt am Bosporus, UT metro 313
2008, Dunkle Geschäfte am Bosporus, UT metro 407

oker-schnee-am-bosporus oker-foul-am-bosporus.jpg
oker-letzter-akt-am-bosporus oker-Dunkle-Geschaefte-am-Bosporus

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Die Befragenden:

Gisela Lehmer-Kerkloh rezensiert Kriminalliteratur. Sie ist Mitglied bei den Sisters in Crime, bei der GVM (Genootschap van Vlaamse Misdaadauteurs), sowie Amiga im Syndikat.
Bei den Alligatorpapieren veröffentlicht sie regelmäßig ihren "Krimi-Kurier" Letzte Buchveröffentlichung:
Siggi Baumeister oder: Eine Verfolgung quer durch die Eifel. Die Eifelkrimis des Jacques Berndorf.
84 S., 2001; EUR 10,50
NordPark Verlag

Thomas Przybilka verdient seinen Lebensunterhalt als Buchhändler. Er ist langjähriges Mitglied der "Autorengruppe Deutschsprachige Kriminalliteratur Das Syndikat". 1989 baute er das international bekannte "Bonner Krimi Archiv (Sekundärliteratur)" [BOKAS] auf. Bei den Alligatorpapieren veröffentlicht er regelmäßig seine "Krimi-Tipps zur Sekundärliteratur zum Krimi." Zahlreiche Publikationen zur Kriminalliteratur in Fachanthologien und -magazinen im In- und Ausland. Kriminalgeschichten in Deutschland, Bulgarien und Spanien. Letzte Buchveröffentlichung:
Siggi Baumeister oder: Eine Verfolgung quer durch die Eifel. Die Eifelkrimis des Jacques Berndorf.
84 S., 2001; EUR 10,50
NordPark Verlag

Die Befragungen von Gisela Lehmer-Kerkloh und Thomas Przybilka
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