Liz Boltons interviews Ozgur Uyanik about his debut novel Conception published with Fairlight Books in July 2020.
Succeeding in two parallel careers simultaneously is a challenge for even the most ambitious of writers, but to do so in a foreign language is doubly daunting. But that is what author, screenwriter, and award-winning filmmaker Ozgur Uyanik has achieved with his debut novel Conception.
Turkish by birth, Uyanik’s family emigrated to the UK when he was a child. Despite having spent most of his life in this country he is bilingual and considers his Turkish descent and its cultural heritage to be a significant influence in his writing. He recently penned an essay about this topic in an anthology he helped to edit: Just So You Know – Essays of Experience (Parthian Books, out in August 2020).
Conception, described as “the journey of a sociopath who will do whatever it takes to get ahead: a dark comedy exploring who and what determines the value of art”, features as its protagonist a cynical and egotistical young Turkish filmmaker who resorts to a shocking interpretation of art in an attempt to achieve the rewards he believes he deserves. Uyanik’s astringent verbal flair and his love of the English language is abundantly evident in the novel and he was flattered by my likening the character of his protagonist to Edward St. Aubyn’s drug-fuelled Patrick Melrose, although he had not read the novels.
Questioned about whether his sideways move to novel writing was due to a frustration, shared with his protagonist (with whom he has a similar background), at the lack of control in the filmmaking process, he responded:
“[Filmmaking and novel writing] are such different disciplines and I’m doing both, as many others do also. In authoring a novel you have the sort of control and freedom a filmmaker can only dream about but I don’t know if the novel writing has affected the way I go about writing a feature film script or vice versa—not yet on a conscious level anyway.”
“With any creative enterprise that relies on a marketplace for its consumption, like film, “total control” is a myth so getting frustrated about it is counterproductive (although it) takes a while to learn that).”
I was interested to hear about his writing process and asked him whether he had plotted the novel before writing it. Uyanik responded that although he had not worked on the plot in advance of writing, the character had taken over the project once he had been identified,
“My protagonist is a fictional character; I guess all writers have to mine their dark sides for material. Mind you, it took a lot of work to find him and Nabokov’s analogy of the bird collecting material to build its nest really rings true. You go about putting stuff together but you don’t have a clue where it is going until some part of your subconscious pops up and you have your eureka moment […]”.
He confirmed he was currently working on a second novel, The Notetaker – a Revenge, as well as developing several feature film projects as writer-director with support from Ffilm Cyrmu Wales and the BFI Network. Remarkably, he is also currently a PhD candidate in Creative and Critical Writing at Cardiff University.
Uyanik is clearly an industrious and ambitious creative force. I have no doubt we will be hearing a great deal about him in the future.
For more information on Ozgur Uyanik and to buy a copy of Conception click here.