An Interview with Rodica Mihalis: Author, Speaker, Translator & Entrepreneur
Sylvia: Welcome Rodica. Please give our readers a brief introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Rodica: Hi Sylvia. I was born, raised and educated in communist Romania and after working as a translator at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest for eight years, I defected to the United States in the 1980s. Once in the land of promise and freedom I hoped everything would be easy, but I was wrong.
My memoir, a fast-paced story, is the journey of the many twists and turns I personally experienced, survived, and which made me stronger. It is a story about the human spirit which triumphs over hardships; a book about what we, as the human race have in common: the core of our emotions, and not about what sets us apart.
As Mark Stein, the author of the New York Times bestselling book, How the States Got Their Shapes, says, “Rodica tells an extraordinary story that leads from places very unlike ours to here- a place where such extraordinary stories are not extraordinary. This nation was founded by men and women who crossed an ocean of differences for opportunity and a dream, and this book gives us a tap on the heart, reminding us that such people still come.”
Sylvia: Rodica, you have such an interesting past. What one thing can you share with us about living in Romania? When you decided to defect, how were you able to do it without getting caught? Were there scary moments for you?
Rodica: The first part of The Gypsy Saw Two Lives details my life in Romania. In short, Romania is a beautiful country with wonderful people which at the time I defected, in 1981, were under communist ruling. Ceausescu, the then President of Romania, a tyrant, was executed during the Romanian Revolution of 1989. His execution, on Christmas Day, 1989 makes it even more symbolic! The fall of communism taught me to ‘never say never’ and that everything is possible. The process of defecting through Germany is also described in detail in my book. In short, yes, there were many scary moments and to describe it in a few words; to be suspended between two countries, not knowing if America would welcome me, but being unable to go back to Romania, was the most terrifying of all!
Rodica: The Gypsy Saw Two Lives is in many ways the result of a life-time of work. It is a very sincere memoir which tells it as it is, no matter how painful.
I was inspired to write this book first many years ago, when I wanted to share with the world the real face of communism. Years went by and twenty years later, the book expanded to life in America as well and to a much richer life, in which many more lessons could be learned.
There are several messages I hope the readers will grasp. Of course, the message about what life under communism was really like, first hand. Also, a newer message, about us as humans, as people who have a core of feelings regardless of who we are, when we came to America or how rich or poor we are. We all feel the same, love, hate, hope. I hope to take the readers to a deeper level of understanding, not only of a different culture, but also of the universal human emotions that are similar for all.
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Rodica: Advice for other writers. I am a new writer myself. I could share what I did. In December of 2010 I broke my ankle and I was unable to walk. I was confined to bed for two months and I started to blog and organize the book I started 20 years before. The blog became very popular and after it reached over 2,450 viewers, I got a contract and this is how from a blog, I wrote a book. I must mention that I wrote several blogs, but only this blog was so successful. I do not know why.
Sylvia: Very interesting Rodica. This is a great testament to other women who write blogs that they to can Why should we buy your book?
Rodica: The people who read it so far gave it excellent reviews on Amazon. I like to believe it is a well written book with a good message. It gives the readers a perspective on other cultures and political systems, but at the same time it resonates with what is human in all of us. I was told once people started to read, they couldn’t put it down. I hope so many strangers were not just polite to me.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Rodica: In all honesty, I wrote this book confined to bed with a broken ankle.
Sylvia: Oh wow, you broke your ankle? How did that happen?
Rodica: I had just moved near Harrisburg and went to the Post Office. I was unaware the sidewalk was in terrible disrepair and I fell. A boring experience, but the fact that I was immobile in a new place made me start blogging on Word Press and eventually, my blog, Memoirs from My Two Lives, became The Gypsy Saw Two Lives. God made me find the time to finish my book!
Sylvia: What projects are you currently working on?
Rodica: I am currently blogging about my new puppy, Lola. www.lifewithbblola.wordpress.com . The ‘BB’ stands for beautiful and brilliant. I love photography and the blog has many pictures of my beloved pets.
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Rodica: My power word is not a word, it’s a sentence: WHAT I FOCUS ON GROWS. I make an effort to focus on positive actions and have positive influences in my life.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Rodica: The Gypsy Saw Two Lives is published on demand by Strategic Book Publishing. My personal experience is that I personally organized all my promotional events: local book signings, web interviews, postings on social networks. Strategic listed my book on several channels of distribution, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I found it very helpful that the book is now available in both paper and Kindle / epub and also that people could go on Amazon and read for free a few chapters of the book.
Sylvia: Rodica, thank you! Please share your contact information