An Interview with Carmen Stefanescu: Author & Teacher
Sylvia: Welcome Carmen. Please give our readers an introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Carmen: I am Carmen Stefanescu and I was born and currently reside in Romania, an eastern European country. This is the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula; where there was 50 years of communist dictatorship. A country whereas, 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 my native country, and mother of two daughters, I survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books. Reading them at that time. Later writing them.
I have dreamed all my life to become a writer, but many 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, the Internet especially, meant a new beginning for me. I started publishing.
Since 2001, Midnight Edition Publication has published my poems in the collection Muse Whispers vol.1 and Muse Whispers vol.2. The readers’ interest for my ballad, about the love between a young priest and a nun, published in 2004 by Midnight Edition, inspired me to write my first novel “Shadows of the Past.”
Sylvia: What inspired you to write your first book?
Carmen: 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 thought it was not enough. I felt Genevieve’s story must be presented in detail. And thus, Shadows of the Past, paranormal/light romance/light historical/light horror – a bit for everyone – saw the light of the computer screen.
Sylvia: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Carmen: Truelove transcends time and hardships; there is karmic retribution and that the actions that you receive back in life may be the result of your actions from a previous life, meaning that we speak of karmic retribution.
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Carmen: 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. And above all, read, write, read and write.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Carmen: I’m using various techniques. The present interview is proof to my words. I am getting book tours and reviews. I am involved in author exchange groups as well as other groups such as; Marketing For Romance Writers, Goodreads, Book Blogs, Coffee Time Romance and so on. I am member of Twitter, Triberr and Pinterest. I seek beta readers from my market before submitting to publishers. And so I have successfully built a stable of pre-publication beta readers who offer their insights.
Sylvia: Of all your marketing strategies, do you find one that works better than the others?
Carmen: Well, guest posts and interviews seemed to have given a nudge to sales, though, it goes very slow. I understand it, as this is my debut novel. I am just a name in an ocean of names and books. All my activity will, hopefully, bring visibility to me for the coming books.
Sylvia: Author exchange groups sound interesting. How does this type of group support your efforts?
Carmen: I joined Marketing For Romance Writers yahoo group (MFRW) and its Triberr group. In the yahoo group I receive, daily, emails where, among other info, authors of the group let the others know about opportunities for promo. And I write to the author, if she has something in my line of writing, to request a date for promo and offer to do the same for her. So I post a promo on my blog for an author, she, in exchange places one promo (guest post, interview, book spotlight) for me. I think this also brings visibility to me, as they are authors from all over USA and England and Australia. Mainly English speaking countries, as I am the only Romanian in the group as far as I see.
In a similar way, I am a member of another group: http://reviewsrus.forumotion.com
Here, the members read books and write reviews. This means we exchange books and write reviews, but, there is a great rule. We cannever read and write for each other like above. It’s not allowed, as it would be dishonest. Reviews seem to be important too for an author. I’ve received 58 up to now for Shadows of the Past.
Sylvia: Great information! Why should we buy your book?
Carmen: A tough question.Shadows of the Past is the kind of love story that is timeless and makes you feel warm inside. According to the words of many reviewers, “Shadows of the Past” is a “truly compelling story about loss and grief, mysteries that go back to Medieval Times and dark powers that push people to commit unspeakable crimes. A cursed forest, demons, witchcraft, strange rituals and a forbidden love… all these elements come together to build a suspenseful, beautifully written paranormal/ romance novel that will keep you glued to the pages. The universe is full of magic and superstitions, while the characters are capable of love, hatred, sin, murder and repentance.”
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Carmen: 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 and ballpoint pens. Also, sometimes, soft background music helps my muse.
Sylvia: What projects are you currently working on?
Carmen: Except Shadows of the Past, my paranormal romance released in 2012 by Wild Child Publishing, USA, I have finished two other novels. Both paranormal. One historical – Dracula’s Mistress, (Big grin). Someone living in Dracula’s country can’t stand the temptation to write a book on this topic. Anyway, this one goes against the grain. You’ll have to wait a bit, though, till its release. I signed the contract with the same publishing house Wild Child Publishing for Shadows of the Past as well as a paranormal mystery.
Sylvia: Why don’t you write and publish in your language, Romanian, and your country?
Carmen: As a teacher of English, and passionate about literature, I found it a challenge writing in English and finding my way to publication abroad. No publisher would have published Shadows of the Past, this genre, in another language in my own country. And I didn’t want to follow the path of self-publishing, a much convenient and perhaps easier one in some respects. I wanted the opinion of professionals regarding my writing. It seems it has, as a professional publisher accepted it, even if it’s a small press.
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Carmen: People are all fascinated by the mysterious and forbidden. It’s like it’s programmed into our very nature. Remember when you were a child, and someone told you NOT to do something? From that point on, you could think about little else, right? Lust is also one of the core human emotions. Thus, my power word, in fact there are two, can be defined as: FORBIDDEN LOVE
Sylvia: Thank you Carmen. Please share your social media and book contact information.
Carmen: Thank you for hosting me today! I really appreciate it.
- Blog: http://shadowspastmystery.blogspot.ro/
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carmen-Stefanescu-Books/499245716760283
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Carmen_Books
- Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/carmens007/
- Google+: https://plus.google.com/117216040843648957646/posts
- Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624397.Carmen_Stefanescu
- Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Carmen-Stefanescu/e/B00APVDGAA/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1