Nine years today…

8th July 2010

Magura110

My poor little car rolled into Magura, loaded to the gunnels, bringing me to the village as the newest resident. We trundled across Europe for 8 days, after leaving London SE1 on 1st July, taking the scenic route and having adventures in six countries.

The house was nowhere near ready, even for camping in.

And it was years before every room was habitable. But I had my books and other comforts, and I acquired cats.

IMG_6939First, skinny kitten Hobbs, who blackmailed me for biscuits and tins of food.

Then she became Mama Hobbs, producing three kittens in May 2011. Mouse, Buster and George grew to become handsome and all bigger than their mum. Officially the happiest cats in Romania.

I only survived thanks to my neighbours, who have been kind and tolerant of the odd English writer in their midst: they’ve fed me, entertained and helped me since I arrived.

There have been furry souls in need of rescue:

…and members of the neighbouring family, and occasionally a new and beautiful friend.


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There have been visits from friends, strangers and family over the years, the strangers becoming friends, of course.

But every day there is beauty all around me, in every season, wild and domestic, rain and shine.

This is indeed a little corner of heaven, my stake in Transylvania.Stake_AMB 3D render with shadow

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New cover reveal

Here’s the beautiful cover for the English edition which will be out very soon. Created by Anjanee at 17 Studio Book Design, it captures some of the key elements of the story of why I moved to Romania, and why I’ve stayed.

Stake cover 564kb

There’s Bran Castle, my local fortress, the ubiquitous chickens, the archetypal Romanian haystack against a snowy mountain backdrop, and one of many cats who play an important role in the story.

The black birds figure strongly, both observed in nature, and as metaphors for the dark events that triggered my escape from the UK.

It was important that – despite the Gothic pun of the title – the overall impression was of light and beauty, since the place I now call home is a corner of heaven.

English edition out in a few days!

I can’t show you the whole cover yet, but here’s a teaser…

A Stake in Transylvania - Version 2

 

I’m delighted with it and will be so proud to show it off, take it with me everywhere, till I bore people to death with it. ‘Shut up, Abbs, we’ve seen it 99 times… Yes, we love it too, now go away…’

The book, A stake in Transylvania, will be out in digital form first, as an ebook for all you digital readers around the world. A couple of weeks later on, I’ll have the first printed books in the boot of my car and winging their way to readers in UK and elsewhere.

I’ll post links to online and physical shops here on the blog, so you’ll be able to get your hands on a copy easily and efficiently.

Crow and cat get their own book

Dahlia’s Pet Detectives (Dalia si micii detectivi) will be in the spotlight at the end of next week (Thursday 31st May, Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd June) when my new book is launched at Bucuresti’s Bookfest (Romexpo).

It’s my third children’s book published by Booklet Fiction, and the second set in the village of Hay, which looks amazingly like Magura…

If you read Floss the lost puppy, you’ll recognise the village of Fân (Hay) where Dahlia and Chip are neighbours and schoolmates of Thea and Tudor Thimble. A completely new story, but set in the same Transylvanian village, high up in the Carpathian Mountains.

Dalia cover

I have a Pinterest board devoted to pictures of cats like Onyx, and crows like Gossip. So you can see what Dahlia’s friends look like as you read their adventures…

I’ll be waiting to meet you on the Booklet Fiction stand on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at midday, ready to sign your copies. Come and say hello!

Read more about Dahlia and her friends here!

La multi ani, România!

Romania’s National Day – 99 years since the union. A day of pride and warm emotions, some regrets and many wishes for a brighter future.

Lots of posts on Facebook today have been wishing that Romanians abroad would come home and help drive their country forward; other posts by the diaspora around the world are about remembering the good with great fondness and regretting the frustrations of a country with such potential and so many rare assets, thwarted from development by its own government…

One of the most common comments I get from readers of this book is that my enthusiasm for the country reminds readers of what they love about Romania, and so many wonderful aspects that they’d forgotten.

It’s not a sentimental book, but it seems to prompt strong sentiments in those who read it. A good book to read on 1st December…

 

I’ve just brought out another book, this time for children aged 7-10. It’s a sweet Christmas story, based on truth, set in a village rather like mine, in the Carpathian Mountains. I’m donating my author’s royalties to two fabulous charities: Eli Pet Transport, and Romanian Animal Rescue, which do so much amazing work to rescue and save dogs and cats. So every copy you buy will help a homeless dog or cat– do buy lots!

Floss cover 2.jpg

Pita the puppy gets his own book!

Do you remember the story of the abandoned puppy I rescued? Here’s the start of the story.

Now Pita (which stands for Pain In The A*se) has his story immortalised in print and the book will be published in November at the big book fair in Bucharest.

floss cover cropped

Floss the lost puppy, or Floss, catelusul pierdut is published by Booklet Fiction, illustrated by Andreea Chele, and is bilingual (English and Romanian). Pita’s story is 100% true, but I’ve turned myself into a Romanian family: the narrator is Thea, a 10-yr old girl and her 7-yr old brother Tudor. Read more here.

Ideal for Romanian students starting to learn English (aged 7+), or for English-speaking students learning Romanian, come to that. You can order direct from the publisher, on +40 (0)21 430 30 95, but if you would like to buy in volume, let me know and I’ll arrange a discount (% varies depending how many books you’d like).

Come to the launch at the end of November! I’ll put a general invitation here and on Floss and Thea’s own blog as soon as the time and day are fixed.

 

See you in Iasi…

Exciting… I’m finally getting up to Iasi …

Iasi launch

 

With Editura All, I’m launching the book at 11.00 hrs on Saturday morning, 13th May at the book fair, so I hope I’ll see you there.

I’ll be in the city from Friday evening till Sunday morning and look forward to exploring a little. Pe curând!

New book news!

I’m delighted to be able to tell you that my next book – something rather different to the last – will be published in the next few weeks.

COVER dragoni

 

It will have its own book blog which will launch after Easter, so keep an eye out for the link.

 

Simplă, tristă și veselă

A thorough and very favourable review has been published on the blog cyberculture.ro by George Hari Popescu.

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“Cartea pare o colecție de schițe, dar întîmplările se adună frumos, pentru a crea tabloul general al despărțirii autoarei de țara natală și integrării ei în satul românesc. Arabella McIntyre Brown îmbină evocarea cu observația și liricul. După ce explică de ce a decis să emigreze, povestește greutățile prin care a trecut ca să vîndă totul acolo și să o ia de la capăt aici. Ne descrie în detaliu modul în care a renovat micuța casă din Măgura. Ne face părtași la primele ei constatări despre așezare, oameni, satul și statul român. Unele capitole sunt mici lecții de botanică și zoologie, altele sunt scurte lucrări de etnografie și folclor. Aproape fiecare “schiță” se încheie cu bucuria ei de a fi acolo și din volum transpare o oarecare stimă de sină determinată de faptul că a avut curajul de a se muta.

“Cred că veți fi surprinși de faptul că această englezoaică face o radiografie foarte exactă a României și a satului românesc, după cîțiva ani de ședere la Măgura. Mai mult decît atît, veți constata că Arabella McIntyre Brown pur și simplu iubește aceste locuri și se simte integrată aproape perfect. Pe un ton amabil și cald, ea ne îndeamnă în mod subtil să apreciem ce avem lîngă noi și să ne simțim privilegiați că încă avem valori care au pierit de mult din alte părți ale Europei.

“Recomand cartea pentru că…..

Read the whole review here.

Hope in a world where we have lost heaven

Silviu Schuster, a Romanian friend who introduced me to my publisher, has sent a wonderful response to the book. It was read out at the Brasov book launch and it brought a tear to my eye, as you can imagine. Thank you, Silviu, for everything you’ve done for me, and for your warm and generous response which means so much to me.

Here’s an extract  you can read the whole thing here.

I met a phrase they say Leo Tolstoi has written it: “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.”   În timpul călătoriei am întâlnit o frază care i se atribuie lui Lev Tolstoi: „Nu există măreție acolo unde nu e simplitate, bunătate și adevăr.”

Not that the book is simple, but it has a simplicity that is contagious, what in German would be “Leichtigkeit”, which might be “easiness” in English. Nu că ar fi cartea simplă, dar are o simplitate care este contagioasă, ceea ce în germană s-ar numi „Leichtigkeit”, ce ar fi „ușurință” în română.

You borrow us your sharp eyes and understanding. You make us understand ourselves better, you make us better understand you. You give us importance by understanding us better than we sometimes do. Not that you only answer that untold questions, but you made me ask some deep questions about myself, my life, my deeds. And I do love all this in a good book. Ne împrumuți ochii tăi ageri și înțelegerea ta. Ne faci să ne înțelegem pe noi înșine mai bine, să te înțelegem pe tine mai bine. Ne dai importanță înțelegându-ne uneori mai bine decât ne înțelegem noi pe noi înșine. Nu numai că răspunzi la întrebări nerostite, dar m-ai făcut să îmi pun câteva întrebări profunde despre mine, viața mea, faptele mele. Și asta este ce iubesc într-o carte bună.

Your book gives us hope in a world where we have lost heaven. It shows us that it is worthy to stand up when you feel down, that a tiny ray of hope can activate powers one never thought they lie in oneself. Life might be bad, but we must make it better. Cartea ta ne dă speranță într-o lume în care am pierdut paradisul. Ne arată că merită să te ridici atunci când te simți la pământ, că o diafană rază de speranță poate activa forțe pe care nu ne-am fi gândit niciodată că există în noi. Viața poate fi rea, dar noi trebuie să o facem mai bună.