Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m Chris’ wife, Patrick’s mom and Bella’s owner. During the day, I’m the assistant to the Director in SESE at Arizona State University, and romance’s slave at night. I’m also Hidden Heart’s author, which is my debut novel.
I moved to the U.S almost eight years ago, following my heart and the man who stole it. I love comedies, historical dramas and happily-ever-after stories. English is not my native, not my second, but my third language (Cindy once told me it sounds like I have a disease…). Each year I participate in one big event that requires me to train. My biggest sportive accomplishment was the 3-day 60 miles Susan Komen Walk. Annually I pick a color I decree my favorite (this year is salmon). I refused to text until 2010, always preferring to hear voices rather than sending emotionless messages. Politic bores me to death and I have no tolerance for arrogance.
At what point did you decide to become a writer? Was there someone or something that specifically inspired you?
Summer of 2009. I’ll never forget, driving down the road with Patrick, my son one day and talking about childhood dreams, the need to fulfill them, the need to dream more even as adults. He told me his, I told him mine. I told him one of my childhood dreams was to write novels. I also told him about all the heroes I had in my head, and their incredible stories. But I also told him I doubted myself. My heart drummed in my chest, fearing my own son will think I’m crazy. He listened and said, “I know you can do it, mom. Just sit at your desk, and write. Whatever comes to your mind, just put it on the paper.” And for some inexplicable reason, I did as he suggested. He trusted me I can do it. Probably I could disappoint someone else, but not my son. Fast forward to March 2011, I held in my hands my debut novel “Hidden Heart.”
Where are you when you are writing, and what implements/addictions do you have with you when you’re writing?
In a lavander guest room. I have a table set up by the window, with green palms waving their green leaves at me, several books (dictionaries, grammar, etc); a few trinkets (three bears, two elephant candle-holders and a rare round stone). I need complete silence when I write. I love my milk with coffee (yes, you read correct—it’s milk with coffee and not vice-versa. It takes a cup of coffee divided in 4, then add milk to the brim and drink one hot cup at the time, until about 2pm).
You were born in Romania, and now live in the US. Tell us about your journey from one country to another and all the places you’ve lived:
Before I moved to the U.S. in September of 2003, I lived in Austria, Germany and Hungary. Love took me to Austria, work to Germany and month-long vacations to Hungary. Then I returned to Romania for about five years, before love found me again. This time it brought me here to the States. In looking back, I realize that every single place I’ve been to, its people, its traditions, culture and language, every memory helped me create characters with different backgrounds and lifestyles, adding spices to the story. Aside from the romantic tone in my novels, my heroes are always coming from different countries. I use English as the books’ language not necessary because it’s my adoptive tongue, but because no matter where we travel in the world, English is the catalytic, love’s language as I like to call it.
Your book, Hidden Heart, is written in English, even though that isn’t your native language. How difficult was it to write an entire novel in English?
Oh, boy! Ask Cindy J! She probably scratched her head so many times trying to decipher what my sentences meant. I never looked at it as being difficult. English just comes to me so easily; I dream in English, I think in English. Can’t tell exactly when in happened (the transition from thinking in Romanian to English), but it’s so natural now (my mom asked me to write my books also in Romanian so she can read them. I told her maybe when I retire LOL). Humor aside, I try to expand my vocabulary on a daily basis. Not only expand it, but also find antonyms and synonyms for words. Verbs are my weakness.
Tell us about Hidden Heart. What is it about? Where did you get the idea for the novel?
Believe it or not, I cringe when people ask me this question. Because I know that I have about 30seconds to say something so interesting, that the person who asked is intrigued enough to try to find more, and eventually want to read the book. So, begin the countdown: 30- 29-28… Hidden Heart is a multicultural women fiction novel, with a strong romance influence. Did I put you to sleep? Just checking. If not, it’s a tale of love, betrayal and friendship. A woman's journey to forgiveness and redemption. A man's fight for a second chance. Dark secrets threatening to destroy everything and more. I’d say more, but the 30 seconds are up J
Hidden Heart deals with some heavy subjects, including living with the aftermath of violence. How difficult was it to write those scenes of violence? How did you decide the way your heroine was going to overcome her challenges?
This subject used to be a sore one for me. I grew up in a society where violence was and unfortunately still is considered a matter of fact—parents beat their children, teachers spank their students, husbands abuse their wives. I was no exception to the rule. I have memories of my father’s belt, my teacher’s ruler and my first husband’s fists. When someone grows up like this, there are only two ways to come out of it: either accept it and live a miserable life, or revolt against it and stop it. Tessa, my heroine represents my victory against violence. It’s my healing miracle. Regardless of how many other books I’ll write, Tessa will always have a special place in my heart, and if her story can touch at least one other woman, giving her hope through the healing process, then I did my job.
What is your next project?
My next project is called “A World Apart”, coming out (I hope) in December 2011. It’s a multicultural novel that, while set in the middle of the Iraqi war, is about the romance between two opposites. Maj. David Hunt is an American doctor in the US Air Force, and Lt. Cassandra Toma is a Romanian doctor in the Romanian Army. Fate has them both deployed to the M. Kogalniceanu (try to say this word, please) Joint Air Base shortly after Saddam Hussein’s execution.
They meet. They clash. A forbidden passion consumes them with the intensity of an erupting volcano, leaving her heartbroken and him with tarnished honor and pride as an officer. The only way out for David is disappearing into the dangerous warzone in Kirkuk, Iraq. Their flame was supposed to be over when destiny brings them back under the same roof, this time with a common goal—to find Cassandra's brother, Maj. Robert Toma, kidnapped by insurgents while on patrol.
To rescue Robert, Cassandra and David put aside their resentments, uniting forces against a common enemy. Trying to forget the painful past, Cassandra opens up to give David—and their love—another chance. What she doesn’t realize is that her anguish is the result of David’s impetuous action—one reckless choice he made for which she may never forgive him.
His mistake, his secret, could cost them both the love they've finally found.
Why did you choose to self-publish over going with traditional publishing?
Simply put, I’m a control freak. I decide the format, the cover, the edits. Don’t get me wrong; I have a lot of admiration for a lot of agents. It must be as hard for them to sell a book, as it is for us, the writers, especially with the way the economy, in particular the book industry threads murky waters these days. I follow several of them on a daily basis. But my time is as precious as theirs and life is too short to sit around and wait a rejection letter when I can self-publish, hold my book in my hands and move onto the next one. I have way too many stories in my head, but not enough time to write them all, even less time to wait for THE CALL.
You’re marooned on an island. What three inanimate objects must you have with you for your survival and/or sanity?
Only a gallon of Haagen Dazs ice cream (vanilla with Swiss almonds). I won’t survive the first night since I’m scared of darkness. But I’ll die happy.
Thank you for inviting me, I really had fun sharing glimpses from Cami’s land with you. You can find more about me at www.CameliaMironSkiba.com
Want to learn more about Camelia's amazing life, and how she came to be the writer she is? Read this interview that she did.
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