Thursday, February 10, 2011

Transylvanian Sisters

Here’s an interesting story about how I came to have a Transylvanian “sister.”

Aura Imbarus grew up in Romania under the oppressive rule of Communism. Her life in the city of Sibiu, in Transylvania, was restricted by fear. Shots were fired. People mysteriously disappeared. Neighbors became informants for the government. As a girl, Aura had few people to trust. She felt that even the windows called “eyes” built into the German-style homes in her city were watching her.

Aura was smart and ambitious. She had a dream to go to America--to California--and have the kind of life she’d seen in the movies.

A few years earlier, another girl was growing up in America. One day when she was 13, she saw a Dracula movie. Right then she knew that one day she would go to Romania to find the mountains and castles of Transylvania that she’d seen in the movies.

Aura moved to America to pursue her dreams. She became a teacher in California and wrote a book about leaving Romania titled Out of the Transylvania Night. The American girl pursued her dream to see Transylvania. She was working on a book titled It Started with Dracula.

I was that American girl, now grown and still unable to resist a book with “Transylvania” in the title, so I bought Aura’s memoir. After I read it I wrote her a note telling her how much I’d liked it. Complimenting other writers is one of the things we do as part of the writing life.

Aura wrote back. One thing led to another as we compared our stories. “If not for the difference in timing, our planes could have passed in the sky,” I said in my e-mail. We declared ourselves “Transylvanian sisters.” Aura even introduced me to her publisher--a generous offer from a generous person. And that’s how two young girls with dreams influenced by the movies found each other as adults.

For a bit of related trivia, see the latest Transylvania Trivia on my website. For more about the writing life, look for Carolyn See’s book, Making a Literary Life, published by Random House. Check out Aura’s website at

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