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Deadly Destinations continues today with Jeaniene Frost. She is here to discuss Vlad Tepesh’s homes, current and old. To learn all about Vlad read Once Burned. Want to know our thought’s on Once Burned? Read my review here. One winner will win a signed copy of any book from Jeaniene’s backlist, winner’s choice. Thanks to Jeaniene for this giveaway!
Long before I started writing Once Burned, I’d introduced readers of the Night Huntress series to its hero, Vlad Tepesh,* a pyrokinetic vampire who hated to be called Dracula. While the atrocities that the historical Vlad the Impaler committed are up for debate, even his critics acknowledge that Vlad spent his life defending his country from invasion. Based on that, I figured my character Vlad would still have a strong sense of national pride and thus have his main residence in Romania (called Wallachia back when Vlad ruled it). I didn’t have an opportunity to detail Vlad’s house or other notable sites when he was a side character in my series, but once I had Vlad front and center, I was able to pull in some of those details.
Let’s start with Vlad’s house. In my books, vampires don’t burn up in sunlight, so there was no need to board up all the windows. Good thing, too, because his house has a lot of windows. Just for fun, I threw in lots of gothic touches, like turrets and stone gargoyles, and what says Dracula’s Mansion more than bodies on long wooden poles outside on the lawn? But my character also hasn’t lost touch with his princely roots, so his house couldn’t be a run-down, cobweb-infused replica of The Munsters residence. Instead, I drew inspiration from visiting the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC. Picture Vlad’s house as a cross between that and a medieval stronghold complete with lookout towers and a high wall, all tucked away in a corner of Suceava County, Romania. I chose Suceava because it was bordered by mountains, rivers, and lots of forests for the privacy Vlad would want.
Of course any Dracula aficionado knows that you can’t write about him without mentioning Castle Poenari. Castle Poenari is the fortress Vlad lived in with his first wife, who purportedly threw herself from their roof into the river below when she thought Vlad had been killed in a battle. To get to Castle Poenari, you have to climb over 1,400 steps up a steep mountain. The castle today is mostly in ruins, but some of the original structure remains. To get an idea of how impregnable it would have been during the time Vlad lived there, here’s the link to a short YouTube video a tourist posted. Look how high up it sits up on the mountain! I won’t spoiler plot points by saying how Vlad’s former home plays a part in my modern-setting novel, but I couldn’t resist adding Castle Poenari to the climactic scene in Once Burned.
Another spot associated with the historical Vlad Dracul is the Royal Court of Targoviste, also called the Princely Court. Vlad’s home was Castle Poenari, but in the fifteen century, Targoviste was the capital of Wallachia, so naturally its ruling prince, or voivode, as Vlad was called, would spend some time in a palace there. The Royal Court is much more preserved compared to Castle Poenari, so visitors can tour it today with a much better idea of what it looked like back in Vlad’s day. In the Chindea Tower, there’s even a special Dracula exhibition with a life-sized figure modeled after the famous painting that, incidentally, was done long after Vlad’s death. That painting was also supposedly commissioned by his enemies, so it’s no surprise that it shows a very dour-looking man. What the actual Vlad the Impaler looked like is lost to history. I did find a historical note that he had dark eyes ringed with green. Since my vampires’ eyes turn green when they reveal their true nature, I thought it was too perfect that the man who inspired the world’s most famous vampire novel would have a touch of green in his eyes J. The Royal Court and Chindea Tower is the backdrop of a pivotal scene in Once Burned, where Vlad discovers that an enemy he thought he’d killed centuries ago might still be alive.
In case you’re wondering, I’ve never visited Romania myself. Time, money, deadlines, and prior commitments take a big bite (heh, vampire pun!) out of my leisure travel. I do hope to get there one day, and even though I’m not a huge fan exercise, I’d happily walk all fourteen hundred uphill steps to Castle Poenari to see the same sight the real Vlad Dracul saw. You could call it research, but it would be me indulging my inner child who used to sneak to watch vampire movies and always, always wished that Dracula would win over the boorish Van Helsing.
*I added the “h” at the end of Vlad’s last name for artistic reasons, which is a fancy way of saying I liked it better that way. Since I also changed historical record to say that Vlad was a vampire who could manifest fire, it was the smallest change I made to the real Vlad. The actual spelling is Tepes.
Jeaniene Frost is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the Night Huntress series and the Night Huntress World novels. To date, foreign rights for her novels have sold to seventeen different countries. Jeaniene lives in Florida with her husband Matthew, who long ago accepted that she swears like a sailor, rarely cooks, and always sleeps in on the weekends. Aside from writing, Jeaniene enjoys reading, poetry, watching movies with her husband, exploring old cemeteries, spelunking and traveling – by car. Airplanes, children, and cookbooks frighten her.
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This giveaway is provided by Jeaniene Frost
One lucky winner will win any signed book from Jeaniene’s backlist, winner’s choice!
Available June 26, 2012 from HarperCollins/Avon
About this Book:
She’s a mortal with dark powers…
After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire…
He’s the Prince of Night…
Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad’s ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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