You could blame it all on Bram Stoker. He invented the Brides of Dracula, though they’re never actually called that in the novel. They don’t even get names. I devoured Dracula over the course of two days at an impressionable age. I fell in love with the dark and brooding atmospherics, but it’s more than just a scary story. Dracula is a brilliant critique of Victorian society, commenting on sexual mores, class conflict, even British foreign policy toward Eastern Europe. My vampire trilogy Daughters of Shadow and Blood is in many ways an homage to Bram Stoker’s original and explores many of the same themes, including the dangers of obsession, the conflict between the desire for freedom and the constraints of society, and the redemptive power of love.
You could also blame a movie called Van Helsing. In my opinion, this is a very bad movie, despite the presence of Kate Beckinsale, but it sparked the idea for Daughters of Shadow and Blood. In the movie the Brides have names and distinctive costumes. One of them is even dressed as a Turkish harem girl, which got me to thinking. If Dracula is immortal, there’s no reason the Brides have to all come from the same time period, and the Balkan Peninsula is such a crossroads of cultures, they could be from anywhere, too. I decided I would give each Bride her due and let her tell her story.
Then again, you cold blame my obsession with Balkan history. They say truth is stranger than fiction. Balkan history plays that out.
There is a small mountain range in Greece called the Unwritten. It’s called that because when the Ottoman Turks conquered the area, the resident Greeks took to the high ground and waged guerrilla warfare on their would-be conquerors for the next five hundred years. Rather than embarrass the Sultan by showing him an area of his empire not entirely under his control, his cartographers simply left the entire mountain range off the official maps.
The mountain range that separates Albania from Kosovo is called the Accursed Mountains. Tell me that name wouldn’t be at home on a map of Middle Earth.
There’s also the story of the epic rivalry between the Karageorgevi? and Obrenovi? families for the throne of Serbia and later Yugoslavia, better than any soap opera.
Oh, and the word vampire comes from Serbian.
I included as many such weird little nuggets in Daughters of Shadow and Blood as I could, seemingly odd historical events that could have been the result of a vampire’s not-so-benevolent intervention. You can’t prove otherwise.
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