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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 makes you proud to be a writer from Romania ? I feel proud to be a published author representing what most people know better as Dracula’s Country, Romania, an Eastern European country that gained its freedom in 1989 after the fall of Ceausescu’s dictatorship. As a teacher of English for so many years, I felt it easy to express my thoughts and feelings in English. I started with poems. They met acceptance and were published abroad. I turned then to writing longer prose. But as things regarding publishing are rather different in Romania I had to find opportunities for acceptance and release of my novels abroad. I didn’t want to go self-publishing. I wanted to know, and this could be told only by a professional editor, if my writing had any value. It appears it has.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I grew up reading classical literature and detective stories. An eclectic mix. As a teenager I dreamed to become a writer like Agatha Christie. Later I admired Somerset Maugham and Thomas Hardy. Catherine Cookson and Stephen King. I think these are my "gurus" in a way of speaking.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? After my poems were selected for publication by abroad publishers, in 2001.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? I am and will always be an avid reader. As an only child my major past time was reading, a passion inculcated in me by my family. My university education in the field of literature further enhanced my creativity.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? It depends. Shadows of the Past was a last moment decision. A bad one, as I realized later. Take my advice and Google the title of your book before submitting it to a publisher. I had the unpleasant surprise to find more than 30 books with the same title. Too late for any change. I won’t repeat the mistake.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? Paranormal. I am fond of ghosts, reincarnation, past lives and karmic retribution. Not vampires, even if I live in Dracula's country. I believe that our soul is immortal. Should it be my fear of the eternity of nothingness? May be! I can't really say.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? A small article, in a Romanian newspaper, about a haunted mountain in England caught my eye several years ago. 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.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? Well, I think it was the moment my editor, Shawn, praised the work I did, at her request, on the manuscript.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I didn't expect my paranormal novel, Shadows of the Past, would ruffle so many feathers and trigger offended remarks from some readers. On the one hand, there are people accusing me of trying to drive people away from faith, as the story is focused on a girl that goes to a monastery and then falls in love with the wrong person. Reading such comments, I simply had to look and check the calendar date. I am stunned to read this kind of remarks in the twenty-first century. Luckily I don't live in the Middle Ages. They would have taken me to be burned at the stake, very likely.
On the other hand, there are others who object, and say God and church are mentioned too many times in the story, and consider it a pitch on religion to attract people to the church. No kidding, I thought. In chapters taking place in an abbey, in Medieval England, what do you think the dwellers had talked about?
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? The positive feed back coming from most readers. The fact they say they empathize with the characters and they consider Shadows of the Past as not an ordinary paranormal romance. Nothing makes me happier than someone saying my characters felt like friends – or that they laughed or cried with my characters along the way.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? I can’t really call it as a negative experience, yet, it’s something that bothered me at first -marketing the book. The only thing that is a matter of dissatisfaction is that now I spend most of my time in the advertising process, instead of writing.But I realized it can’t be helped if you want to make the book known to readers.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Believe in what you do and keep writing. Do it for the love of it not for the money.
Who is your favorite author and why? I always dreamed to be a writer like Agatha Christie. I also came to love the writing of many authors along the years. The great classics brought another perspective on life in my teenage years. As a student I read voraciously and as an adult I continued doing it. 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. Coming back to the answer, I will name some of my favorite authors, even if it means not mentioning other many, many ones: Stephen King, Thomas Hardy, Mihai Eminescu, Catherine Cookson, Mary Higgins Clark, A. Tennyson, Liviu Rebreanu, Jeffrey Archer, H. Balzac, Somerset Maugham, F. Forsyth, Jane Austen, Ch. Bronte, Th. Dreiser, and John Steinbeck. And many more!
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? I signed the contract with the same publisher for a paranormal historical Dracula’s Mistress. It is at the edits stage for the moment. And I submitted a paranormal mystery and am waiting to see if it is accepted or not.
Anne's relationship with her boyfriend Neil has disintegrated. After a two-year separation, they packs 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? Or will evil win again?