Monday, May 23, 2016

Lost Path to Solitude by Maria Elena Sandovici: Author Interview + Giveaway


(A Follow-Up to Dogs With Bagels)


Maria Elena Sandovici
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: February 12, 2016
# of pages: 315
Scroll down for Giveaway!
Once you leave home, can you ever return? Two characters, mother and daughter, contemplate this question in Lost Path to Solitude. Twenty-five years after leaving Romania in order to follow the man she loves to New York, Maria Pop still struggles with accepting her decision. She is determined to go back and recapture the poetry and joy of life in Bucharest, even at the expense of risking her marriage. Meanwhile, her daughter, Liliana, second-guesses her own choice of moving to a small town in Southeast Texas, ironically called Solitude, where she finds herself lonely, bored, and nostalgic for the fast pace of life in New York City. Facing the claustrophobic social climate of a town that goes to bed early, as well as the constrictions of her emerging academic career, Liliana longs for something that would give her existence meaning. The parallel soul-searching and the frustration they experience does little to bring mother and daughter closer. Instead, as each struggles with finding her own place in the world, they become increasingly critical of each other. Will their relationship survive the growing pains they each must suffer in their quest for self-fulfillment?

How has being a Texan influenced your writing?
Wait, am I a Texan? They say it takes ten years to become a New Yorker, but after surviving two hurricanes, learning how drive like a bat out of hell, and acquiring a taste for potato salad in my very own home-made gumbo, my status as a Texan still seems uncertain. I’ve lived in many places, and Texas is unique among them. It’s made a strong impression on me and inserted itself into my writing. It’s more than a setting that I needed to write about. It’s a feeling, actually a set of conflicting feelings. It’s a character, with all the complexities, charms, flaws, infuriating and lovable traits my characters tend to have.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?
I write daily essays to accompany the watercolors on my blog. I also write novels. And poetry in my dog’s voice.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?
I lead a double life: I teach Political Science at Lamar University in Beaumont. I write in my spare time. Sometimes I feel that having limited time and energy for writing inspires me. Other times I long for the luxury and freedom of writing full-time.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
When the characters take over. It happened a lot in Lost Path to Solitude. I knew what the characters would say or do. They seemed to have a will of their own. It was magical. I loved it. I hope it happens to me with other books as well.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 
Figuring out what to leave out.

Who would you cast to play your characters in a movie version of your book?
I’d love for Penelope Cruz to play Maria. I have a huge crush on her.

How does your book relate to your spiritual practice?
Daily writing is my spiritual practice, my meditation, my way of trying to cultivate patience and discipline, but also to attune myself, however briefly, with the divine. The fiction that I write lets me explore life paths I haven’t taken. Sometimes it soothes my existential angst. Sometimes it heightens it.

What projects are you working on at the present?
I’m working on a novel called Lone Wolf. It’s about a woman who flees a small town because she finds its community stifling.

If you could speak with any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?
Texas! I’m working on it, y’all! One day I will open my mouth and nobody will say the damning words: You don’t sound like you’re from around here.

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?
Most definitely a giraffe.

If you were a superhero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?
I am a superhero, and so is my dog.

Maria Elena Sandovici moved to Texas on a Greyhound bus in the summer of 2005. It would be the beginning of a great adventure. Born in Bucharest, Romania, a place she loves and where she returns often, she’d spend the requisite time in Manhattan to call herself a New Yorker, but also to know she was looking for something else. Her debut novel, Dogs with Bagels, is very much a New York story: the story of an immigrant family forging new identities for themselves in the city that never sleeps. 
Her second novel, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, is the story of a young woman traveling the world in search of herself. This theme persists in Lost Path to Solitude, her third novel, in which characters suffering an identity crisis are caught in a search for the ideal place to call home. Three locales dominate the story: New York City, Bucharest, and an imaginary, caricaturized town in Southeast Texas, called Solitude. In addition to writing fiction, Maria Elena Sandovici paints every day. She has a studio at Hardy and Nance Studios in Houston, and also shows her daily watercolors on her blog, Have Watercolors Will Travel, accompanied by essays about whatever inspires or obsesses her at any given moment. To support her art and writing, she teaches Political Science at Lamar University. She is also the well-behaved human of a feisty little dog.  Her favorite places in Texas are Houston and Galveston. 

  May 23 - June 1, 2016
Check out the other great blogs on the tour!  

5/23   Missus Gonzo    Review    
5/24   It's a Jenn World – Author Interview #1
5/25   Country Girl Bookaholic  – Promo
5/26   Forgotten Winds  -- Review
5/27   Texas Book Lover  – Guest Post #1
5/28   My Book Fix Blog – Excerpt              
5/29   Hall Ways BlogReview
5/30   The Page Unbound – Author Interview #2
5/31   StoreyBook Reviews      – Review
6/1     A Novel Reality – Guest Post #2
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  1. I like how Elena says the characters took over when she was writing -- that it was magical! How cool that must be. Thanks for the Q&A and Giveaway!

  2. Thank you, Kristine, that was my favorie experience in writing this book! Makes me want to write yet another one about these characters, since I have such a connection to them.