Today we’re pleased to welcome Carmen Stefanescu to the 20QS spotlight.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi, everyone! I am glad to be here. I’m Carmen Stefanescu and come all the way from Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula. I am a teacher of English and German and, lately, a novelist. I live in my native town, Braila, with my husband and our four-legged friends–several cats and Emma, a big spoiled dog. I have two grown-up daughters and a grandson. My hobbies are reading, writing, and playing computer games. Have I mentioned reading?
Though I started my blog for my novel Shadows of the Past, I also like to help other authors promote their books. I think there’s enough room for all of us under the sun, and each one of us has his/her readers. Readers can also learn more about my country by reading the posts under the title Mysterious Romania. Authors, both aspiring and established, can find useful resources. I have an extensive list with blogs who offer opportunities for free review/promo.
Magic, reincarnation, romance, and horror collide in my cross-genre paranormal, Shadows of the Past. It was released in 2012 by Wild Child Publishing, USA, which for me, a non-native English speaker, living in a country where English is taught in schools as a foreign language, is a great accomplishment.
Shadows of the Past is the story of two young women, Genevieve and Anne. Jumping from past to present and back, the story focuses on the lows and highs of the two, alternatively revealing the hardships, passion, truth, or betrayal they meet. Their destinies weave together, although they live in different epochs. It is, in the opinion of many reviewers, a touching, compelling story of tragedy, loss, and the power of endless love and good magic.
3. Please share a little about your previous books (if you have previous books)
Shadows of the Past is my debut novel.
4. Have you always written in the romance genre? If not, what else have you written?
I started writing poetry. My poems are mostly on nature and life. Many of the things I wrote before ’89 remained just drawer projects, because just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation, or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble–the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.
5. What or who inspired you to be a writer?
I’ve always dreamed to be a writer, my lodestar being Agatha Christie. Writing started for me as more of a compulsion than a decision. The fall of Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world meant a new beginning for me. Things started to change, a bit. Information came on various channels. The Internet became available for me, too, which meant the opening of a door to a new world. And I started on the steep, unknown, but much dreamed of, publishing path. Poems first, and then prose. Both in English.
6. Where in the world are you?
I live, as I said above, in Eastern Europe, in Romania. A country that was under the chilling shadow of the Iron Curtain, and changed the social system in ’89 with the fall of Ceausescu’s dictatorship. I can say I lived history.
7. What do you love best about being a writer?
The positive feedback from people who said they could relate to the characters and that they enjoyed the story. It’s the real satisfaction of any author, I think.
I should also mention the amazing people out there that do reviews, interviews, author spotlight, and help authors promote books without getting a dime for their efforts.
8. What’s the biggest challenge being a writer?
I must say that not the writing process proper is challenging, but what comes after it, I mean the marketing stage. This gives me headaches.
9. What’s your favorite romance trope?
I can’t limit to only one. In Shadows of the Past, I can enumerate three–forbidden love, redemption, and reunion.
10. What’s your typical writing day like?
After exercising the housely duties and taking care of our four-legged friends–three cats and a dog–I go to my “writing room” and re-read what I wrote the previous day, make changes if necessary, and then continue my story. I tried to set a daily writing goal but, to tell you the truth, I realized I write better without one. I don’t like patterns and being forced to follow a predefined one.
11. Where do you usually write?
I have my “muses’ den” in a room where there’s no distraction (TV or PC), except the shelves stuffed with wonderful books, in all three languages I speak, and dictionaries. (I’m attaching a picture my husband took today.) I like to have everything handy: notebooks, pens, pencils. I write the first draft longhand. Yes, yes, I know it may sound old fashioned, but that’s me. Then I take everything to the PC.
12. When you’re writing, is it coffee, tea, soda, or water?
I’m a coffee addict. Black, hot, and several cups a day. Can’t seem to start working without it. Naughty me!
13. Do you have other creative outlets? If so, what?
I’d have liked to play the piano or guitar but never did it. So I just listen to others doing it.
14. What books are you reading now?
I’ve finished reading Prisoner by Birth by Jeffrey Archer, a contemporary retelling of Alexander Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo. Now, I’m reading one of Catherine Cookson’s novels, The Silent Lady. I admire this author who recognizes the inevitability of fate. I read most of her novels.
15. Name three of your favorite television shows.
“Downton Abbey”–absolutely one of the most rewarding and richly satisfying shows from Great Britain that I have come along in recent years;
“The Event”–tackling a theme so dear to me–extraterrestrial life;
“24,” in which Jack Bauer, director of field ops for the counter-terrorist unit of Los Angeles, races against the clock to subvert terrorist plots and save his nation from ultimate disaster.
16. If you could have dinner with any author–living or dead–who would it be and what would be on the menu?
Agatha Christie or Mary Higgins Clark. I would invite them to sample something from the Romanian cuisine–Sarmale–minced meat with rice and spices, rolled in pickled cabbage leaves and cooked in the oven. Yum!
17. If you couldn’t be an author, what other job would you choose?
I’m not a professional writer, I’m a teacher. I mean, I have no dream of living from my writing. However, had I been 20 years younger in 1989, when things took a turn in Romania, I would have liked to be an IT specialist. Computers fascinate me.
18. What are you working on next?
My next novel, Dracula’s Mistress, is a paranormal novel, a historical one this time. As an inhabitant of his native places, I couldn’t resist the temptation to write about him. The main focus is on Vlad III Basarab. It highlights the historical character and shows why he came to be considered an infamous creature of the night. (By the way, I don’t like vampire stories.)
I think that my book brings a fresh approach, maybe an exotic one, to this controversial, historical character, Vlad the Impaler, who has transcended culture, language, and generations to become the legendary Dracula, a tragic, night-dwelling specter. Dracula, the infamous creature, one of the most terrifying characters ever created in literature.
I know that there are many novels depicting him as the wicked vampire. All are written by foreigners. So, why not a novel written by one of his country people? I dare say that my novel goes against the grain. But you’ll have to read it to judge if I am right. I already signed the contract with the same publishing house, Wild Child Publishing. Hopefully, it will be released by the end of 2015.
19. Anything else you’d like to share?
This is a trailer I made for Shadows of the Past: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LmY-9yDl5s
20. How can people find out more about you?
People can stalk me here:
Thank you for hosting me today! I really appreciate the exposure from this interview. If you allow me, here’s a last piece of advice to the readers of your site: Get quickly and read it! If not, you don’t know what you are missing! Ha-ha-ha!
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