Barnboksveckans gäster 2014 : Sînziana Popescu

När Sînzianas föräldrar hade läst klart godnattsagan för henne brukade hon själv ta vid och berätta sagor för föräldrarna. Genom hela skolgången berättade hon, gav boktips och skrev dockteaterpjäser. Inte ens hennes senare läkarstudier hindrade henne från att skriva, däremot hindrade skrivandet hennes medicinska karriär!

Why did you become a children’s books author? Were you interested in stories and pictures as a child, or was it your own child that needed stories, or is it a way to make the world a better place to live in?

I was a great storyteller in my early childhood. I remember that when my parents were reading me bedtime stories, I was always listening to them until the very end then it was my turn to tell them my stories, invented on the spot. I was not only able to grab their attention, but I even managed to put my granny to sleep on several occasions. During my elementary school, this storytelling talent was intensely supported by my first teacher who used to ask me to come in front of my colleagues and tell them stories or make them book recommendations. In secondary school I was already producing puppet shows with my friends by building puppets out of clay or radio plays from I. L. Caragiale’s texts recorded on my parents’ reel-to-reel tape recorder. It may seem like a child’s play, but all these small victories in the storytelling realm allowed me later on to find my way.

My mother urged me to become a doctor, so in due time I followed the Faculty of Medicine in Târgu Mureş, my birthplace. But even as a student I kept writing plays and TV scripts for children, although at the time I didn’t have a child of my own. So, because my efforts were awarded with literary prizes and my plays were produced on stage in professional theaters throughout the country, once more I kept writing even after my graduation. And right now I am still doing it, something that I can’t say about my medical career. After I moved to Bucharest and after the birth of my son many things changed – the people around me, the places, my path.

Nowadays I am a scriptwriter, so I can say that I happily put together my passion and my career. Looking back now, I could conclude that I ended up writing scripts, plays and novels for children because I always enjoyed telling stories. It was something always there with me. I’m best at it, I think.

Do you write also for adults?

Yes, as a playwright & screenwriter I have written many texts for adults too. One of my plays, written especially for radio, “Love of an Iceberg”, was awarded and broadcast by Radio Romania Cultural. Throughout the years, I wrote TV scripts for several production houses: CVI International – “In the family” series (2001), MediaPro Pictures – “Rich people, poor people” series (2007) and Acasă TV – “Decisions” and “Mothers and doctors” series (2008). There were also individual projects, such as the short film “On heroes and flies”, awarded by the Romanian Filmmakers Union and released at “CinemaIubit” Film Festival, directed by Didona Pantazi (2003). Even now I'm working on a project for adults, which will hopefully be broadcast by HBO Romania in 2015.

Do you believe that children’s books should be read by grown ups as well?

If the grown ups want to have fun, they should read children books. Why not? I confess that I have done that before. It is an interesting exercise, especially when it comes to (re)reading books that you have read as a kid. I think that many adults read such books alongside their children, then comment them and share impressions. For example, when I wrote the novels of Andilandi series, a fantasy series inspired by Romanian mythology, a curious thing happened. While I thought that these novels were meant to be read only by children aged 9-15 years, after they were published I received many thank you notes from the parents of my presumed readers, telling me that my novels reminded them of their childhood stories - folk tales collected by Petre Ispirescu or those written by other beloved authors of our childhood - Vladimir Colin or Alexandru Mitru. And such messages kept coming. It was flattering, but also unexpected to receive letters from 30-40 years old people about how much they enjoyed reading my books with Magic Horses, Ladies, Water Sprites, Solomonists, Meek People, Zmei Lords, Dragons or Undeads as they use to read when they were little. So, in the end, the whole situation led to a slight retargeting of the books. And now Andilandi series isn’t meant only for children, but also for “their nostalgic parents”.

Do you remember when and where your first text was published?
My first text was published in 2001 at The Romanian Literature Museum Publishing House. It was a play for children called “Slipping into a plum” – also awarded and broadcast by the Romanian National Theatre – and included in the Bucharest Writers’ Association Anthology that was published in that year. I remember that at the time I felt very honoured that one of my radio plays for children was published alongside the texts of internationally renowned authors as Matei Vişniec or Iosif Naghiu.

Do you have a favorite among your books?
My books are like my children. So no, I try not to have any favorite.

What are you working on right now?
I'm working on several projects right now, but the most important to me is the 4th book of Andilandi series – “Peter’s flight over The Dragons’ Domain”, which I hope to finish soon.