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, said in a recent interview with The Associated Press at the Soho Grand hotel. "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," said 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" 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 said.
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 said. She didn't disclose the financial terms of Bujor's book deal.
"I was really impressed by her writing skills," Schneider said. "It's a very imaginative story, it's an emotional story, it's an exciting adventure."
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. However, her age was noted in promotional efforts. 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. ... I don't think the book is for any age in particular," she said. "The book doesn't have to be a reflection of my age; it's just a book on its own."
And she doesn't want to be typecast as a young adult author. 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. "My way of writing has changed a lot. My next book will have to be different, because I am different."
Different, yes, but also determined to be a normal teenager. That means promotional tours only during school holidays, continuing her schooling and moving ahead with plans to attend university, which she says is how her book royalties will be used.
Her parents don't add to the hype. They would not talk to the AP about their daughter and they don't attend her promotional events.
Even after college, Bujor plans to continue writing but plans to do something else professionally. She doesn't know what that's going to be yet, but she's sure her life will involve more than sitting in the house, writing from dawn to dusk.
But for now, she enjoys being 15, taking piano lessons and hanging out with friends.
"I want to keep publishing, but I have other obligations in my life," she said. "I don't want to dramatically alter my life because of my book."
By Deepti Hajela