When I lived in Istanbul for a year, I was drawn back to certain places again and again because of the haunting mood which hung over them, always hinting of mysterious secrets and unexpected events.
It is hardly a surprise that they inspired many of the scenes in Evil Eye. I let their mood inspire its dark magic, the secrets that unfold gradually like the petals of a flower, and the exciting array of characters who together conjure up the unique people of Istanbul.
These are my favourite places.
This underground cistern supplied Istanbul with fresh drinking water for centuries. It was thrown together in haste, randomly recycling masonry from a huge variety of older buildings which, in their jumbled way, tell the story of the city and its people over three millennia.
In this picture the head of Medusa, once a fierce guardian of a Greek temple against the evil eye, has been used upside-down as the base for a pillar from a Roman covered market.
Istanbul’s sultan, military chiefs, harem and royal family were once housed here, along with the eunch civil service who administered the Ottoman Empire. When Celeste visits the palace she drifts off into a dream and gets lost, thinking about the relationships between mothers and their children which is starting to complicate her life in Istanbul…
This is a room in the harem where Celeste meets a man who will change the course of events for her and the little orphan she loves.
The sultan’s throne room, known as the Royal Sofa.
The favourites’ quarters in Topkapi Palace, where the sultan’s preferred members of the harem lodged. For me, it had the atmosphere of a girls’ boarding school even though it had long been empty!
The Grand Bazaar
I got lost every time I went to this astonishing market, and Celeste does too. The colours, sounds and smells are so intense and so overwhelming to the senses it is difficult to remain in control. It leads her into danger which ultimately changes the course of everything; sometimes getting the answers we seek can be frightening and dangerous!
This fortress was thrown up in an incredible four months, to protect Istanbul from invasion.
It overlooks the entire Bosphorus and the city of Istanbul on two continents, Europe and Asia. I used to love the bracing fresh air and the paradoxical sense of separation and unity across the two continents.
In Evil Eye, Celeste likes to come here to try to unite her own internal conflicts.
The Egyptian Bazaar
Istanbul’s spice market is smaller than the Grand Bazaar and sells nothing but food. The perfume is invigorating and full of excitement.
Celeste takes her favourite orphan here on a secret outing. An orphan herself, it is on this day that she forms an affection for the lonely child which is so strong it even leads her into irrational and dangerous situations.
This European-style palace on the shores of the Bosphorus was enchanting and full of magican vistas throughout the rooms and the gardens.
This elegant district of Istanbul, with its historic wooden houses, is where Celeste lodges with the rude, exasperating and yet confoundingly generous Leman.
The Blue Mosque
EVIL EYE by Veronica Di Grigoli
Freshly graduated and orphaned at the same time, day-dreamy Celeste is hypnotised by the ethereal mosques and dazzling bazaars of Istanbul as an escape from all that hurts her. Yet running away from her problems only leads her into new ones.
Her students at the swanky language school seem more interested in their manicures than her English lessons. The morose caretaker of the orphanage where she volunteers stares at her boys like a vulture sizing up its next meal.
Worst of all, her landlady lets slip sinister comments that don’t make sense, leaves spine-chilling mystic charms around the house, and puts magic spells in places she should not be going.
When Celeste’s favourite orphan vanishes, she embarks on a frantic search through crowded bazaars and dangerous alleys, desperate to find one small boy lost in a city of ten million. But can innocent Celeste save the child, and herself, before someone destroys them?