As I'm sure you know, because I will not stop talking about it, SILVER IN THE BLOOD came out last week in paperback. And I had my nails done to match, and I'm doing a giveaway on Goodreads (signed copies! Check it out!), and this Saturday (July 30th) I'll be signing and speaking at the King's English Bookshop in SLC with Dan Wells and Emily Wing Smith. (2pm! Don't miss it!)
But why, WHY, you ask, am I so charged up about the paperback of this book?
Well, because I love this book.
Now, now! Before you think, "What? I bought all those other books of hers, I thought she loved them, too!" It's true: I love all my books. I work hard on all my books. I would not let a book go out into the world unless I thought it was an amazing idea, and unless I had worked very hard on it, and unless I thought it was the best. Thing. Ever.
But once in a while there's an idea. An idea for a book. A book that's just a little bit more. There's just a little extra shine to this idea. A little extra specialness to it. A book that gives me the chance to not just write about one idea that I love, but to write about many of my loves.
When the idea came to me, as I've said before, I was watching a super crappy movie, which was based on a super fun book. (I hate to say rude things about other people's hard work, book or movie, so I will just say that the book is YA and is about a girl whose family are all werewolves, and she falls for a human boy, and I first read it in the late 1990's. The title is three words and the author has three names, like me.) And I kept thinking to myself, if I were to set a story in Romania (the movie takes place in Romania, the book does not), I would do it because I had a good reason to. And I just kept playing with this idea, these cousins, going to Romania, finding out their family's dark secret. And then my friend Amy Finnegan suggested that it be set, not in the 21st century, but in the 19th, and suddenly I had that special glow about this project.
You see, I love the 19th century. I would not want to live there. Because corsets and early-model toilets do not sound nice. Nor do chamber pots. Or fleas. Or wearing wool of any kind, but especially as stockings, underclothing, or anything else where the wool might touch my skin. But I love the idea of it, and I love so many books that were written then. Books by Charles Dickens. And Edith Wharton. And Bram Stoker. I don't go in for horror much, I like my vampires funny or very posh. Think THE VAMPIRE LESTAT or Buffy and the Scooby Gang (Team Spike 4EVAH!). But I love DRACULA. If you have not read it, I highly, highly recommend it. It's very atmospheric and wonderful. And I'm fascinated by the fact that, despite never having left England, Stoker not only managed to describe the castles and mountains associated with Vlad Dracula so well, but he was able to take this then very obscure historical figure and turned him into the prototype of the modern vampire.
Because, you see, Vlad Dracula, known as the Impaler, was a real guy. A real horrifying guy, but also a guy who saved his country from invasion time and again. A guy who was betrayed by his friends. Who built churches and castles. And who, yes, was probably batpoop crazy or bipolar or something, and did in fact torture hundreds of people. And enjoyed it. A knight and a prince and a torturer, who was loved by his own people and mostly forgotten by the rest of the world, until a few centuries later, when he was resurrected by an English playwright who retitled him as a count and a vampire, a supernatural being who could turn into a wolf or a bat or a mist.
Oh, yes, that's right. The Claw, The Wing, or The Smoke. That's where it all began.
So I suddenly had a chance. A chance to combine my fascination with the real Vlad, with the story of Dracula, with the era of Edith Wharton's beautiful debutantes (which I was feeling all nostalgic about anyway, thanks to Anna Godberson's The Luxe series), with legends of shapeshifters, with my new interest in the Romanian countryside. It was all there. So many elements, so many little things that delighted me, and the chance to bring them all together into one story. The chance to explore what it would be like to be a society deb, and put on your corset and your silk ball gown and your gloves and jewels, and go to the opera ball. And the chance to think about what it would be like to find out you could turn into an animal. What are the logistics of that? Is it painful? Is it emotionally and/or mentally taxing? The chance to write a novel like DRACULA. In the end I decided not to go full epistolary (DRACULA is entirely told in letters, journals, newspaper clippings, and such), but to at least lead in to each chapter with something.
And I was right: It was SO FUN.
I started to do research, something I had not done in eons, and then I got a wild idea. What if I went to Romania? To really get a feel for it! To see the sights! And I discovered something: you can not only see the sights, but you can literally walk where Vlad the Impaler walked. You can eat in the house he was born and raised in (now a restaurant in Sigisoara). You can see his grave, where a candle always burns in remembrance. You can stay in hotels where wealthy 19th century debutantes would have stayed, after taking the Orient Express from Paris to Bucharest for a summer holiday. Because that's what Parisians did back then: They summered in Romania.
That was another thing that intrigued me. This is my bias, and my lack of knowledge, I know. But I had assumed that 19th century Romania would be very backward. Lots of farming and animal husbandry. And sure, there was a lot of that. But as I did my research I found out that what Bucharest was known for in the late 19th century was its many hotels and spas. It's balls and operas, and elegant society.
It was, in a word, perfect. Perfect for the story I wanted to tell. Everything about this book seemed to fall into place. A private research tour turned out to be very affordable and easy to schedule. The weather was great. Historical facts backed up the plot I had in mind. Castles and forests and hotels proved to be ideal settings for my action scenes.
It was like the universe wanted me to write this book.
Even the monk, who lives alone on the tiny island of Snagov, guarding the tomb of Vlad Dracula, gave me his blessing. When he found out, through our guide/translator, that was I writing a book about the Dracula family he became very upset. He told me over and over that Prince Vlad had not been a vampire, but had been a mighty warrior and a leader of his people. I had to promise him that I would not portray the Draculas as vampires, and when I did, he blessed me and gave me a bracelet of prayer beads.
That's how special this book is to me. I got the blessing of the man who guards Dracula's tomb.
I've sweated and prayed and laughed and cried over this book. I actually got shy about sharing this book, and ended up sitting on it for a couple of years until I felt confident enough to show it to my editor.
So please, read my baby. Treat it gently. Look at it with love. Check out both the beautiful covers. And admire the words within, which came from the heart.
On the SILVER IN THE BLOOD page on this website you can see pictures of Romania, but here's a few more, along with some things that just inspired me: