Have you ever thought that the blood of someone famous, whose name inspires, even today, a feeling of admiration, or unease or dread, may be flowing through your veins? No? I must admit that I hadn’t either, until I wrote the novel Dracula’s Mistress and, come to think of it, Dracula’s blood may flow through my veins, too, as I am a native of his country. I live in Romania, precisely in the area that was called, during Vlad’s time, Wallachia.
There are so many books on Vlad the Impaler. All are written by foreigners. So I thought why not a novel on this subject written by one of his own country people. Dracula’s Mistress is a cross-over – part historical, part paranormal (ghosts), and a dash of romance that will awe legions of fans of Gothic literature, paranormal, and historical fiction.
It is the story of the powerful, brave, merciless Prince Vlad III Basarab, a descendant of the Draculesti family, ruler of Wallachia during the Middle Ages, better known to most people as the infamous vampire Dracula. From the day he ascends the throne he knows only battles, betrayal, and intrigue. A thick web of lies and slander surrounds Vlad. He has to fight his own demons, and face endless conflicts: with the Wallachian landlords – dedicated to removing him from the throne; with the Ottomans – for whom Wallachia is a tasty morsel; with allies or friends who turn into enemies; with his family and his own desires.
One of Vlad’s major opponents is his own brother, Radu the Handsome, who is on excellent terms with the Sultan, Mehmed II. It’s a well known fact that Radu became Mehmed’s intimate friend when Sultan Murad kept him and Vlad as hostages at the Ottoman court years before. Radu and several of Vlad’s opponents, by means of threat and blackmail, “gather proof” claiming Vlad is no longer a normal being, but a blood drinking vampire; a danger for the community and the country. They spread the lie, the outrageous slander making people whisper and gossip about their ruler, nicknaming him Dracul/the devil.
My intention isn’t to destroy the vampire myth. Not at all. I want to show the historical, social and political circumstances that made Vlad III Basarab, aka Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula, a harsh, cruel ruler. He was no more cruel than other kings of those times. Vlad was an honest, righteous man who loved Wallachia and its people. His cruelty is justified by the horrors and sufferings he endured all his life. Vlad suffered greatly at the hands of the Ottomans. He was tortured for part of that time, and was locked up in an underground prison. It was during his years as a hostage at Murad’s court that Vlad first witnessed the punishment of impalement.
As a native of Vlad’s country I offer an original viewpoint on the character, while at the same time weaving customs and traditions specific to Wallachia, present day Romania, into the story. Dracula’s Mistress is based on real historical people of the Middle Ages:
Vlad III, prince of Wallachia (1431–1476/77), posthumously dubbed Vlad the Impaler (modern Romanian: Vlad Țepeș, pronounced [ˈvlad ˈt͡sepeʃ]);
Radu III the Handsome or Radu III the Beautiful (Romanian: Radu cel Frumos), also known by his Turkish name Radu Bey (1437-1439—1475), the younger brother of Vlad Țepeș;
Stephen III of Moldavia, commonly known as Stephen the Great, (1433–1504) prince of the Principality of Moldavia between 1457 and 1504;
Mehmed II, Mahomet II, or Mohammed II (1432–1481), best known as Mehmed the Conqueror (el-Fātiḥ), an Ottoman sultan who, at the age of 21, conquered Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) and brought an end to the Eastern Roman Empire; and
George Castriota Scanderbeg (1405–1468), an Albanian noble and a former member of the Ottoman ruling elite, who curbed the Ottoman expansion into Europe between 1443 and 1468.
The rest of the characters – Angela, Marin Craioveanu, Maritza – and events in the book are my creation.
Lovely, smart, determined, Angela Oltenescu ignores all the aggressive rumors and her mother’s warning regarding Vlad. Will she suffer the consequences of falling in love with a man nicknamed Dracula by his enemies — an infamous creature of the night?
Though the action takes place in the fifteenth century, readers will discover themes of interest still current today – the Muslim invasion, the schism between the various branches of Christian churches, the greediness of neighboring countries towards Romania.
Book two, Dracula’s Prodigy, takes place in the United States, in Transylvania county, North Carolina, six hundred years later. Even so readers will meet a couple of characters from book one. Like book one, it is a crossover novel – light historical, light horror, light romance.
I’m glad to live in a country known to everyone, be it only because it’s linked to a name bearing negative connotations: creatures of the night, crimes and horrors, fangs, sucking the blood of maidens. Dracula is said to have drank his victims’ blood, terrified his enemies and turned into a bat at will. The border between legend or history and figments of people’s imagination is difficult to perceive in his case.
There are many people in Romania bothered by this analogy, Romania – Dracula’s country. I’m not. I’m proud to be one of his country people. And I chose to think about Dracula as a symbolic personality, a hero, a true leader, who used harsh, yet fair methods to reclaim the country from the corrupt and rich boyars.
I wish there lived another man like Vlad in his present-day country!
Both Dracula’s Mistress and Dracula’s Prodigy are available on Amazon:
Dracula’s Mistress by Carmen Stefanescu https://amzn.to/2qhCBNJ
Dracula’s Prodigy (Dracula’s Mistress Book 2) by Carmen Stefanescu https://amzn.to/2qhCIsD