Cornelia Popa

for the love of books

  I like books. I like the smell of books. I like to hold a book in my hands and let my imagination build the world I am reading about. Imagination can give you wings. I hope you can fly with me through my writing!

  I was born in Romania, on a sunny day in December. As a child, most of my summer holidays were spent reading at my grandparents' house. It was my summer paradise - with my brother, sister and our two cousins, a garden full of fruit trees to climb on, cats, chickens, ducks and the City library to borrow books from! I enjoyed all the books: science fiction, detective stories and love stories. I guess that the detective stories "started" my analytical mind, which always looked deeper for the truth.

   When I started grade eight I moved to another school and met Iulia, the music teacher's daughter. We were class-mates just for one year, but have remained best friends to this day, hopefully for a lifetime! At her suggestion we started to write letters to each other some days after school, letters that we exchanged the next day (I still have her letters at my mother's house!); we also wrote to each other during the summer holidays. Unlike talking on the phone, where words are "lost" in the air, the written words are still there, even many years later. As the wise old Latin proverb states: "Verba volant, scripta manent". It is always interesting to "see" the person you used to be through your or others' writings!

   I was fortunate enough to have met my other best friend, Anca, in my grade nine High School year, and I also exchanged letters with her during summer breaks. I still remember the joy I felt when the postman brought me a letter from one of my friends! High School was a very interesting time, when I tried to convey my overflowing heart's feelings by writing short poems and short prose. It was the time of reading Honore de Balzac, Romain Rolland, Guy de Maupassant, Stefan Zweig, and their wonderful books helped me understand human emotions and reactions better than a psychology course could ever have!

   After High School, my analytical mind thrived for five years as a student at “Politechnica” University of Bucharest, where I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer. The year I graduated I got married and got employed in a Bank. The years flew by, I had my first child, then my second, then finally my third… and I had no more time for reading or writing. It was a time of strollers, parks, baby food and lullabies, when my creative side was mostly hidden!

   In 2008, when my little girl, Maria, was three years old, we relocated to Canada. For my kids, I started to read stories, different that the ones I grew up with, and my passion for reading got reactivated. I especially liked one book my kindergarten girl, Gabriela, brought home one day from the school's library: "The Great Grandmother's Treasure" by Ruth Hickcox. It was exactly the kind of warmth I wanted to find in a book!

   Then one day, I found a flyer in the mail from the Institute of Children's Literature, inviting me to take a writing aptitude test. The 250 word story I wrote for this test is still my favorite! And with this, my creative side found its expression! I was accepted as a student and finished two wonderful courses, "Writing for Children and Teenagers" and "Writing and Selling Children's Books". Writing balanced my analytical side, which involves finding the action, and my emotional side, who expresses the action.

   In 2013, when my oldest son, Mihai, was in grade six I found out about the Young Writer's Conference, held annually in Calgary. I volunteered and got accepted as a hostess for a published writer's workshop, and hosted workshops for Gail Sidonie Sobat in 2013,  Joseph Simons in 2014, Cathy Beveridge in 2015, Judy Doofoo in 2016 and Amelia Lionheart in 2017. I admired how the presenter engaged those kids, and how easy the kids come up with such descriptive pieces of writing!

   When I was still a child (are you not still a child at age 18?) I came across Jim Rohn's saying: "If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse."  This, and the fact that a good heart always counts, is the best I can hope to pass on to any child that reads my books.