Today's visitor comes with a unique history and from a very famous place - especially to paranormal fans. But I'm going to let her tell you all about it. :)
Welcome, Carmen Stefanescu! How do you take your coffee?
CARMEN: Black and hot!
Ally: That's easy. While I pour, please tell our readers about yourself, and include something not in your normal bio.
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.
Something unique that isn't in the bio – I am already retired but I’m reluctant to share it with people. " A granny writing romance? Hm," they will say frowning. (Ally note: Oh, I don't think you need to worry. Love is universal...all cultures, all ages. :))
CARMEN: If you go outside in the street, in the States, and ask at random, ordinary people passing by "Have you heard about Romania ", you will be, most often, met by frowned eyebrows, confused looks or shrugging the shoulders. Or even answers like: "Well, I don't know... is it South America... or maybe Africa...."
Ask the same people "Have you heard about Dracula's country?" A large smile/grin will lighten the face of your interlocutor. "Oh, Dracula. Yes, yes, I heard about it. Somewhere in Europe. Transylvania. Vampires."
So, I am glad to live in a country known to everyone, be it only because it’s linked to a name bearing negative connotations. Romania is an Eastern European country that was under the heavy Iron Curtain before 1989. A land that is blessed with all forms of relief: mountains, plains, sea, the UNESCO protected Danube Delta and wild, beautiful landscapes. Worth visiting, trust me. I also may say I lived history, as I witnessed the change from one social system to another, in 1989, at the fall of dictatorship.
Ally: I know you write both adult and young adult fiction. How did you select YA as a genre you wanted to write? Did someone or a certain book inspire you?
CARMEN: I wouldn’t say it was something I purposefully did. And I don’t write with a specific audience in my mind. If you write for one specific audience, you’re going to tune out others who might actually be interested in reading your book. Danielle Steele once said, “Write what you write. What happens next is up to the public.” In fact, when I wrote Shadows of the Past I had no idea what YA meant. Trust me. It was a new experience for me as well as a challange. There are no such things as literary agents or editors for authors in my country. I learned everything the hard way. By trial and error. My novels are meant to be read by adults but can surely be read by young adults, too, as all romance is at the sweet level.
Ally: I see the lines blurring between YA and adult fiction every day. What do you believe are the defining elements?
CARMEN: Can’t really answer this. Trends are changing all the time. What people considered as YA in the 60s or 80s may be considered as teen fiction nowadays. I can’t really agree with just following, like herd, a trend. Why shouldn’t I write something and set the trend instead of following others? Why shouldn’t I write what I like to write – paranormal in my case- and make it as compelling as I can make it? Set the trend instead of following it.
Ally: When and where do you find time to write? Special place? Certain hours?
During the summer holidays, I retreat to my “writing room” and lose myself in the imaginary realm of my characters and plots. I like to have everything handy: paper, pencils, markers, ballpoint pens. Also, sometimes, background music, either classical or pop. I always write longhand. My first drafts are longhand.
Ally: Try these quick answer questions:
- a. last movie you watched: A Place to Call Home, an Australian series. It explores with real sophistication Nostalgia, a potent sentiment, one that transcends even the most stubborn cringers.
- b. favorite childhood book: One Thousand and One Nights. It fascinated me. I was so happy Seherezada could postpone her punishment.
- c. do you have pets? Oh, yes. I admit I am guilty! Several cats: Mimi, Chipy, Blackie, Fifi and Pitzy. No dog for the moment as, unfortunately, our faithful dog, Jack, died last December. We miss him so much and I simply can’t find in myself the will to replace him.
- d. an item on your bucket list: To read ALL the books I own in the three languages I speak: Romanian, English and German
- e. if you could visit any time and place in history, where would it be? Medieval Britain, perhaps Elizabethan period. An age when culture flourished and people lived more peaceful life, even though they missed the technological devices we own today.
CARMEN: Thank you for hosting me today, Ally! I really appreciate it.
Ally: My pleasure. Now it's time to take a look at your book...
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?
A touching, compelling story of tragedy, loss and the power of endless love and good magic.
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.
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing
Genre: paranormal/sweet romance/light horror
You tube trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LmY-9yDl5s
Wild Child Publishing: http://www.wildchildpublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=84&products_id=410
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadows-of-the-past-carmen-stefanescu/1113910162?ean=2940015715026