Meet My Future Turkish Sister-in-Law!
Guys, my little brother is getting married in Istanbul in September to the most beautiful, wonderful woman–and she’s Turkish! Her name is Begum (pronounced “Bay-Goom”) and we first met two years ago when I visited Turkey for a book tour shortly after she met my brother, Josiah. I’ll never forget how she waited in an incredibly long line at a bookstore, for nearly two hours, to say hi (see photo above). I felt so bad and would have totally stopped everything to have her bypass the line and come sit with me if I’d known she’d been there. Anyway, a funny memory that we’ll always laugh about. And now, we’re going to be sisters!
Begum is an architect in Istanbul who is kind, smart, sweet and an all-around catch (nice job, bro!). She’s in the midst of final wedding preparations, and my fiancé, Brandon, my brother Josh and my mom are all traveling over to Istanbul in September to attend the celebration. How cute is this adorable wedding invitation she designed:
Begum was kind enough to do this little interview with me. I know you’ll love her as much as I do already!
SARAH: It’s soooooo fun to be interviewing my future sister in law! When Josiah told me about you, and then when I met you, I was just so overjoyed that he found such a beautiful woman, inside and out. But I was also so excited that you were from Turkey! Can you tell us the really short version of how you guys met?
BEGUM: This is so exciting! If someone told me that the bestselling author Sarah Jio is going to be your sister-in-law and interview me, I would never ever believe them! This just gives me joy. Thank you for the fun time!
Josiah and I have an organic ‘how we met’ story. His friend had met my friend from Turkey before. We hang out in Kadıköy during their Istanbul visit after their Eqypt trip. His awesome energy affected me the very first time I met him. We got along so easily. He was so funny and kind. I really impressed him as soon as I showed my cat’s picture. I still sometimes think he loves my cat more than me! Haha!
SARAH: As you know, I am so fortunate to be a bestseller in Turkey. My Turkish readers have totally embraced me and I’m so grateful for all of their love and support. When Josiah told you about my writing and presence in Turkey, were you surprised?
BEGUM: That was a big surprise for me for sure. He told me that you are a well known author in Istanbul and asked me a good bookstore to get your book in Turkish. I was speechless when I saw how gorgeous you are after he showed me your picture. Then I checked your Instagram and realized that you are a rockstar in Istanbul. Turkey loves you!
SARAH: You are planning to make your home in the US with my brother, Josiah. Can you share how you are feeling about moving from your home country, and what you are most excited about in living in America?
BEGUM: I know it is a huge step to move another country. The hardest part that I won’t be able to spend more time with my parents and friends who live in Istanbul but I always feel like home in America. The best part is my soulmate lives there so I just can’t wait to have a life together there with Josiah. And I can drink La croix as much as I want. How awesome is that!
SARAH: Uh, awesome! I’m a fellow La Croix lover.
BEGUM: Haha. Besides that, there are lots of places to explore in America and I am so excited about it. I have plans to travel around to visit some cool destinations with Josiah.
SARAH: As you know, I’m coming to Turkey for your wedding this late summer, of course, and also am planning another trip in the fall with my publisher in Turkey. My last visit was such a whirlwind. What are three of your favorite places I should absolutely visit in Istanbul this year? Not tourist destinations, but rather your favorite cafe, bar, restaurant or park where you like to spend time?
BEGUM: It is hard to pick just three favorites! There are lots to see in İstanbul. Most of the tourist destinations are in European side so you should explore the Asian side of Istanbul this time. I live there and spend most of my time there.
The Kadıköy area always has a special place in my heart. Good drinks, good food, good music and also good people. I recommend that you experience the life there. There are nice cafes and bars and restaurants and cute shops around. You would love it!
I enjoy going to have some drinks with my friends at the bar called Arka Oda in Kadıköy. They have cool DJ performances too. It is also the place where Josiah gave me a first kiss. It was so romantic!
SARAH: Awww! Well, then I’m going to check that out, for sure!
BEGUM: If you want to taste great food with an awesome view, I recommend Chef Mezze. It’s actually in the European side near Taksim. The appetizers they serve will blow your mind! And I am sure you would love to take a walk at Moda shore in Kadıköy. It is a big park near the sea where people lay down on the grass and enjoy the sun.
SARAH: If you could give me any advice about what sorts of books/themes/topics that would really resonate with Turkish women right now (for my future novels) what would it be?
BEGUM: I think your books really inspire Turkish women. You write stories about strong and independent women who find a way out of some sort of hard conditions in life. They are powerful characters and Turkish women love to read their stories. They are stories that warm their hearts. Turkish women love romance and mystery, which you are good at combining! Also, I think they like to learn life and relationship lessons through the characters and discover themselves with them.
SARAH: I have to say, I’m a bit biased, but I think your fiancé (my little brother) is pretty rad. You know I used to change his diapers when he was a baby, right? Haha. Anyway, he is truly one of the most unique and awesome individuals on the planet, I think. And one of my favorite qualities about him is his undying loyalty to our mom. They say that boys grow up to be men who love their moms, but with Josiah, it’s the real deal, and then some. He has a special bond with my mom and always does special things to make her feel adored. Isn’t that so sweet? What qualities do you love most about my brother, your future husband?
BEGUM: Yes!! I love that quality about him as well. It is the one of the other great qualities of him that attracts me so much. I love how he talks about his mother, and I love how he has a wild and adventurous soul with a tender heart. When I am with him, I feel like there is nothing that I can’t do. He always courages me to try new things. I have my best version of myself when I am with Josiah. I’m so in love and always will be.
SARAH: OK, that brought me to tears! What a beautiful way to describe your love for my brother. [Pausing to dry my eyes over here.] OK, how has the wedding planning process gone for you? Have you felt stressed at all?
BEGUM: It was actually a stressful process, yes. There are lots of things to decide like the location for the ceremony, the dress, decorations, invitations etc. I am a really indecisive person so it was kind of painful, haha. But Josiah always comforts me with his positivity all the time. I am going to marry the man I love. I am so happy and feel blessed. We are going to have so much fun at our wedding with our families and friends. I just can’t wait for it.
SARAH: Yay! Tell us about your dress! What sorts of wedding dresses are popular in Turkey these days? Certain styles or designers? White or different colors?
BEGUM: I picked a very plain and elegant dress. I felt so beautiful in it. Most of the dress designs in Turkey are really princess like: big and shiny with lots of details. That’s not really my style, so it was a little hard for me to find one that I really like. Here, there is glitter, crystals and lace everywhere! I think a lot of Turkish women in general like to have all eyes on them on their wedding days, but some, like me, prefer more simple designs. White, bone color or light beige are common colors for wedding dresses in Turkey. They prefer much more colourful dresses for their engagement parties.
Thank you, Begum! I can’t wait to celebrate with you and Josiah in September and welcome you to our family.