Interview with Aura Imbarus

ED- The Eerie Digest is happy to present author Aura Imbarus to all our readers. Aura, you originally hail from Romania and moved to Los Angeles. Your book ‘Out of the Transylvania Night’ is about your epic journey from that land to ours. Tell us about your beginnings in Eastern Europe and the impact it has had on your life.

AI- I was born and raised in Transylvania, in Sibiu, a city that was named Cultural Capital of Europe in 2007, and was considered by Forbes the 8th most idyllic place to live in Europe. The architecture and the history of my homeland is more than intriguing, not necessarily due to Dracula or Vlad Dracul under his real name, but because of the Bran, Hunedoara, Peles, Rasnov, Fagaras castles and Sighisoara, Biertan, Sibiu, Brasov, medieval towns and citadels. The region of Transylvania has a rich historic heritage, from ancient fortresses and temples to medieval towns, churches and castles to renaissance and baroque palaces. Some of the castles and fortresses perished, many lie in ruins, and some have endured throughout the passing of time, witnesses of a glorious as well as turbulent history. Transylvania, which means the land beyond the forest, was first referred to in a Medieval Latin document in 1075 as ultra silvam. Surrounded by nature, legends and folktales, I grew up in a Romanian family of Greek roots, whose named was mentioned by prime ministers and famous historian in the annals of history. The Imbarus family was stripped of its properties, acres of arable land, green pastures and orchids, houses and money, their carriage transportation businesses, and order to join the Communist Party, like many other families. My Dad never yield while my uncles crossed the borders illegally, being caught and sent to Gherla, the most notorious prisons for political detainees. Our family was blacklisted for having ties with the west, Western Germany where my uncles, after a successful escape, settled down and talked against the regime on Free Europe Radio Station. Even if life during the Communist regime was harsh with rationed food, electricity and gas being monitored while the quota per family was cut down to the bare minimum, with the vision of long lines of people waiting as early as 3am to buy a litter of milk and a loaf of bread for their whole family, I was given an early education and care by my amazing grandparents and my parents. They taught me to be myself, no matter what, to believe in a brighter tomorrow and to educate myself to become “somebody.” I had their wholeheartedly support in being a rebel in the way I dressed myself, using my own creations, I dyed my hair in pink and green, and I thought and acted accordingly.

ED- Life was extremely hard there, but your dreams for a better life had a great influence on your decision to come to America. Tell us how you prepared yourself for this move, and your own future.

AI- My parents have given me the wings to fly high, and the hopes that one day my life will change. Since I was five years old, I was tutored in foreign languages, even if that was forbidden by the regime, for Romania didn’t have any ties with the western world. I was sent to ballet, volleyball, and track-and-field. I was taught how to paint and draw, and how to use my creativity in each and every small thing I did. They have given me the reason to be, to love, and to live life to the fullest. Since I was fourteen, I have been constantly telling my parents that I will end up in the country with big palm trees and never-ending blue waters and clear skies. I knew that my life will not unfold in Romania, and, one way or another, I will end up in the US. It has been my vision and my dream to live in LA. I applied for the Green Card Lottery in 1996, a targeted immigration program, and I was one of the 55,000 winners, out of a pool of 8 million applicants. My vision became reality; in 1997, on May 7, I landed in LA, the City of Angeles with two pieces of luggage and a huge American Dream ready to tackle.

ED- Tell us about your education overseas and your continuing education once you arrived here.

AI- My Romanian education was given in the most possible Spartan ways. I had fifteen subjects in high school, a tough high school entrance exam, a seven-subject test as a high school exit exam. My life depended on all of these tests in order to move on to the next level. As a student you were held back until you would pass all the tests and prove that you mastered all the grade related subjects. When I was admitted to college, it was based on a strenuous entrance exam made out of three subjects. During each winter and summer exam sessions, I would loose fifteen pounds in the all nighters, pulled one after the other. My summer reading list consisted of minimum twenty books that I would have to devour without Cliffnotes, Sparknotes, and Internet. It was brutal, but it was the best type of education I have ever encountered in my life. My BA, MA and my PhD found their equivalency in the American educational system; on top of that, I went to UCLA to receive TESOL, TEFL and CLAD credentials.

ED- You then endeavored to teach others upon graduation. Tell us about this part of your life.

AI- Teaching is the best way of learning new things or refresh your mind when is coming down to old ones. I have always loved people, and the ability to inspire others has been one of the primal focuses of my life. Teaching relies on psychology, and I had had numerous hours in this subject and in teaching methodology. The human mind is the most intricate thing that was ever created, and to be able to mold it into the final product you want to achieve is a challenging journey. I loved and love humans and their happiness is my happiness, and from there comes the desire to share by teaching and spreading knowledge, while absorbing positive energy in return. In Transylvania, I used to teach for my alma mater in Sibiu, Lucian Blaga University, while embracing journalism. Here in the US, I have been teaching for the public educational system, and I can say that it has been a remarkable journey that has given me many satisfactions.

ED- Tell us about your life style here and how it affected you and your writing.

AI- My life style was altered when I first came to the US, for I started with 400 dollars in a bank account. I worked for the hotel industry for a year, adding American experience under my belt. It was not easy to leave a house, a nice car, a great assistant professor position, a certain status that I had in Transylvania, and come here to start from square one. My rollercoaster journey has given me the facts, the tearful stories all gathered in my memoir “Out of the Transylvania Night,” which has three parts dealing with my life in Romania during the communist regime, after the fall of Ceausescu, and my life in the US, chasing the American Dream and the house with the white picket fences. Each experience was the headstone for another path, another tunnel that I really didn’t know where and how is going to end. Being away from my family has not been easy, even if our phone conversations happened daily. My emotions transpire in my rapidly-paced writing, giving away my desires, my inabilities, my internal struggles, my mistakes and regrets, my love and admiration for people I came in contact with.

ED- Your book is inspirational. Please share this, and the story in the book, with all of us.

AI- “Out of the Transylvania Night” has many layers, starting with cultural, social, mystical, and economical and, of course, last but not least, a love story. It represents the pursue of happiness and the achievement of the American Dream, the ups and downs of a fast-paced life in the city that never sleeps – Los Angeles. It deploys the coming together and the falling apart scenes of a family of immigrants who lost the vision, love, and care in the process of blending in and keeping up with the Joneses. A story of a Transylvanian Cinderella, it is also a portrayal of life’s dreams and resolutions in the New World, premonitions and déjà-vu, Transylvania’s existence and categorical life imperatives. As love furtively sneaks out when you least expect it, it also creeps in at the right time on the wings of hope. The memoir summarizes human’s desires in an ever-changing world, more demanding and strenuously competitive, where money and material possessions would, for a while, dominate my existence, only to dissipate as dreams vanish at the crack of dawn, into a more rooted and logically supported existence plagued by ethics, intelligence, charisma and sensibility. It has something for everybody and it pertains to any culture and religion, any background and financial status.

ED- Where can we find it and who is the publisher?

AI- The book’s official release date is Sept 27, but readers can already find it in Barnes and Noble and Borders stores, on line, on Amazon.com, and on my website: www.auraimbarus.com My publisher is an accomplisher writer, former university professor and administrator, Dr Bettie. B Youngs. She is the critically acclaimed author of thirty-six books translated into twenty-four languages. Dr. Youngs is a former Teacher-of-the-Year, and University Professor of Educational Administration and Management, Graduate Division. Though Bettie’s earlier work focused on education and developmental issues for youth, family and educators, in recent years she is best known for her series of poignantly written short-story books that clearly and warmly elucidate the human spirit, captivating the American psyche and winning her wide-range appeal with audiences young and old alike. Bettie is the recipient of numerous publishing awards, including having an Imprint bearing her name. She is Founder and CEO of Bettie Youngs Books Publishing Co. www.BettieYoungsBooks.com 
and Founder and co-publisher of Teen Town Press, an imprint for teens.

ED- Please reveal some of the accolades that have been bestowed on this work by some of the most renowned critics in America.

AI – The main endorser of my book is Nadia Comaneci, the Olympic gold medalist who said that, “Aura’s courage shows the degree to which we are all willing to live lives centered on freedom, hope, and an authentic sense of self. Truly a love story!”

What People Are Saying about This Book . . .

Unforgettable! This book gives the pioneer spirit courage and the brave heart bravado.

—Adrian Maher, filmmaker, Discovery Channel

If you grew up hearing names like Tito, Mao, and Ceausescu but really didn’t understand their significance, read this book!

—Mark Skidmore, Paramount Pictures

A remarkable account erasing a past, but not an identity. Thought-provoking, inspirational—and comforting.

—Todd Greenfield, 20th Century Fox Studios

This book is sure to find its place in memorial literature of the world.

—Beatrice Ungar, editor-in-chief, Hermannstädter Zeitung

Out of the Transylvania Night is a compelling and spelling-binding story of a fiercely independent young woman growing up at the height of worldwide Communist power and then the rapid fall of the Iron Curtain. We must never forget what her story ultimately teaches . . .

—Sharrie Williams, author, The Maybelline Story—and the Spirited Family Dynasty behind It

Under Communism, Aura’s family lost its fortune but kept their jewels. Under capitalism, she made a fortune and lost the jewels. And then lost the fortune as well. Such is the paradox found within the pages of this amazing and unforgettable story.

—Lindy Hudis, producer, Impact Motion Pictures

We all have much to learn about freedom; certainly anyone born without it will search until they find it. This is an incredible story about pain, strength, courage, defiance, and healing.

—David Haspel, producer

Out of the Transylvania Night presents an emotional journey through both free and closed societies, revealing how freedom is also found in the self and not only the destination.

—Ilie T. Ardelean, founding chairman and president, Romanian-American Professional Network (RAPN)

Out of the Transylvania Night is an exciting and truly memorable search for personal freedom.

—Alexander R. Marmureanu, MD, president and CEO, California Heart and Lung Surgery Center, UCLA Medical Center

To remember is a tedious, hurtful process, especially if you lived what us Romanians did. Many of us prefer to forget and to erase, once for all, those humiliating memories. But, can you really annul your childhood? Aura’s capacity to remember and to dream makes this a book for all who, at one point or another, need to restart or reboot their lives—and in her case, to find a new country to call “home.”

—Daniela Crasnaru, famous Romanian poet

There are many beautiful places in the world, and I’m sure this book will put Romania on your list of “must see” countries. Aura’s story is an eye-opener about the beauty and richness of the culture and people of Romania, and I applaud her for sharing these experiences with us.

—Mike Costache, president, Miss Universe Romania Organization

Out of the Transylvania Night reveals, beyond all doubt, the power and range of an individual’s voice to be heard above the noise of dissent and the struggle to reign over oppression.

—Prof. Rajen Vurdien, PhD, Saddleback College, and former diplomat, United Nations Development Program language coordinator in China

Out of the Transylvania Night is a testament to the majesty of the human spirit to see how far we will go to triumph over oppression and adversity. We are better for the journey through this book.

—Catalina Popescu, Romanian celebrity, founder of the famous Catalina Bar and Grill Jazz Club

ED- Is there a possibility of a film for your book?

AI- Yes, the book had been presented to the entertainment industry, and the negotiations are in full speed; we hope to reach a deal by the end of this year.

ED- You also have another book out for younger people. Please tell us about it.

AI- My second book, “101 Great Ways to Make the World a Totally Awesome Place – By Teens For Teens.” Today’s teens have a lot to say about how our world can be a safer, kinder, better place to be. In this book, I compiled as a high school educator extraordinaire, stories about the most stringent issue teens from around the country deal with; they share their vision for creating a better world and ideas on how we can go about it.

ED- Aura, your book is certainly inspirational and many people today should find it in their interest to read it. We wish you much luck and hope the best for you in the future. I thank you for sharing your time with us and hope that we can hear from you again in the near future.