I grew up a child of Romanian immigrants, the first of my family born in the US. Having left Romania during the height of communism’s asphyxiating grip, the filter of which they viewed their country was left with a film of grime, heartache and never-ending poverty. They moved to America to escape, finding amnesty and opportunity. Romania sunk into the past, a memory tarnished by Nicolae Ceausescu and his regime. As a child, I wasn’t taught Romanian, because there was no need to use a language associated with a country I’d never have a relationship with. Any mention of Romania was met with a harsh tone and short explanation. And it wasn’t because I asked, but because of the struggles and difficulties I’d be responsible for conjuring up with my question.
No. I grew up disinterested in Romania because my parents weren’t interested in reliving their childhood experiences. As I aged, I realized my parent’s responses weren’t part of Romania’s fault, they were a casualty of communism, human greed. As an adult, I longed to reconnect with my roots, to uncover the beauty of a country best known for crippling oppression and the fictional Dracula (though I will admit, I am a fan of the very real Vlad Tepes). I began a Food and Folklore blog with the hopes of outshining the negativity and, through it, I wondered if there was a way to showcase this beauty to the publishing world, offering a glimpse of a country often overlooked or shrouded in the paranormal.
“…the story I’ve written is as much a fantastical tale as it is a love letter to Romania…”
One Thousand Stars That Bind became that avenue for me to reach readers, with the main female character literally embodying my mother, both in name and age. Not only did the writing of this novel allow me an in-depth look at Romania during my mother’s childhood, but it allowed me to connect with her on a personal level, learning of the hardships and struggles she would have experienced, the things that kept her from wanting to share her country with me in my childhood.
In writing this story, much like Alina, I was taken on a journey through the land of my ancestors, recognizing the beauty behind the facade, the strength behind the pain. I’m proud to tell others the story I’ve written is as much a fantastical tale as it is a love letter to Romania—from the foods I’ve grown up enjoying, to the truly magical landscape and customs that make it unique. And I hope others are able to experience the same journey through One Thousand Stars That Bind.
Romania may have never been my physical home, but it has found a special place in my heart, and in One Thousand Stars That Bind.