Author Interview: Roxana Nastase (a.k.a. Rowena Dawn)

Guess who’s visiting today? It’s Rowena Dawn! For those of you who aren’t familiar with her work, she’s the author of the following titles:

  • Mayhem on Nightingale Street
  • Leap of Faith
  • Double-Edged: Perfect Halves
  • Becka’s Awakening

(Fun fact: Rowena writes both romance novels and crime-thrillers.)

Let’s sit down with this architect and discuss her writing over some coffee. 😀

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1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My country of origin is Romania and I spent my first few decades (let’s say almost four) there. I moved to Canada, to Quebec first and then to Toronto, but at heart I’m still Romanian. My values haven’t changed – it was too late for that. I love Romania, I enjoyed Quebec and, let’s say, I tolerate Toronto. Too crowded and too noisy for me, I suppose, but perfect for my daughter. Eh, different generations, I suppose.

I’ve passed through various phases and I enjoyed things for a while and got bored after some time. What stuck with me was reading. This is my hobby, I think, although I’ve never thought about that. However, if I can’t read at least a few pages a day, I’m antsy and I can’t even go to bed.

Another hobby – as my friends would say, was collecting degrees. I’ve always been passionate about too many things and I couldn’t decide. I started studying French literature and then Geography. I went to Law School for two years and then I studied English Lit. I went for a Master’s in International Relations and after a while for another one in Biogeography. Yes, I know, it’s all over the map. Anyway, everything helps. I have knowledge I can dip in whenever I need it and I learnt to apply logic and to make associations.

I am a very disorganized person in all aspects of my life other than my work. Worse, I’m very forgetful. I leave the room and after a minute I don’t remember why. However, I can remember exactly how my characters look or what they said and when. I’ve always had the reputation of a good kid or a good girl and that’s ironic. I always broke the rules. I don’t like rules, and in my house there aren’t any.

2. When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was around eight. I had a good imagination and I liked to write stories. At that time, I used to write poetry, as well. I published very late in life. My first novel was a thriller, published under my real name: Mayhem on Nightingale Street and then I tried my hand in romance with Double-Edged (Book One in Perfect Halves) and Leap of Faith, under my pen name Rowena Dawn. I have just launched a new romance, Becka’s Awakening (Book One in The Winstons series) and I am already plotting Book Two.

3. Why did you start writing?
I started writing because I have a hyper-active imagination and I have a compulsion about putting stories on paper (metaphorically speaking – I haven’t written a story on a paper for a long time now).

4. Do you recall the moment you conceived the idea for your first novel?
Oh, yes. It was January 1st 2003. I woke up in the morning and I started writing Mayhem on Nightingale Street. I wrote almost continuously until I finished it. I wrote the book in about three months and then I put it away. After a few more months, I realized there were changes to be made. However, the content didn’t change. I changed phrasing and I am sure that if I try the same now, I would make other changes like that. Time has the power to make you feel differently about words.

5. Tell us a little bit about your newest book’s title, Becka’s Awakening.
Initially, I wanted to use “Becka” as a title for the book I have just launched. However, although it said something to me, I was sure that the potential reader would feel nothing seeing it. After about a week of thinking, I chose Becka’s Awakening because that’s what Becka does: she opens her eyes towards feelings and sensations she heard about, but never experienced first-hand. It is like an Awakening. Besides that, although she was determined to get the money at the beginning of the story, the end shows a dramatic change in her thinking. That’s another type of awakening, in my opinion.

6. Does Becka’s Awakening have a moral?
I think that the moral of the book is that you might not end up with everything; however, if your heart is content, then you don’t need everything. Finding a soul mate can bring you happiness in the long run while money might bring you just a piece of happiness, especially if there are strings attached. One of the themes in this book is that opposites attract. Becka is somewhat naïve while Bryan has seen too much of the ugly side of life; however, they complete each other.

7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
I think I favor Bryan, the hero in Becka’s Awakening. He is a strong man, with a speckled past and some psychological issues. He seems ready to take advantage of the situation, but then he falls so hard for the heroine that he doesn’t know where he’s coming from or where he’s going.

Becka was fun to write and she was a challenge. It’s not easy to remember how 19-year-olds think and react.

8. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Becka’s Awakening.
Becka is: short, curvy, stubborn, sweet.

9. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
Sometimes I listen to music, especially if my next door neighbors have one of their quarreling sessions. That’s not very helpful when you try to write a love scene, believe me. Most of the time, I prefer to be only with my thoughts. I don’t write during a specific moment of the day. It depends on inspiration and other work as well. However, I do prefer writing in the yard. Now, with the rains and soon snow, that will have to change. I never set daily goals. As I said, I like to break rules and I couldn’t respect such a goal.

10. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I have no feelings about them whatsoever.

11. What is your favorite book genre?
I read thrillers and romance and I write thrillers and romance.

12. What is currently on your to-be-read shelf?
I have lots of books on my to-be-read shelf. However, right now I’m reading a poetry book. I promised a review.

13. What is your favorite book?
I have several favorite books; however, I think I should mention Mermoz by Joseph Kessel. I read it when I was very young, but it stayed with me along the time. It touched me deeply: the courage, the hope…

14. Any project in the works?
I have four novels and a novelette in the works. I write on each of them depending on the mood. However, I am pretty sure I will finish the novelette first. It’s three quarters written while the others have only a few chapters in.

15. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
For the first draft, I usually need between one and three months. The problem is that there is a second and sometimes a third one before sending it to an editor.

16. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
The characters and the action.

17. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
To try. No one lost anything by trying but achieved nothing if they didn’t.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books

2. Dogs or cats?
Both

3. Summer or winter?
Winter

4. Nights out or nights in?
Nights in

5. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in the country

6. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telepathy

7. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Being able to travel to the future

8. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Batman

9. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Every language known to animals

10. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Without watching any movies/television shows for a week

11. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
To never watch another film

12. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a hurricane or finding yourself caught in the middle of a snowstorm? (Note: in both scenarios, you’d be outdoors and have no access to shelter.)
Snowstorm

13. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
Never eat a piece of chocolate

14. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be Saturday?
Have every day be Saturday

Thank you for joining us, Roxana!
Readers: want to connect with Roxana? You can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. Also, be sure to check out her blog.

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