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An Interview with Eva Halus, author of Sketch With Animals and other stories

halus

Eva Halus is an author of 17 published books and has 3 other books in manuscripts. She is also a painter, photographer, and illustrator of her own books. Eva debuted with poetry in 2009, publishing 6 other poetry books afterwards. As a journalist for 14 years, permanent collaborator at Accent Montreal and various other newspapers on paper and online, she published together with a well-known Romanian TV and Radio Journalist from Timisoara, Romania, (Veronica Balaj) 3 books of interviews with Romanian-born personalities from Montreal (2016, 2018 and 2019).

In 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, Eva started to write stories for children of all ages to self-nourish the need for freedom, imagining other places and universes physically out of reach. The first of these books, Voyage (in French) received in 2022 the Jacques Prévert Prize from the Society of French Poets from Paris (https://societedespoetesfrancais.eu) and the second book, self-published, a collection of stories with animals, titled Sketch with Animals and Other Stories, raised the attention of Atmosphere Publishing Press, but the author delayed the publication for a later time. The third book for teenagers, published in Romanian in 2022, a sci-fi this time, happening in the 23rd century on the planet Ceres and in a Japanese Garden in Kyoto, Japan, received also a prize for originality.

Eva Halus does translations for other authors from French to English to Romanian and her poetry and texts appear in various anthologies and other publications. Her prose is lyrical as her poetry, transcended by philosophy and equally humour. Eva is a member of the League of Canadian Poets (LPC), of La Union des écrivains québécois (UNEQ), a correspondent member of Société des Poétes Français (SPF), of the International Association of Romanian Journalists (AJRP), of the Association of Romanian Language Writers from Québec (ASLRQ) and of the American-Romanian Academy of Arts and Science (ARA). As a visual artist she is a member of several artists associations in Canada.


Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I was writing poetry and essays in college, in Romania (1982-1986) and I joined a group of teenagers my age who were also writing, painting and composing and playing music We had few places where we were gathering and doing shows together. In Romania it was still the communist regime, and our meetings were quite clandestine. Arriving in 1989 in Canada, I followed my dream to study Graphic Design at Concordia University in Montreal, but after completing my studies, I decided that I like more painting. I was sometimes writing my thoughts or poems on notebooks, and decided to publish a first poetry volume, retrospective, in 2009 at Reflection Publishing in California. At that time, being again in contact with many Romanian people writers, film directors, painters, at the Community Center in Montreal, where I became artistic director for the cultural events, book launches, etc., the Muses (Calliope) visited me again and since, I published almost every year a new book!

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

As I mentioned, I am a cultural journalist covering Arts and Culture and Community and also a painter. In the last 12 years I started also to offer care to elderly people, mostly people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and in the last three years I am a member of an Art Therapies group from Concordia University, with a focus on the creation of Art Hives—public spaces opened to everyone, where people can come and create different projects, materials provided, interacting and socializing. The focus is also on well-being and self-care.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Sketch with Animals and Other Stories, a collection of 7 stories with animals close to people, (mostly domesticated), came to life in the first year of the pandemic, first of all because we had to isolate 2 months and writing about animals made me feel that I have friends! Creating their characters and modeling their actions that succeeded in the narration from one story to the other, I was giving them features, some proven, some invented:)…and made them laugh, cry and be loving and joyful…somehow as in theatrical piece of Pirandello (1867-1936), a playwriter that fascinated me in my youth with his surreal characters…and his influence can be truly be seen in the epilogue of my book, when all the animals that populated my short stories appear by surprise on…my appartement balcony! In the book, some of the stories are real and some inspired by real scenes I saw and then developed with a lot of fantasy.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

Oh, really good question! I did the cover myself drawing some of the animal characters in my book, and then rendering the drawings on computer. I self-published the book and actually, never had a chance to make a book-launch yet. So, the book’s life is still dormant…and in the shade. But I received just good comments from people who read it.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

The idea of a sound track would be great, because intertwined in the dialogues of my characters you can read woofs, purrs, buzzes, even brays, neighs, oinks and chirps! Now I have a question for you: do you guess who my uninvited guests on my balcony were?

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I am not the first author to attribute feelings and other features to animals, La Fontaine is known the best for his fables. But my intention when writing the book was actually different than his. I wanted to open to the reader a gate to a magical world of fairy tales, where the reader can see what animals think and feel, but kept my intention hidden because the animal characters seem very real in my stories. After reading this book, one might see different our connection to animals, to the environnement, to nature, to see a more subtle connection to our World, each one in his or her own way.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I sent the manuscript of a chapbook called The Progressive Poetry of Time to few contests. For another book, an artistic photography album with parks and forests of my neighborhood, and texts on the preservation of the environment written by few ecological associations, (also, texts of the History Society of my neighborhood that will tell in their stories What was here, in our neighborhood before), I am looking for a subvention to publish. Another project that is on my desk now is the translation of my latest sci-fi book published in Romanian, to French, eventually to English afterwards.


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