Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Talking With Carmen Stefanescu

About Shadows of the Past:                 

Anne's relationship with her boyfriend Neil has disintegrated. After a two-year separation, they pack for a week vacation in hopes of reconciling. But fate has other plans for them.

The discovery of a bejeweled cross and ancient human bones opens a door to a new and frightening world--one where the ghost of a medieval nun named Genevieve will not let Anne rest. This new world threatens not only to ruin Anne and Neil's vacation but to end all hopes of reconciliation as Anne feels compelled to help free Genevieve's soul from its torment.

Can Anne save her relationship and help Genevieve find her eternal rest? The twists and turns in this paranormal tale keep the reader guessing up to the end and weave themselves together into a quest to rekindle love.

Welcome, Carmen! How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

Reading and writing have been an intricate part of my life. I’ve been writing since I was a student. Satirical poems and short stories at that time, in my native tongue, Romanian. Poems in English, later. I was awarded the Silver Cup for poetry in 2004 for my English poems.

Congratulations! That's terrific. Do you have another job outside of writing?

I am a teacher of English and German.

How did you create the plot for this book?

I accidentally read a small article in a Romanian newspaper about a haunted mountain in England. The souls of two sinners, a nun and a priest who broke their vows and eloped, can’t find their rest. The tourists visiting that area sometimes hear agonizing moans during the night. That was all. The moment I put down the newspaper I felt that I had to write about them. This is how The Ballad of the Priest and the Nun came to life, first. Later, I felt it was not enough. I felt Genevieve’s story must be presented in detail. As if the nun herself pleaded with me to tell the world about her fate. And thus I wrote this novel.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?

Yes, I did. The cover was made by the artists at Wild Child Publishing. I told them what I wanted to be on it, and they came with something I really approved. I am grateful for their work.

Sophie’s choice: Do you have a favorite of your characters?

Old Bertha/Jennifer

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Genevieve. I have an attraction for sad characters.

Are you like any of your characters? How so?

Many of my feminine characters have something from me. They impersonate my feelings, thoughts. Sometimes actions. It depends.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

Old Bertha/ Jennifer, the Wicca healer.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

One of Hevia’s instrumental songs.

Who are your favorite authors?

Thomas Hardy, Catherine Cookson, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, Balzac, Jane Austen, Jeffrey Archer. It may sound an odd mix of names but they are my favorites.

Not an odd mix--an eclectic one! Which author would you most like to invite to dinner and what would you fix me? I mean, him. Or her.

I’d invite you, indeed. And I’d fix you the traditional Romanian dishes: a- sarmale and b- mititei. This means for a - minced meat with rice and onion and thyme in rolled cabbage leaves and for b -a kind of very garlicky hamburgers. Yam, yam!

Sounds great! What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I’m just reading The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin. An eBook that deals with a serious matter still haunting our modern world – prejudice.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

During summer holidays I retreat to my “writing room” and loose myself in the imaginary realm of my characters and plots. I have to have complete silence and plenty of light. No multitasking. My creative side needs complete concentration.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

Weird: Romania--A very rich country with the poorest people of Europe.
A nice thing: Romania--beautiful landscape, friendly people.
One fact about my town Braila: birthplace of many national poets and novelists. (Perhaps it’s in the air.)

Must be! What three books have you read recently and would recommend?

Catherine Cookson – The Silent Lady, Jeffrey Archer - A Prisoner by Birth, M. H. Clark – Remember Me.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Reading or playing computer games.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Somewhere where there are no earthquakes, tsunami, storms, and where there’s no winter. Though I am born in January, I don’t enjoy cold weather and huge mountains of snow blocking everything around.

What are you working on now?

It’s something linked to Vlad the Imapaler’s life. Another paranormal. A historical one. So again, the Middle Ages, but this time in Romania. There are so many books on him, written by foreigners who focus on the “vampire” idea, and I think it’s time for one of his country people to show what historical, political and social circumstances led to his being nicknamed Dracula.

Cool! Best of luck with your work and thanks for stopping by to talk to us.

Carmen Stefanescu:

Carmen Stefanescu was born in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble - the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.

English and German teacher in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books.

She has dreamt all her life to become a writer, but many of the things she wrote during those years remained just drawer projects. The fall of the Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world meant a new beginning for her. She started publishing.

Since 2001, her poems have been successfully published, in the collection Muse Whispers vol.1 and Muse Whispers vol.2 by Midnight Edition Publication.

In 2004 she was awarded with the “International Poet of Merit Silver Award” by the  International Society of Poets.
The readers’ interest for her ballad, about the love between a young priest and a nun, published in 2004 by Midnight Edition, inspired Carmen Stefanescu to write a first novel Shadows of the Past.

Connect with Carmen:
Goodreads author page
Wild Child Publishing
Barnes & Noble