Communism refugee self-publishes novels

Camelia Skiba spent the first 19 years of her life in communist Romania, where she didn’t have consistent access to electricity or water.

Now, she has self-published two novels, is working on several short stories and serves as an assistant to the director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

All of Skiba’s literary works have been written in English, despite her first language being Romanian. She speaks Romanian, German and English and has lived in Austria, Germany and Hungary.

Her first short story, “I Was There Before You Came,” was published by Prose by Design in June 2012.

Skiba’s story was one of eight winners in a young adult clean romance genre. The genre excluded any sexual content.

The story was selected to be included in the summer anthology, “It’s a Love Thing.”

In it, a bastard son of a Dacian king seeks revenge against the Romans and kidnaps the daughter of a Roman emperor.

She published her own novels after taking online writing courses, researching publishing options and joining several writing clubs.

“Traditional publishing is actually not for me,” Skiba said. “I like to be in control. I look at my books as my babies, and I like to have control over them.”

She began writing in 2009 after her son encouraged her to pursue her childhood dream of writing a book in English. She published her first book in March 2011.

Rebecca Polley, manager of academic programs for the School of Earth and Space Exploration, said she read Skiba’s first novel and was unaware of Skiba’s talent.

“It’s amazing that Cami could put a story like that together in a language that wasn’t her first,” Polley said.

Skiba published her second book, “A World Apart,” in December 2011.

It takes place during the Iraq War and describes a Romanian officer’s search for the national army.

Skiba spent two years researching the war and military bases.

Growing up in a communist country, Skiba said she had to find herself in spite of the challenges she faced.

“When you are captive or when you are kept in the dark for so long, you have a choice,” Skiba said.  “You can be bitter because of all that you have been (has been) stripped (away) from (you) or become better.”

Skiba said she chose to look at life in a positive way.

“I figured impossible is another way of possible,” she said. “I am possible. I don’t believe in not being able to do something.  I don’t think I’ve ever set my mind on something I haven’t accomplished.”

She immigrated from Romania after she married her husband and arrived in America in September 2003.

Skiba began working at ASU shortly afterward and hopes to one day retire from the school.

Teresa Robinette, assistant director for research advancement at the School of Earth and Space Exploration, said she has read all of Skiba’s books and enjoys Skiba’s perspective on different views.

“She just has an infectious appreciation for the (U.S.),” Robinette said. “Cami sees things a lot clearer than somebody who has lived in the States for a long time.”

Skiba said she had never felt more at home than in the U.S.

“What makes it feel like home is people being friendly, nice and laidback,” Skiba said.

Skiba plans on releasing her second short story by December, a third short story by summer 2013 and a novel by December 2013.

 

Reach the reporter at jcsolis@asu.edu or on Twitter @jackiecsolis