By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: August 16, 2012
Mirela Roznoveanu is a literary critic, writer, and journalist who has published novels, literary criticism, essays, and poetry. She was also noted as a dissident journalist during the turbulent period in Romania during the late eighties. We talked to Roznoveanu about her book Old Romanian Fairytales, in which she has translated the fairytales she loved as a child.
Bianca Schulze: Can you share a little on your background and describe the moments from your early days, which you would say define you as a writer?
Mirela Roznoveanu: I have always loved to read and this is the most important aspect of my life. I spent my early years reading intensely. The books I came across in my childhood shaped my literary taste. I am grateful to my parents for this gift. From those books I learned not only the craft of writing but also the craft of living. The books I read have helped me win life’s battles and also helped me sustain hardships, go over obstacles, and deal with challenges. The story of my life is too complicated and complex, but it is part of my writing. For a writer, life is the primal matter of inspiration.
BS: In your book Old Romanian Fairytales, readers encounter fabulous fairies and Prince Charming, betrayal, competition and love; they also witness battles with dragons. The tales convey important lessons about morality and responsibility. What do you feel children who read your tales relate to the most?
MR: The fairy tales I have translated are the ones that I loved as a child. As I matured, they brought to me more and more meaning and significance. The rule of law is the most important lesson children learn from these stories. Through fabulous characters they also hear about kindness, courage, responsibility, respect, hard work that overcomes difficulties, and the way they have to relate to society by way of their actions as a whole. These are definitely crucial in shaping any child’s life.
BS: Which age group did you create this book for?
MR: In a way it could be any reader of any age. The older you are the more philosophical meanings you discover in them. Fairy tales were meant in olden times to convey to society and to its future not only the knowledge but also the deep meanings of existence. And these meanings are alive today as well.
BS: The artwork on the pages is colorful and imaginative. How did you select Alexandra Conte to be the illustrator?
MR: Alexandra is my friend and a wonderful writer. She illustrated her books for children and those illustrations mesmerized me; so I asked her to illustrate my book and she graciously accepted it.
BS: On December 2000, outgoing President of Romania, Emil Constantinescu, honored you for exceptional contributions from abroad in the service of Romanian culture and democracy. What did this mean to you?
MR: It meant that my anti-communist activity in Ceausescu’s Romania, my role in the Romanian Revolution and post-revolution had been recognized. And this is important.
BS: How important is it to you to share your Romanian heritage through literature?
MR: Enormously vital. Romania is a small country with a great folklore, mythology and history. I would love to make these known to American readers. Regarding my books, unfortunately, many of them are written in Romanian and I could not find the right way to have them translated into English and published in the US. I especially think of the Civilization of the Novel: A History of Fiction Writing from Ramayana to Don Quixote, a thorough study many scholars and readers would benefit from reading and studying.
BS: Which books from your own childhood have most influenced your life?
MR: There were first the oldest Romanian fairy tales, my mom had told me about or read to me; then the Iliad and Odyssey by Homer, and the Greco-Latin mythology. I remember that in the fourth grade I was very close to the Greco-Latin gods, and to Homer’s characters.
BS: Which current authors would you consider your greatest influences?
MR: John Updike, Philip Roth, Saul Below, Jonathan Franzen, to name only a few.
BS: Are you currently working on any new books?
MR: I work on a historical novel, and this work will take me a few years from now on in order to accomplish it. The core idea came to mind in my mid-thirties. However, now it has come the right time for this novel to come to life. As you see, many times an idea for a book stays on the back burner of the writer’s mind for a long time, until time comes for it to mature…..
BS: As a parting note, is there anything you would like to share with your readers?
MR: The readers are my dear friends. I nurture them, and value them. I do not want to disappoint them and for this purpose I am asking them to hang on and try to understand my books. Sometimes I might ask them to have patience until the end promising I will not disappoint them…
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