Saturday, April 24, 2004

Book's success surprises teen author

By Deepti Hajela
The Associated Press

Romanian-born teen author Flavia Bujor, 15, wrote The Prophecy of the Stones when she was 12.
The Associated Press/ED BAILEY

After a few years of starting stories that never got finished, Flavia Bujor decided it was time she completed something.

So at the age of 12, she decided to write a novel. She was 14 when the book was published.

Writing "was a passion for me since I was very young," Bujor, now 15, says. "I had written a lot of little things when I was growing up."

Bujor, who lives in Paris, was in New York last week to promote the American release of her book, The Prophecy of the Stones. It's the story of a hospitalized young girl who imagines another world where three heroines band together with the help of some magical stones to save their land.

The book has made it onto best-seller lists in Europe, and more than 20 publishers elsewhere in the world have bought the rights to put it out in their countries. Miramax/Hyperion Books for Children released it in the United States at the beginning of April.

Success comes as a surprise to Bujor, who wrote the book primarily to see if she could. She would write a chapter and then pass the work on to family and friends to see if they liked it and thought she should continue.

"For me it's like a dream," says Bujor, a soft-spoken, slender and tall young woman with long brown hair. "I really didn't think it was possible to publish it."

The Prophecy of the Stones ($16.95) caught the attention of a French publishing house when a distant family friend sent in some pages Bujor had mailed to him for his opinion. Publisher Anne Carriere contacted Bujor, ready to offer her a contract, before she had finished reading it.

"I was astonished by her maturity and I thought it was very amazing that a such a young girl can write like that," Carriere says.

Since then, the novel has sold 20,000 copies in France and Italy, and more than 30,000 in Germany. In the United States, the initial print run is 65,000 copies, publisher Kathy Schneider of Miramax says. She didn't disclose the financial terms of Bujor's book deal.

"I was really impressed by her writing skills," Schneider says. "It's a very imaginative story."

In France, where the Romanian-born Bujor has lived since she was 2 with her sculptor father and psychoanalyst mother, the book wasn't marketed to young adults. Bujor prefers it that way.

"It's not really a good thing to say a book is for adults or young adults. It's better to give it a chance to touch everyone," she says.

She's already at work on her second novel, which she says will be nothing like her first. "I really don't want people to think ... I will always write this kind of book. It was just a beginning," she said.

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