Don’t Write Alone | Interviews

“I wanted to convey that conflict of balancing the expectations of two different cultures”: A Conversation with Mina Seçkin

“What would it look like for a person—one who is a disaffected millennial—to look for her soul in her body? That’s the question I wanted to write toward.”

The Four Humors

The Four Humors

Alicia Kroell: When I first read your manuscript, I was immediately struck by the language, which is at once tense and strange and very, well, humorous. I want to start with a question that I asked when we first met—how did you first come across the humors, and how did they become a part of this novel?

Lapham’s Quarterly .



AK: I have a real soft spot for grief works, especially ones that show grief as an all-consuming and disorienting experience, so this was naturally one part of that really resonated with me when it came in on submission. I’m curious about what the submission process was like for you. Were you looking for editors who connected with the book in any particular way?

The Four Humors for

AK: You did a lot of preparatory research for the book, gathering information about the four-humors theory of medicine as well as political upheavals in Turkey. What was your research process like, and how did you work your findings into the novel?


AK: Being open about my limited knowledge of Turkey’s history and politics, and doing a fair amount of googling, felt like an important step in my own editorial process. You were also quite generous with filling me in on essential details. I think it’s natural for there to be some gaps in understanding—the author has the clearest sense of what context they are bringing to the novel, especially what’s left off the page. I was wondering if you have any advice for writers when it comes to filling in those gaps with their editor.

AK: We did two significant rounds of edits after acquisition, but oftentimes authors work on several drafts with their agent before the manuscript is sent out on submission, not to mention drafts before they query agents. How long did it take you to write ?

The Four Humors

AK: It’s a coincidence that I acquired your book just before the start of the pandemic—I think you were one of the last people I had a drink with before everything shut down in New York! And just a few months into the pandemic, we saw a nationwide social uprising sparked by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Working on the book during the day and then going to protests in the evening, we both felt newly sensitive to the political threads running through your novel. Can you talk a little bit about how this influenced your revision process?

The Four Humors

The Four Humors

AK: So much of the novel is about Sibel digging into her own family history. There are many secrets to uncover, stories that haven’t been told. I was so impressed with the specificity you brought to the stories of Sibel’s family members and how naturally they seemed to nest into the overarching narrative. With this in mind, how did you approach the structure of ?


AK: During one of our calls, the show came up as a millennial Muslim story and one that might not sit as well with older generations—as real as it may be! Tonally, is this wonderful balance of a disaffected millennial’s sentimentality and a genuinely tender family story. Did you set out to hit a certain sweet spot when writing the book?


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AK: Now that the book is out in the world, do you find yourself missing the writing or editorial process at all?

The Four HumorsThe Four Humors