Introducing Stella May

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Hello, my name is Marina Sardarova. Stella May is my pen name (or my alter ego). In many regards, we are very different, even though she is me. She’s more daring, braver and self-assured; she knows exactly what she wants. She writes because she loves it and because she has stories inside of her. She never listens when people tell her she cannot do something simply because it’s impossible. She believes in herself. In short- she’s a much better version of myself.

I was born in the sixties of the last century in a country that doesn’t exist anymore: the former Soviet Union. However, I am not Russian–I’m Armenian, and proud of my heritage.

Literature and music are my two great passions. My maternal grandparents were both professional singers; my father was a jazz guitarist. My brother and I both finished musical colleges. I graduated from a Conservatory (or Music Academy) with a diploma in musicology.

When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a concert pianist. Or an artist. Or even a famous poet. I was practicing piano for hours, sketching and writing some plays and poetry. And, of course, reading books. I don’t remember myself without a book. Ever. My aunt had a huge home library that was my absolutely most favorite place on earth. I had a very happy childhood indeed!

When I moved to the United States, to a country where everything was so different (including language), I quickly realized that I needed to learn English more than I needed to eat. Because while I could easily survive on water and bread, I absolutely refused to live without books. And so, I taught myself English (with the help of children’s books and cartoons), and my dear neighbor, Mrs. Foster (God rest her beautiful soul). She truly believed I understood whatever she was saying, so she’d engage me in a long conversations whenever she could, and demanded (in her own patient and kind way) a response. She left me no choice.

As soon as I was able to read books (with a dictionary at first), my life became whole again. And the absolutely crazy idea of writing started to slowly emerge from somewhere within.

I began to write in secret, penning a few sentences here and there, using my son’s discarded, half-used notebooks. When my husband brought home our very first computer, a chunky heavyweight Compaq, I discovered Microsoft Works (how many people still remember that program?). Of course, he purchased it for business purposes, with the silly notion that I would learn spreadsheets and accounting . . . poor misguided soul.

Instead, I spent every free moment in front of my beloved computer learning to type, writing my heart away.

I guess that’s when Stella May first started to emerge. She didn’t have her own name yet, or her own identity. She was still hiding behind me, unsure and hesitant.

Then, one night, I saw in my dream a very young woman, almost a girl, who was standing in a middle of a crowd, clutching a baby. She was skinny, badly dressed and scared. She had green eyes and curly red hair, and her name was Natasha. She was at the JFK airport. Somehow, I knew that. I also knew that the baby wasn’t hers. Above her head I saw a banner: Welcome to the United States of America. And that’s how the idea of Rostoff saga (Once & Forever ) came to me. And that’s when Stella May was born.

It took me twenty years, between raising my son and running a business with my husband, to bring this story to life. In 2018, after many unsuccessful attempts to submit my book to a traditional publisher, I split my first book into three parts (my son’s brilliant idea), and self-published it as the separate books: The Children, The Parents, and The Lovers. I sold more than 1100 copies.

After I said good-bye to the Rostoffs, I almost had postpartum depression (ha-ha) until I started to play with the idea of past-lives remembrances and dreams. I decided to read more on the subject . . . and the idea of Rhapsody in Dreams came to life. This time around, I deliberately chose to self-publish my book instead from the get-go. In July 2019, I introduced my second child to the world.

While still in a middle of Kira and Al’s story, my husband and I visited Amelia Island, FL. I immediately knew that I will set my next book there. And since the whole atmosphere of the place seems to be frozen in Victorian time, what choice do I have but to start on a time-travel fantasy romance? None.

Before & After (that’s a tentative name of my work in progress) will hopefully be released next summer.

I’m enjoying the process of writing tremendously, every single moment of it, be to a smooth sailing or a rough stumbling. I love when my heroes talk to me (in my head), when they do and act as I expect. I love it even more when they start to argue and misbehave, digging their heels and dragging me away from the story line or a well-panned dialog. I’m having fun.

Oh, and why Stella May? Well, it’s really simple: Stella is the name of my favorite aunt whom I adore; May is my birth month. And the initials – S M – are my own, only in reverse.

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