My interview in The Observator
A few weeks ago, I was approached by the editor of The Observator (a local Romanian newspaper) for an author interview. Through my mom, they'd heard of my publications and thought it would be a good opportunity to showcase me to the Romanian community. Below is a simplified English version of the article :)
NOTE: The interview is now live and published on their site:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your Romanian connection. Why do you write under a pseudonym?
I was born in Romania in 1992. When I was only 11, my parents moved to Canada. We lived for a bit in Montreal, then moved to Toronto, and I ended up in Ottawa for University and stayed here. Though I never lived under Communism in Romania, my parents did, and growing up I still remember my father telling me not to speak “too loud” for fear of neighbours hearing my political opinions. This approach of his would continue even in Canada, and I think seeing him, specifically, with the wounds of that time period, I learned to grow up wary. Writing under a pseudonym protects me and my family, and gives me the freedom to be two people at once. In private, I can be Iulia, daughter, mom to two dogs, wife, hard worker. And in public, I get to be Alexa, the intrepid author who’s not afraid to speak her mind, jump into controversial conversations and lend a helping hand to fellow authors. What would you say sparked your writing? Why do you love writing?
Moving to Canada was hard for my young self. In Romania, I learned English but had only started to learn French. Since we landed in Montreal, this meant I was at a disadvantage. So while I poured over books to learn the language, and fed my thirst of knowledge, I also started envisioning worlds of my own. It was really the move to Toronto that sparked my writing. On top of my strong European accent when speaking, coming from a French province into an English one means you’re stuck in the middle. You’re either too French for someone, or too English. Faced with this new type of discrimination, I retreated into myself and aside from the good friends I grew up with in high school, my focus went to my books. That’s when I started my first series for young adults, The Sage’s Legacy, and by the time I was halfway through high school I had finished two manuscripts. Writing was/is what makes me the happiest. With each stroke of the pen (or keyboard!) the reality around me falls into a faint echo, replaced by the beauty of the world I create. The conflicts and obstacles in my novels are surmountable, whereas in real life, that’s not always the case. The control and the ability to lose myself in writing is what really makes it appealing to me,
Do you have a favourite place to write, or do you give free reign to your thoughts wherever when the mood strikes?
I could honestly write anywhere, as long as the inspiration is there. I’ve written at work on short breaks and lunches, in class while listening to a professor give their lecture, in the park while walking my dogs… I think even at a restaurant once! All I need is pen, paper (napkin, flyer, you name it) and I’m gone. My husband jokes that I forget everything else around when my characters start “talking” to me, and I suppose that’s true. I love writing by water, be it on a beach or by a cottage near the lake… Nothing puts me at ease more than the quietude. If I could have a boat, it would be perfect!
But you work, and you’ve gone to school. How do you find the time to write?
Yes, I can’t say that I get bored that’s for sure. One of the things I find the hardest to understand is someone speaking of a passion yet finishing with “I don’t have the time”. That has never been my issue. When I worked 40hrs while in university full time, I found an hour in the middle of the night to write. When I was in class, I would take my notes and jotted all over my notebooks in the margins were ideas for a chapter, or a character, etc. Now that I’m out of university and juggling a job as well as a family life, I take every free moment for myself and use it to write. It’s how I was able to put out 4 novels last year, and finish my series on Avalon this year plus start a new one. Perseverance, and a lot of sacrifice, is the name of the game. Did you always know you were going to be an author? And would you say living in Canada helped your pursue your writing career or hindered it?
I didn’t always know… To be honest, towards the end of my high school, I went through a phase where I stopped writing. My mom was always there for me to encourage me, but I can’t say the same for the rest of my family. And sometimes, going through hard times means taking time off what makes you happy and focusing on yourself, to make yourself happy. That’s what I did when I went to university, and it was only after I dealt with some things and met my husband that I reconnected with my love of writing. His support and my mom’s were instrumental in me deciding to go back to writing and making a career out of this.
And despite what I mentioned above, the discrimination and hardships, I think living in Canada helped me pursue my career. I never would have known of the variety of ways you can get published if I’d been in Romania, and the events in my life in Canada are what sparked my love for writing. So yes, there is definitely a silver lining there, something much easier to see now as an adult than as a child going through it. What’s your writing process like – how long does it take you to write a book, edit it, etc.? Do you incorporate your Romanian heritage?
Chaotic is the word. If you saw one of my manuscripts in its rough stages, you wouldn’t be