Today it is a great privilege for me to be able to welcome the author Camelia Miron Skiba to my blog. When asked, Camelia describes herself as:
I'm a dreamer
I’m a sinner
I love my books
I conjure hooks
And heroes with good looks
Romance is my guilty pleasure
Taking me to places with new decor
Come join me if you dare
I promise not to bore
If you like to read my stories
Pray my husband continues snorin’
For he’s the one who keeps me up at night
When I give my heroes wings and flight.
Camelia is a wife, Patrick’s mom and Bella’s owner. During the day, she is the assistant to the Director in SESE at Arizona State University, and romance’s slave at night. Her debut novel "Hidden Heart" came out in March 2011 and Camelia’s second novel, "A World Apart" has just been released.
Camelia moved to the U.S over eight years ago, following her heart and the man who stole it. English is not her native, not her second, but her third language!
She loves comedies, historical dramas and happily-ever-after stories. Each year Camelia participates in one big event that requires her to train. Her biggest sportive accomplishment was the 3-day 60 miles Susan Komen Walk.
A very warm welcome to you Camelia, and can I thank-you for taking some time out of your very busy schedule to talk to us today.
Calum, I’m the one to thank you for hosting me on your site. Thank you for the opportunity and… the cup of tea :-)
Camelia, can I begin by first asking what do you like best about living in Arizona?
Sun (almost) 365 days a year. All around tolerant, easy-going people. Sun. Smiling faces everywhere I go. Sun. Wide roads and NO ONE honking. Did I mention sun?
You did not always live in America. Can you tell us a bit about your best memories from you childhood and about where you grew up?
I grew up in Bucharest, Romania in a family so poor I don’t recall having packed lunch going to school. My father was the disciplinarian, while Mama was the nurturing one. As soon as summer vacation began, our parents took the three of us to Mama's Aunt Floarea, in a small village about an hour and a half southeast of Bucharest. For ten weeks all we've done was to play in dirt, swim in murky water and shed a few layers of skin until the sun had nothing else to burn. We climbed trees and ate fruits plucked straight from the branches, used newspapers instead of toilet paper and ran barefoot, stopping only to pull another thorn from our heels.
We prayed before going to bed, but I have to make a confession—I prayed not for God’s forgiveness, but for the horde of mosquitoes to bite everyone else but me. We slept six in a bed, packed like sardines, giggling at Aunt Floarea's threat to kick us out to the chicken house if we continue misbehaving. We waited in line for a mug of steaming, sweet milk, as Aunt Floarea's skilled fingers wrapped around the cow's teats. We shared our milk with tick-filled kitties and stole blind puppies to be our pets.
We all drank from the same metal can hanging on the well's pole by a tattered rope. We frantically waited at the street corner for Uncle Dita to return from the lake with a bucket filled with fresh-caught fish—the more hunched he walked, the more fish he carried and dinners those nights seemed regal.
Do you think books that you read during your childhood may have influenced your current writing in any way?
No, not at all. From Tolstoy to Balzac, Dostoyevsky to Eminescu, almost all books were dramas. I write romance.
Did you always want to become a writer?
Writing was a childhood dream. Too many imaginary friends wanted to escape the small confinement of my brain. I honest don’t even think of myself as a writer—it’s a hobby more than anything.
Do you have a set writing routine when you are working on a novel?
I'm pretty flexible. Sometimes I write from the moment I return from work until I can no longer keep my eyes open. Other times I wake up in the middle of the night with a scene so vivid in my head I have to get up and put it on paper. I have days, maybe weeks when no words come to mind or times when I’m so inspired I can write several chapters at once. Either way, I just go with the flow. Writing is a passion therefore nothing is forced.
Where do you write best?
Complete silence, and always at my computer in my office (no laptop!).
Do you have any hobbies or other interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from the demands of your professional life and writing?
Reading. If a book pulls me in I stay up all night and finish it. I also love comedies and historical dramas. I recently discovered a few on NetFlix and I stayed up all night to watch them. Pat Tilman’s Run is the annual sporting event I train for.
Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write your current book ‘A World Apart’?
The Iraq War. The story goes back to the end of 2002. It all started with some headlines in a Romanian newspaper announcing the Romanian government signed an agreement with the U.S. government to grant complete access to one of the airbases at the Black Sea. The base was strategic in the war against Iraq starting several months later, in March of 2003. The news kind of leaked into the media because at the time there was no official announcement that the U.S. prepared for an invasion, and so the Romanians were quite confused with the agreement.
Without knowing what was the real reason Americans were on our soil, I began making up stories... Enter Romanian Dr. Lt. Cassandra Toma deployed at the Black Sea to work with American Dr. Maj. David Hunt. She's too outspoken and rebellious to be in the army, or as David sees her, "the mother of all mules." She's in the army for all the wrong reasons, which eventually will determine her actions later on. David on the other hand is the quintessence of the American soldier, who takes pride in his rank and work. That and more is about to change the minute he lays eyes on Cassandra.
I've never lost anyone at war. I can't imagine how a family left behind goes on with their life after losing a loved one on the front line, be it in Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else our soldiers fight the enemy. Yet, they do it, and because of that I need to do my part and give back, keeping alive our soldiers' memory.
A World Apart is my dedication to all men and women in uniform serving in the army. I can't bring back the ones we lost, but I can give them life through my story. Their story. ‘A World Apart’.
Have you any other books in the making at the moment?
I'm working now on a novel I plan to release in December. It’s Chiara’s story, Tessa’s sister from my debut novel Hidden Heart. She's actually dark and distrustful, unlike any other characters I’ve dealt with before. She’s quiet, sitting in an obscure corner, knees pulled to her chest and NOT saying a damn word. Not going anywhere, not letting anyone come closer. Such a troubled heroine scares me since I thought I could handle whoever comes into my head (unless they are zombies, then I’d be screwed). Can't lure her with cookies or ice cream, can't make her talk, but I feel her with the same intensity I feel my breath.
Is it an impossible task, or can you give any advice to new writers, as they struggle to try to achieve a work life balance when working, bringing up a family, writing and also possibly trying to promote their books as well?
Giving up is easy. But not fulfilling. Before you know it, time passes by so fast, your children are out of the house, and you look back with regret for not doing what you loved most—write, crochet, paint, read, hike the Himalayas ... and before you know it, you wish time was some magical wand you wave to get back what you've lost—your dreams, your passions.
I don't have a formula for how to find time for your hobbies, but I hope you'll look inside yourself and see that little girl (boy) you once were, with dreams to become a famous painter, an acclaimed writer or just an amazing conductor, and find within yourself the will to follow that dream.
You will be sidetracked by the load of laundry or the batch of cookies your child needs for the fundraiser. You will feel guilty for not spending time with your husband watching his favourite show. You will be discouraged by the amount of time and energy it requires to follow that dream. All I can tell you is: Don't. Give. Up. On. Your. Dream!
What is your favourite book and why?
‘Gone With The Wind’ because “After all, tomorrow is another day.”
From what you have shared with us today, it can be clearly seen that you are kept very busy within your life but enjoy it to the full! To conclude our interview can you finally tell us what simple things in life make you smile?
My son’s hugs. My husband’s silly jokes. My dog’s tricks. Having my coffee on the swing in the backyard and watching life happening right before my eyes.
Camelia, it has been a great honour for me to work with you on this interview for my literary site. I would like to thank-you once again for taking the time to speak to us today.
Oh, Calum, my dear, the pleasure is all mine. Lovely chatting with you! Your tea was absolutely delightful (how did you know I like it with a splash of rum?)
If anyone would like to discover more details about Camelia and her writing, Camelia’s website can be found by clicking on the book tour banner below: