Please welcome today a romanian author from the Black Sea, Alma Jane Sirbu, author of Katrina,Sin of Love.
I was born on the Trinity Day, one of the greatest and most loved orthodox feasts. It was a beautiful Sunday of year 1960 in Constantza, a port city of the Black Sea settled by Roman Empire before Christ initially named Tomis. This old fortified town is the very place where the great poet Ovid was banished by Emperor Augustus. Not many people know that a statue of Ovid lies in the beautiful Ovidiu square by wish of Romanians, descendents of two ancestral nations melting: Romans and Dacians.
I spent my childhood as well as my teenage years in this beautiful port town but also in the country, in Mihail Kogalniceanu commune, a fairytale land in Dobrogea region, 25 km away from the town I was born in.
I can say I liked reading ever since I know myself. When I was six I used to read all newspapers not for the news but for the love of reading itself. My mother inoculated me with the love of literature reading me every evening stories written by Hans Christian Andresen, Petre Ispirescu and Ion Creanga (the last two are great Romanian authors revered by our nation and virtually unknown in the Occident). I knew these fantasy stories by heart and I wanted so bad to read them myself that I learned how to read without any help from a teacher or my parents when I was six.
I graduated from secondary school and then high school with very good grades. I remember I was one of the top ten students. Despite my academic performance all I wanted was to read in my spare time. I read all classic works starting with Jack London, Kipling, Dumas, pere and Dumas, fils, Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, Paul Feval, Tolstoi, Cehov, Gogol and the great Romanian writers like Liviu Rebreanu, Mihail Sebastian, Cella Serghi, Radu Tudoran, Marin Preda, Ibrăileanu, Mihail Sadoveanu, our great national poet Mihai Eminescu and many others.
I can strongly affirm without the risk of bragging about myself that I’ve read about 9000 books within thirty years. That helped me raise my cultural level and my understanding of the process called „writing”. So, one day I decided to write my own novel, a romance obviously „Katrina, sin of love”, this being the English version of my book „Katrina, păcat din iubire”.
This was not my first attempt in writing, though. I began to write since I was a student in school when I had to complete my dissertations vividly acclaimed by my classmates. I also wrote some essays including my own thoughts about love, nature, the society we live in. My works were published in the school magazine.
After graduating from high school I applied for a local university Pedagogical College, French-Romanian Department. I graduated from college in 1983 when I had been already married to a long voyage seaman and had my beautiful only daughter Irina-Ioana whose gorgeous face is depicted on the cover of my book in both versions.
For eleven years while I was a housewife and mother for my daughter I couldn’t practice my profession of philologist/teacher but I kept accumulating cultural information by reading a lot, going to theatre and watching good movies brought from America (which was then a kind of El Dorado for all Romanians).
Communism deprived us of many things but one thing they couldn’t take from me was the right to culture. Moreover, having just two hours of television every day made us want to read, watch movies and go to theatre more than others.
After a dreamy childhood that I spent near an old forest of oak trees, ash and chestnut trees and after my teenage years filled with love, all kind of frustrations, disappointments, unfulfilled dreams and strong feelings I found myself being married (out of love) for eleven years. I felt this marriage terribly constraining from all points of view. My only refuge was the books that I used to read by candle light. The 1980 Communist crisis had already begun and electric light itself became a luxury commodity. It all ended with Romanian Revolution in 1989.
After many arguments with my husband I applied in May 1990 for a position in the biggest insurance company that time. I got the job and went over the steps of the corporate pyramid to become one of the most important executives. I worked there for fifteen years learning the skills of an insurer, taking computer courses and attending lectures and seminars. That was the bright side of the things that happened to me after the Revolution. The hard, almost unbearable part was that on the 6th of December 1991 my husband had been declared missing following a shipwreck somewhere south of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea.
Two years after this tragedy I didn’t know what peace of mind was trying to find my husband by any means, including Interpol. I finally gave up after two years and I dedicated myself to raising my daughter who was only 10 when she lost her father.
I worked hard and never remarried. I didn’t have any short term relationships these twenty two years after the tragedy in our family. I decided to start writing when my daughter graduated from Art College, Film and Theatre Studies Department. She flew from home in 2006 leaving the nest and my heart empty.
In February after a beautiful love dream (yes, I dreamed about the love story between Katrina and Anton) I woke up in the morning and the first stop I made was at a stationery store where I bought a stitch book and a new pen. This is briefly the way my first novel Katrina, sin of love came to life slowly but surely. I am proud to say that I participated with my novel in a competition Amazon Breakthrough Award Contest in 2013. From 6000 participants I qualified among the first 500. This is not my only achievement, though. I’ve published some short stories widely appreciated and now I’m working at my new novel The Prostitute which describes not only the realities of a period that all Romanians try to forget but also depicts the sinuous and not at all boring life of a woman whose destiny bears the mark of faith’s ever changing dice.
This is the story of my life.
Alma Jane Sarbu
KATRINA, SIN OF LOVE – SYNOPSIS
Anton, the son of a rich boyar family from the South of Romania, spends his last teenage summer holiday at his parents’ manor. There, he meets Katrina, a young country girl from the nearby village.What starts as a summer fling for him, turns into a love story, with Anton falling madly in love with Katrina.
The banks of the Danube and the deciduous forest surrounding his parent’s mansion make the wonderful setting where their love story takes place. Their feelings break class barriers and society’s prejudices.
His parents, however, have other plans. They want to have him engage to a rich girl, Anca, from a well-known family from Bucharest. Thus, the engagement takes place at the manor against his wish. Anton and Katrina have to part with great sorrow in their hearts.
He leaves for Vienna for a while, to continue his studies, while Katrina gets sick. A doctor from Giurgiu takes care of her and promises to marry her. Desperate, she accepts and moves to Bucharest with him.
In those troubled times, prior to World War II, Jewish people were removed from their
homes by the Legionnaires, a faction of the Green Shirts, allies of Hitler, and boarded on ghost trains, who were going to nowhere or to death.
The story is then picked up again after two years. Anca and Katrina meet again in Bucharest and their conflict leads to an unexpected turn of events : Katrina’s husband is tortured in the cellars of the Secret Police and eventually dies, while Anton and Katrina reunite, right on Christmas Eve…
Link to buy the book