Today I welcome Carmen Stefanescu to Readful Things so that she may share some of her thoughts on publishing, writing and her first full length novel, “Shadows of the Past.” Carmen is an amazing woman who has overcome much adversity to write and publish her book. She lives in Romania, but speaks fluent English. All around, she is a wonderful person and I am very proud to introduce her.
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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.
Teacher of English and German 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 dreamed 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. Poems first, and then prose. Both in English.
What first made you decide to write a book?
I have dreamed all my life to become a writer, my idol being Agatha Christie. I’ve been writing since I was a student. Satirical poems and short stories at that time, in my native tongue, Romanian, as you know I live in Romania, better known as Dracula’s country. All of the things I 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 me. I started publishing. Poems in English, first. And now long prose – novels. The trigger point for Shadows of the Past was a small article, in a Romanian newspaper, about a haunted mountain in England.
How has the publishing process been different than you expected when you first started?
I had no idea what to expect at first. The publishing process was a long road for me as everything was trial and error until I got a clear picture of what I had to do and how to do things in a proper way. And the fact that I finished the novel in two months but I got it published many, many years later was a bit of a shock.
Has marketing been more difficult than you would have imagined?
Absolutely. I thought that most of it is done by the publisher. I was wrong. Most is done by me. I work hard to find blogs willing to host book spotlights or to accept reviewing Shadows of the Past. I learned a lot along the way and still do. The positive part is the fact that I’ve made fabulous friends in the bloggers I met in the cyberspace while doing this search. The only thing that is a matter of dissatisfaction is that now I spend all my time in the advertising process, instead of writing.
Advice for other authors who are not located in the U.S.?
Follow your dream. Don’t be discouraged by rejections. They are something to be expected in the process of getting approval for your submission. Roll with the bitter punch of rejection and go on trying. That’s what I kept doing. Do your searching thoroughly and find the best solution for you. E-publishing and now self-publishing offer everyone, no matter where they live, a chance to see their work published.
You have written such a beautiful love story, what was the inspiration for this?
It was that article about a haunted mountain in England. The souls of two sinners, a nun and a priest who break their vows and elope, can’t find their rest. The tourists visiting the haunted area sometimes hear agonizing moans during the night. That was all. The moment I put down the newspaper I experienced a strong urge 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 told in detail. And thus I wrote this novel. On the other hand, I have an attraction for the Medieval Times and for tragically evolving characters.
Do you wish you would have done anything differently with your book?
Perhaps a better Neil character. I am not very satisfied with how I built him. My thoughts were focused on Genevieve and Anne. I am a strong feminist at heart.
What do you hope your readers get from Shadows of the Past, other than enjoyment?
That things in life are never only black or only white but we must always take what’s good from our short stay here, in this existence. Choices can be made and true love can really be found. I also want my readers to enjoy themselves while reading my books and, above all, to connect to my characters.
Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I am a great coffee, pets and role play games addict!
What are some of your favorite books/authors?
A difficult question because I have many favorite books/authors. I love thrillers as much as psychological paranormals or action packed romance books and mysteries. I don’t want to do wrong by naming one book or one author when there are so many I’ve read all along my life and which marked my existence. I have respect for each and every writer who enhanced my life and made me cry or laugh or dream, who enabled me to imagine different worlds, alternative realities, paths not chosen, cities not yet built. Catherine Cookson, Th. Hardy, Jeffrey Archer, M. H. Clark, Alexandre Dumas, Balzac, Somerset Maugham, Mihai Eminescu, Liviu Rebreanu, A. Tennyson, F. Forsyth, Stephen King, Agatha Christie. And many, many others.
If you could visit one place in the world where would you go and why?
I would escape to a paradise island. Somewhere where the temperature is never too cold or too hot. With no earthquakes or strong tempests! No dangerous insects and no predators – either four or two-legged.
Anything else you would like to say to your readers/ links etc. that you would like included.
A last piece of advice: Get quickly Shadows of the Past and read it! If not, you don’t know what you are missing! Ha-ha-ha! And stay tuned for my soon coming novel Dracula’s Mistress!
Thank you Ionia for hosting me. It was a lovely day for me.
Author, Carmen Stefanescu’s Site:
Trailer: Shadows of the Past
Find her on:
Buy Link: Wild Child Publishing
Buy Link: Barnes & Noble
**Thank you Carmen for the interview and just for being you!