New book about Magura

Dalia cover smallWell… almost. My latest book for children is the second book set in a village with startling resemblance to Magura, which in the books is called Fân.

Dahlia’s Pet Detectives (Dalia si micii detectivi) will be in the spotlight at the end of next week (Thursday 31st May, Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd June) when my new book is launched at Bucuresti’s Bookfest (Romexpo).

If you read Floss the lost puppy, you’ll recognise the village of Fân (Hay) where Dahlia and Chip are neighbours and schoolmates of Thea and Tudor Thimble. A completely new story, but set in the same Transylvanian village, high up in the Carpathian Mountains.

I have a Pinterest board devoted to pictures of cats like Onyx, and crows like Gossip. So you can see what Dahlia’s friends look like as you read their adventures…

I’ll be waiting to meet you on the Booklet Fiction stand on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at midday, ready to sign your copies. Come and say hello!

Read more about Dahlia and her friends here!

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Greenly warmer

IMG_5406Spring is well sprung. Compared to last year, when the end of April saw me wading through knee-deep snow in late April, wrapped in thermal layers against the -8C freeze, this year it was sun, and no rain all month so we were beginning to face the horrible prospect of drought.

But early May has seen lots of gentle rain and the very occasional thunderstorm, which is perfect for the earth and growing things. ‘Nori si soare’ says the weather forecast. Occasional ‘furtuna’ warnings with lightning symbols lancing through the cloud, and so it’s proving. Perfect mixed weather for the cycle of wildflower meadows and sweet hay, and happy herbivores munching through lush spring grass. Glorious.

It’s white and cold – still February

This was today. This is winter in the village. Saturday – I woke up late (10am, shameful) to find more snow falling. Forecast is dire. Fridge close to empty, gas bottle getting light. If I don’t go down to Zarnesti NOW, I might be stuck for weeks. So…

Car under tarpaulin so that’s okay – no shovelling of snow off the vehicle. But the battery is dead as the proverbial dodo. Trudge up to the neighbour and beg for help. He’s happy, as ever, and cracks open the crocodile clips and the power pack with the longest cable imaginable – about half a mile of it, seemingly. Bonnet up, clips clipped to battery, men retire to shed, I sit in chilly car while juice flows to battery. Now then I try the ignition and slowly, slowly, there are signs of life. After 20 minutes, the ignition roars. I hoot for neighbours and they come back, unclip clips and carry on with their day. I owe them beer and more.

Off to Zarnesti. Gas bottle swapped (69 lei today), Husqvarna chainsaw chain not to be had anywhere, not even for ready money. Off to Lidl to stock up on cat food and me food, for a siege. Snow bucketing down, blotting out all but nearby buildings. Magura hills invisible under snowful low cloud. Shoppers scurrying in and out, wrapped in fleeces, hats, scarves, boots. Intent on doing only the necessary before retreating to warm homes.

Me too. Scurry to car, load up and flee. Not really cold, just -2.5C, so nothing is freezing yet. The car pootles unconcernedly into the national park and up the hairpin road, snow settling fast but not yet icing over. Even the north-facing track, with new snow on the old iced ruts, is no problem for my heroic little car.

Do I drive down to the house with my heavy shopping and the full gas bottle – and risk being snowed in for two weeks? Or drag the gas bottle down, then make two more journeys for the shopping? Lazy. Drive down, unload, and spread the tarpaulin.

Shopping in, then have to go out and get wood from shed to light fire. Feed cats, who missed lunch.

All urgent wintery chores done, it’s 3.30pm. On with my postponed working day….

The book that made Magura famous

Grab the chance to get my book cheap, in time for Mos Craciun, with the lovely discounts at librarie.ro! The online bookshop is almost giving the book away – a lifelong present for the cost of a couple of coffees. How could you resist?

Book cover, Din Liverpool in Carpati, Arabella McIntyre-Brown, TransilvaniaReaders have said:

“…extrem de sensibilă în fața miracolului naturii, împovărată de un trecut cu lumini și umbre, frământată de griji cotidiene, o femeie despre care cred însă că nu e conștientă de farmecul pe care-l posedă fiind timidă și în prea mare măsură rezervată.”

“You lend us your sharp eyes and understanding. You make us understand ourselves better, you make us better understand you. You give us importance by understanding us better than we sometimes do. Your book gives us hope in a world where we have lost heaven.

A real painter in touch with the pure essence of things and beings. I found myself immersed into a dialogue with you, dear Arabella, about solitude, the energy that comes from living close to nature, the joy of being present to the sounds of the forest.”

I simply love the way in which it is written, the fact that the words can make me actually SEE/FEEL your world, is just brilliant!”

I’ve appreciated both your humour and your self-irony or the finger pointed at various strange characters you’ve come across … I got carried away…”

“The book is unlike anything I’ve read, full of emotion, in which the author puts her heart out for you, so it’s impossible not to be moved. And the language is so normal, alive, it’s like a friend whom you haven’t seen in a long time.”

“I had a ‘white’ night last night. I couldn’t take my hands off your book. It made me laugh, it made me cry or both at the same time. Regardless of what this country has been giving you, I am sure I speak on behalf of all of your Romanian friends when saying: “Thank you for what YOU give us.”

“Honest, deeply sensitive, beautifully expressed. What a fabulous book this is.”

“…the quality of your writing is top-notch and I adore the naturalness of your use of metaphor: ‘longing for dreamless oblivion cradled in the city’s roar’, ‘I’m a molecule on the skin of the earth’ and your precise punctuation, which gives your writing such a lovely flow.”

“Really, it’s wonderful – you’ve basically opened the door to a different way of seeing and understanding Romania.”

“…fascinating, and it reads just as you talk, flows so naturally. … Your chapter on Ginny was painful to read,  powerful and compelling as the reader joins you every step of the way as you navigate the darkest of times.”

Buy the book online here!

More maps to orientate you

These are two of the seven maps I’ve uploaded to the ‘Where we are‘ page, which should give you a better idea of where we are, from Romania’s place in Europe to the coordinates of the village. Now you have no excuse for not finding us…

More books to read here

I’ve updated the books page on this site with two new entries on the non-fiction page and an interloping entry on the fiction page. If you’re coming to Transylvania, or have been here, and want to read more, here are some cracking books to buy or borrow. Here’s the non-fiction page to start with.

Thunderstorm magic – cool down

Yesterday, Magura had the best of a gentle thunderstorm (must have been violent off to the south-west) with a hail shower, distant lightning and rumbling thunder. This cool, damp greenery makes for relaxing viewing in these two little vids. In the first, you can hear the huge hailstones clattering and bouncing off the house; in the second, the birds, animals and insects keep singing as the thunder growls over the Bucegi Mountains. A classic countryside moment to cool down all you overheated city dwellers, sticky with humidity and longing for the cold sting of rain…

DSCF1982_2 cloud and sun

Sun and shadow as the weather changes