Writing: What if you’re not brave enough to publish a memoir using your own name? 

An interesting read. Bloggers and authors talk about ways to handle your memoirs if you feel you can’t put your own name to them.

Writing: What if you’re not brave enough to publish a memoir using your own name? | Self-Publishing Advice Center

What do you think? Have I been properly honest in writing about my part in this book? Some readers have been shocked at my openness over mental health, and so on. But why should we be scared to be honest? Mental illness (and most unplanned life events are not crimes, they’re usually not our fault, and usually they are very common experiences. We need to discuss difficult bits of life. How would you handle it?

 

Too hot and sticky? Watch this!

For all of you suffering from heat and humidity, watch these two videos of yesterday’s gentle thunderstorm over a Carpathian mountain village in Transylvania, and bask in the calm, cooling greenery of my home. Aaahhhh…

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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.

TEDx Brasov loves imagination

Last May I was a presenter (so nervous I kept my eyes shut throughout) at TEDx Brasov, talking about the three steps in turning ideas into reality: imagination, creation, innovation. Judging from what people said to me after the show, it inspired some new thinking, which is fantastic.

I’d love to know what your most recent idea was – what are you looking to create?

Here’s the current TEDx Brasov magazine, with an article on my idea-about-ideas, written by Miruna Tudor.

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Latest interview in vocea.biz

Journalist Ioana Nicolescu’s latest interview in online journal Vocea.biz is here, but below is a rather bad translation (Google Translate + me):

img_1236-me-writing-in-snowBritish writer Arabella McIntyre-Brown has lived for six years in a village on top of Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, and is committed to never leaving Romania. She bought a house in Magura village and moved there permanently in 2010. This month she has published a book about her life in Magura, which she wrote over several years. “It’s been a while since I published a book, I think eight years. It’s great to get back into the world of books. How did I realize I should write a book about my life here? It’s simple – it’s Transylvania, and people from outside the country are very curious about this place; Transylvania is one of the most romantic names in the world.

“For years I’ve been writing notes about my life here – not regularly, but occasionally I’d put my thoughts on paper. I remember the first time I heard the sound of the scythe as it cut the grass and saw people scything the meadow, it was like a ballet. In the book I wrote a little about my life in England, for readers to understand where I come from and why I make this parallel between Romania and Liverpool. I write mostly about my life in the village, about animals around the house, about my cats, about the rhythm of life here, in the heart of the mountains,” she said in an earlier interview for Vocea.biz.

She says that many foreigners do not believe that Transylvania is a real place. “I get the impression that people believe Transylvania is a mystical realm, like Ruritania, or Avalon in the legend of King Arthur, because they read about it in a book. When they hear that I really live there, they’re amazed, and ask me How is it possible? How is life there? Are there vampires?” says Arabella, laughing.

She says that the brand of “Transylvania” is very strong, one of the strongest tourism brands in the world, and surely the most famous brand name in Romania: everyone has heard of Transylvania.  Romania gets rather negative publicity, and this is often the perception of foreigners. Romanians are aware that the outside world does not have a good opinion of their country. “People are fascinated but know nothing about Romania. The stories that we hear in the UK are quite negative. For example, when I moved from London to Liverpool, people said I was crazy, because the country had a negative perception of Liverpool. In the case of Romania, the world does not know what is actually here and make assumptions based on limited information. They get their information from the right-wing press, which appears to be ignorant of anything outside the UK. It’s very similar to what Liverpool had to put up with for years.

When I first went to Liverpool and Romania, I noticed that in both places, people apologised for the city, for their country. Romanians and Liverpool residents are proud of their birthplaces, but at the same time are aware that the outside world does not have a good opinion of them, so they asked: ‘You like it here?’ Obviously I really liked it, I’d just bought a house there,” said the British writer.

Once local people learn about her story, the first question they ask  is “Why did you move here?” After finding out that she’s been here for six years, they ask “How come you haven’t left yet?”

“Why ask me that? For years the foreign press and even the media in Romania said that the country is ugly and that its people are lazy and dishonest, which is a colossal stupidity. This is the level of intelligence of the British tabloid press and their readers; this very distorted image of Romania has been absorbed here and has destroyed people’s confidence over the years,” said Arabella.

She mentioned what she first knew about Romania. “Immediately after the revolution, I heard about the execution of Ceausescu; I even kept newspapers from that day because it was something shocking. I didn’t know anything much about Romania – it wasn’t generally discussed in the UK outside specialist circles. I met my first Romanian in Liverpool – a young man who helped to illustrate one of my books – and his parents, both doctors: wonderful people. I first came to Romania in 2003 to do a short course in Zarnesti. It has changed a lot since then. What I remember is that people were very eager to know that we were enjoying ourselves and we liked it here. It was superb. We were taken by horse and carriage up to Magura and I felt great, as though I had gone back in time to 1960s’ Sussex, where I grew up. I went home after the holiday, but the next year I bought a house here,” said Arabella. The decision to move here came after some tragedy in her life. Several family members died within about 14 months, first her sister, then her aunt, and her mother. “I became overwhelmed – it’s hard to describe what happened, but I was not able to think straight; I couldn’t work, so there was no way to pay my bills. I realised that I had a house in Romania and I could move here, so I sold the house in Liverpool and in July 2010 I settled here, “said the writer.

Neighbours were already accustomed to her eccentric presence and received her with open arms. “Few people in the village spoke English, but I knew a little Romanian – very limited, but it was okay; one of my neighbours is a teacher at the village school and speaks English, so I have someone to talk to if my Romanian language fails. I’m something of a hermit, I like to be alone, I do not want to be disturbed. If I do not see anyone for a week, and it’s just me with my cats, it’s okay. What I love is that the rural world is full of life, of nature; it’s not always silent, but the sounds are animals and birds, not the sound of city traffic,” she said. Life here reminds her of her life as a child in the famous English country landscape. “I loved animals, and was given a piglet – we were friends even when she was fully grown and had piglets of her own.

“I think the reason I feel at home in Magura is that the earth itself is made of the same elements: chalk and limestone, and both places have the same animals and plants. I immediately felt something in the air here, I was back in my element.

“Another reason Magura is an ideal location,” she added, “is the cost of living. I heard recently that the fifteenth century house where I was born was sold for over two million pounds. My home here cost 1% of this price.

“I’m very lucky,” said Arabella.

Ran Fiennes admits to Fear

51cccvccwl-_sx323_bo1204203200_Hear the author of my book’s foreword read his own new book, Fear, on BBC Radio. It’s the Book of the Week, but you catch it any time of the day or night on BBC iPlayer.

“Sir Ranulph Fiennes has climbed the Eiger and Mount Everest. He’s crossed both Poles on foot. He’s been a member of the SAS and fought a bloody guerrilla war in Oman. And yet he confesses that his fear of heights is so great that he’d rather send his wife up a ladder to clean the gutters than do it himself.

“In Fear, the world’s greatest explorer delves into his own experiences and those of others to try and explain what fear is, and how we feel it. With an enthralling combination of story-telling, research and personal accounts of his own struggles to overcome fear, Sir Ranulph Fiennes sheds new light on one of humanity’s strongest emotions.”

Then you can find his earlier book, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, in Romanian. It’s a great read and a brilliant Christmas present for anyone who loves adventure and human excellence.

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What do you see: peace and freedom, or isolation and loneliness?

Piatra Craiului, Magura, Transilvania, loneliness, mountains

Could you live here?

Most people would like to see this view from their hotel window, or from the car as they drive by – it’s beautiful. But could you live here, 24/7/365, on your own?

Many times I’ve been asked: ‘Aren’t you lonely? Don’t you get bored?’

What would your answer be?

Mad hatter goes crazy

mad hatter, mental illness, mental health, recovery, one-eyed vision, visually-challenged

© Matei Buta

Another of Matei’s portraits – does this one capture a rather different facet of my character? Maybe the photo to go with articles of mental health (or otherwise), do you think?

Your captions?