Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Q&A with Roberta Seret
Roberta Seret is the author of the Transylvanian Trilogy, a new series of books including Gift of Diamonds, Love Odyssey, and Treasure Seekers. She teaches at New York University and is the founder of an NGO, the International Cinema Education Organization. She lives in New York City.
Q: What inspired you to write your Transylvanian Trilogy?
A: My husband was born and raised in Bucharest, Romania. He was educated there, became a doctor, and then he was sent to work in the countryside of Transylvania because he was not allowed to work in the capital.
Under Communism, he was considered privileged, an enemy of the people. His father was a physician and his grandfather was a landowner. He and his family had to escape; they managed to do so in 1963.
In 1990, after [Romanian dictator Nicolae] Ceausescu’s execution, my husband took me to visit Bucharest and Transylvania and showed me the city and villages he loved. I understood why he missed his country so much and I wanted to learn more.
As a writer, I thought it would be interesting to share with American readers what I was learning about this exotic world of Romania. So I took plenty of notes and photos for a possible novel.
Years later, I recreated in my imagination a voyage to Transylvania where I borrowed politics and history to create stories about four friends growing up together as teenagers. I thought it would be interesting to show how they escaped communism and what happened to them.
To do this, I mixed facts that I was learning from research, with my imagination – a hybrid approach. I wanted a different literary style to offer to American readers. Read full interview here
“Gift of Diamonds”: Westport author pens historical fiction on 1990 revolution in Bucharest – Connecticut Post, Westport News
by Sarajane Sullivan March 5, 2021
Roberta Seret, an author from Westport, has penned a new historical fiction novel, “Gift of Diamonds” about a 1990 revolution in Bucharest, Romania. The book is the first in the Transylvania Trilogy. Wayzgoose Press
Roberta Seret was there that day 30 years ago when Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu was executed and a revolution in Bucharest took place.
Now she’s writing a novel based on what she saw.
Seret wears many hats. She’s a Westport native currently living in New York City. She’s the director of ESL and film for the hospitality committee and founder and director of the non-governmental organization for the United Nations, a film professor at New York University and a film reviewer for the Journal of International Criminal Justice and the Oxford University Press.
Her husband is from Romania, and introduced Seret to his country, which later became the inspiration for her new book “Gift of Diamonds,” the first in her Transylvanian Trilogy.
The trilogy “infuses government secrets and stories from Romania to construct a series of historical fiction, romance, mystery, and international espionage.”
Seret took a moment to chat with Hearst Connecticut Media via email about how the book came to be and the advice she would give to other aspiring writers.
Sarajane Sullivan: How did the idea for this book first come to you?
Roberta Seret: In 1990, after Ceausescu’s execution, my husband took me to visit Bucharest and Transylvania and showed me the city and villages he loved. I understood why he missed his country so much. As a writer, I thought it would be interesting to share with American readers what I was learning about this exotic world of Romania.
SS: You describe a scene in the book in which miners march into Bucharest to begin a revolution after the execution of Ceausescu. What some readers might not know is that you were actually there during that time. What was it like for you writing this book and having to relive that pivotal moment?
RS: It was exciting to live it, and even more exciting to relive it.
In March 1990, ten weeks after Ceausescu was executed, my husband wanted to show me the playground where he played soccer as a boy and the school where he learned to love Molière.
I saw hundreds of men marching six-abreast through the avenue. Their faces were smeared black with soot; they wore miners’ helmets and carried long sticks and heavy chains. They marched in synchronized lines, taking over the avenue, smashing store windows, knocking down anyone who blocked their way.
We went outside into the night. It was pandemonium. The miners were yelling and screaming, swinging their chains at anyone who dared come near.
The violence around us was real. Danger was everywhere – gun shots, smoke bombs, fire flares, windows smashed, blood on the streets. After a couple of hours of being in the middle of an uprising, we realized we had seen enough. It was time to leave.
SS: What were the biggest writing challenges you’ve faced and what advice would you give to other aspiring writers attempting to write a novel?
RS: Since I was a child, I loved books and marveled at stories. As I grew older, I realized to write my own stories (it) would be difficult. But I was determined to make my dream turn real. And I was prepared to make sacrifices for such a challenge. Yet, if I could actually write fiction was unknown to me then. What I did know was that I had discipline to try.
It is difficult to advise authors, for the writer must find his/her own voice. But I am happy to share some hints that have helped me write my novels:
An author needs to be organized with time and writing. It is important to conceptualize these intangible concepts as if they are written in stone. Try not to take personally criticisms and rejections. They only drag you down. Believe in yourself and your writing.
Let your characters become real people so your reader can see them, feel them, like them, travel with them. Your story is a voyage and your reader should travel alongside your characters.
Be honest and true to yourself. As I write, I open my heart. My literature becomes a confession to myself. I use my characters to show that we are all alike.
Write and rewrite. The more you write, the better you become. Think of yourself as an athlete, a scientist, an individual who strives for perfection. Keep trying, striving, yet, realizing that art is never perfect.
Keep paper and pen near your bedside.
SS: What is the central lesson you want people to take from this book? What do you hope they will enjoy most about “Gift of Diamonds”?
RS: I see it mostly as a story of survival. Mica loves life. She wants to live and she wants her parents to enjoy life with her and her family. A very simple wish; and yet, so difficult to attain.
In “Gift of Diamonds,” Mica becomes a victim of evil: evil in governments, evil in society, evil in people. Her escape toward freedom is the triumph of her goodness and her power to fight. Mica is a survivor.
Protagonist and author, Mica and I, have both learned that to live to the fullest, is the best revenge against evil.
For more information about Seret and her book, visit firstname.lastname@example.org, @bysarajane on Twitter