Behind the Curtain by Carolyn Mandache was published by Hearts and Stars Publishing on 25 May 2021.
Carolyn kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Behind the Curtain.
Behind the Curtain is a fictional account of my husband’s life in Romania until he met me and moved to Scotland. Florin’s childhood and the Communist regime he grew up under, was so different to my own. Difficult without a doubt, but he would not describe his early years as being unhappy and I hope this comes across in the book.
2. What inspired the book?
I wanted to learn more about the customs, history and culture of Romania, a country which has always made me feel very welcome. The media can be very negative about Romania and immigrants in general, especially with Brexit, so I wanted to create a story which would make people re-think Romania and attitudes towards immigrants. Florin and I have 4 kids, we want them to grow up to be proud of both their Scottish and Romanian roots.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I like to have a plan to work to and I use software called Novlr which I find very helpful. I keep my chapters listed on the left with relevant names, so I can easily find parts of the story I want to work on.
4. Was there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?
I was surprised how much I enjoyed researching for this book, at times getting too caught up in the interesting discoveries I made to actually write the book! However, I learned a lot, and the research certainly added authenticity to the book.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
My husband and I own a restaurant tech. company called time2dine, so I am kept busy with that, as well as spending time with my family. To relax I enjoy reading and drawing. As a family, we love to travel and explore other cultures.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
This is a tough question as I’ve read so many great books and hope to read many more. I will say To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a book that made a lasting impression on me as a child, and one which my own kids have read.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
If you could write one thing in a book that would become a reality, what would it be and why?
No one would be allowed more than 2 hours a day on a mobile phone, and everyone would accept that as a healthy way to live. I find it so sad that so many are addicted to phones, missing out on what’s going on around them, and growing distant from their families.
About the Book
Florin was born in Iasi, Romania. As a young boy, he lived through rationing and the harsh conditions of the Ceaucescu regime, but always with the love of family and friends to balance out the hardships and mask the struggles.
As he gets older, he tries to untangle his own beliefs from those forced upon him… was a Communist way of life a bad thing? Were the stories about the Roma people true? Was life in the west really as depraved as his country would have him believe?
Aged 11, on Christmas Day, Florin witnessed the exalted Ceaucescus shot to death on TV, the true feelings of the Romanian people finally stripped bare. From that historic moment, he knew his life in Romania would be a changed one.
This is a story of the strength of people in the face of dictatorship, how love can sustain people in even the worst of circumstances. Florin’s story and that of his family allow you to see behind the curtain.