November 27, 2012

Bram Stoker: Dracula's Castle

The castle that most people want to see once in their lifetime, if they are a fan of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, is Bran Castle.  This is where Count Dracula lived, and where Jonathan Harker would make his journey to visit the count before escaping and returning to England. Due to Bram Stoker, this castle become a famous tourist site for Gothic lovers worldwide.

On the outer hand, if the tourist is  a lover of royalty, or the British or Romanian Royal Families,  then the other reason they will  want to go is to see Bran Castle and tour the area is because it was one of the many Royal residences of Queen Marie of Romania, after the end of the First World War.  However, it is best known not as Bran Castle, but often as Dracula's castle.  This is a challenge for people who are most interested in the Royal connection to Bran Castle or the cities surrounding it.

Bran Castle, Also known as Dracula's Castle
It does mean that one needs to note that the character was based on Vlad Tepes, who was a prisoner in this castle, but was never a Count.  This was how Bram Stoker made him out to be to make him seem more interesting than what he was.  Although, like Queen Marie of Romania, he was a member of a ruling family.  Vlad III Tepes, was the Prince of the neighbouring Principality of Wallachia.  During his exile he was reported to have used Bran Castle as loggings.  The Knights Templar had built the castle as a means of defence against, both Wallachia and the Ottoman Empire.

History aside, Bran Castle is a huge money maker for the country of Romania. Thanks to Stoker, this simply means that it is another means that both the novel, Dracula, and the royal family have helped the land of Transylvania is still a part of what we tend to think of the area, and become a money maker for both the ROmanian government and the decedents of Queen Marie.  Bram Stoker did an excellent job at writing the novel, and then using a Castle which still stands, and would become Dracula's Castle was a brilliant idea.

His published book made Bran Castle a means of income for the people of Transylvania, after its publication, but it also meant that the castle was not allowed to fall into much disrepair because of this, even during the time of communism in Romania, and other Eastern European countries.  Writing was a means to create Dracula's Castle, and fortunately, for many readers this means that they can thank one Bram Stoker for Dracula's Castle.

November 23, 2012

Transylvania, Romania and Publishing a Book

Most people can find a lot of information about Transylvania, Romania if they want to go on a trip to see a place in this area.  Many tourists go there simply to see the famous Bran Castle, but they need to have books on the subject if they want to go or to learn more about the area.

There is a strong market for travel books. Lonely Planet and others have published several about Romania and other Eastern European countries which means that for the average tour, you can prepare yourself with a fairly good idea of where Transylvania is in Europe.  For the history buff in all of us, there are many great castles and former royal residences to see there.

What else can a writer do if they want to publish a book?  Transylvania is a bit of niche market, and there are not many people who live in North America who know the history of the land very well, but there are more people in Europe who also know about the area and its unique people.

Since it is "Black Friday" in the United States, there is a great opportunity to publish a book around this time to promote Transylvania and Romania.  This happens every year so if you are considering publishing a book about Transylvania, plan on some promotion and a good date to publish.  This way you can expand on your ability to have people hear about this place.

Alba Iulia

Sibiu (Hermannstadt)
Transylvania, Romania is a wonderful place, and in my own experience it provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the past and publish a book.  In Search of the Lost Ones is available on and and there was the challenge of finding out more about this land and the people there.  It matters that more people need to travel there and to tour Transylvania, as it matters that people need to see a lot more places.

November 17, 2012

Royal Residences Of Transylvania, Romania

Did you know that Bran Castle was a royal residence in the country of Romania?  

The legendary Queen Marie of Romania lived there with her family, after the end of World War I.  She would be the first Queen of greater Romania, as Transylvania (at the time of the beginning of her husband's reign in 1914) was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, within the Austrian Empire before the year 1919.  At the time, she would look to make a name for the Kingdom, and she needed to have people and allies on her side to expand the Kingdom of Romania. 

After the end of World War I, she would have Bran Castle as one of her many royal residences. She had others, but this was on which was in Transylvania and was also near the city of Brasov and many other important cites which the Romanian royal family would use as measures of unity for Greater Romania

After her death, just before the start of World War II she gave the castle to her younger daughter Archduchess Ileana, and her children.  Her other daughters Queen Marie of Yugoslavia and Queen Elizabeth of Greece both had other residences which they could call home, or they did not live in Romania.  Queen Elizabeth would return to Romania after her divorce from the King of Greece.

The Prince Michael the Brave, of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania also had a residence in Transylvania:  It was in the city of Alba Iulia, which was considered the heart of Transylvania by the Romanian people much later on- this city was not revered as much by either the Hungarian population or the German Saxons, who each had their own 'major city'.  During his short reign, he would command from this traditional stronghold of the Roman Empire, but a city which many Romanians consider the "heart of Transylvania."  He lived there for a short time after having united the three principalities which would, centuries after he was killed, become a part of what is now, Romania.

His assassination would make certain that Transylvania would not become a part of what would become Romania until much later.  However, the Kingdom of Hungary would have control over Transylvania, but Hungary itself would form a part of the Empire of Austria under the control of the Habsburgs who did not care for Transylvania- other than they were the "Grand Princes of Transylvania."  Even today, the current Grand Prince of Transylvania is a Habsburg, and not the current head of the Romanian Royal family- King Michael of Romania.

It is of interest to note that the man who would be the final King of Romania, and not a pretender to the throne is named after this Prince who united the three principalities together in 1600.

There are many castles and residences in Transylvania.  These are not "royal residences" but rather the castles or homes of Princes, dukes or other minor princes who lived in Transylvania- not of the Prince of Transylvania proper.  Many examples can be found on many maps Transylvania and explained with the battles which were found in the area.

Some people might wonder if any other royal families might have a residence in Transylvania and the answer is: yes.  The Prince of Wales owns a "cabin" in Trnayslvania and he does frequent the area, as his family through Queen Mary is distantly related to none other than Vlad Tepes III (through his second wife.  The Austrian Royal Family, however, does not officially have any castles which they own in Transylvania, but they did have access to them during the time that they were in power. (Before 1918, and even then they were known as the Grand Dukes of Transylvania, a subsidiary title they had- Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary were the two highest ranks.)

Fargaras Fortress was also originally the home of many of the princes (viovides) of Transylvania, and it is still accessible to tourists today.  It is considered a royal residence since during its construction Transylvania did not have an official "king" although it would be ruled by the King of Hungary later on.  The royal residences of Romania are varied and many of them are within the borders of what once was Wallachia and Moldavia, as the Romanian Royal family held these much longer.

November 12, 2012

Transylvania, Blogs and Twitter

Social networking sites are a must- I didn't know that until now.

I joined the land of Twitter only recently because, truthfully, I was not sure about this particular social networking site.  I didn't want to have my valuable time taken up by Twitter when I could be writing, especially since Transylvania and its history is a small market, which is where much of my writing focuses on.  I think that I did not understand the value of having one more avenue of promotion where I could have more followers, and draw more potential readers not only to a blog about Transylvania but to reach out to readers who would  not normally search for information about Transylvania.

I was not sure that this was the best idea, but another writer convinced me that I was wrong.  Judy Croome, who has a Twitter account, showed me that I can use Twitter to let people know that I have a book, and also to interact with writers in a different environment than on any other website I write on.  Tweeting is certainly not like writing a blog.  I published a book, and writing for Twitter is nothing like writing a book.

There are pros and cons to each type of networking you do.  The time you need to spend on any one method is an important factor in choosing what to use, but once in a while you need to reevaluate what works best for you. I need to think about how I can promote my work on Twitter without sounding boring or, worse still, like a overly excited book marketer.

This brings me back to my question of should you use Twitter to promote your book?  After some thought, I believe the answer is yes, but only if you have the time and the willingness to market your book to the right people -- people who are interested in the subject you write about; in my case, the history of the Second World War and Transylvania, Romania.  In the beginning it is important to make yourself seen, and being interesting to the followers you have.  The truth is that many new writers on Twitter make the same mistakes when it comes to their promotion and writing.  Most of the best tweets are not about books (or one they have written) but are about what this person thinks or does they can be funny or simply of interest to others, and they are aimed at getting people to talk to you about the things you are passionate about.

For example, if you love to talk to others about travelling to Transylvania, you can also tweet about it to your followers.  This is a way to get followers to know that you write and are selling a book, but that you also have interests beyond your writing.  You can not only promote your book but you can promote yourself.  The key is not to over promote anything, your followers have to have a reason to see you as a person.  There are a lot of people who know and follow writers, but there are as many people who know and follow people who have knowledge about Transylvania, Romania.

Twitter, through its 140 character messages, is a network to think about, and after much thought I would like to invite you to follow me @RebeccaAEmrich. See you on Twitter!

November 7, 2012

Do You Really Want To Travel to Transylvania?

I was asked a question via email a few weeks ago about the possibility of my traveling to Romania.

I want to go on record as saying that I love to travel, but recently I haven't had as much chance to do it as I would like.  I want to travel to Romania and see a lot of Transylvania, but there is one drawback that sometimes makes me laugh and at other times cry: it is the question, do I really want to travel to Transylvania?  It has a lot to offer to me not only as a writer, but as a person.

Yes, I would love to; it would give me a chance to see what this area is like now, many years after my ancestors left the area.  I have a good idea that I would see a lot of older castles and cities but the newer parts of the area also are high on my list.  I know I'll be going on a tour of both Romania and Transylvania, so that will be the highlight.  One of the many castles I want to see is Bran Castle.  I've wanted to visit some of the villages that members of my family grew up in, to see what has changed in comparison with older photos.

As a part of Romania and of Europe, there is something about Transylvania that makes it a much more interesting trip than only going to Paris, France or to London, England. There is something remote and exotic about this land, and there are things written on the land that make people want to travel there.

Do I really want to travel to Transylvania?  Yes, because there are castles and cities I want to see and that will inspire me to write another great book.

In Search of the Lost Ones

November 4, 2012

Why Publishing a Book on Transylvania Is Different

There is a lot of work involved in publishing a book, and you should spend a lot of time building your writing portfolio to make things interesting.  This is true with whatever you write.  This is more true when the subject is Transylvania and Romania.  There are books and travel guides and countless self-published books about the area or the people.

Take for example this photo; one can write a lot about it.  It was taken during the Alba Iulia convention where the people of Transylvania came together and decided to become a part of Romania.  This is not a hard topic, but publishing a book about the event could be difficult since there are many behind the scenes stories associated with it.

Publishing a book now isn't like publishing a book a few years ago, given the pervasiveness of online shopping and self-publishing- especially when it comes to niche markets and how readers and authors interact with each other.  The subject of Transylvania and its history is no different, and there is more to writing and publishing something about a place when many people do not know where Transylvania is located.  (Perhaps they only know about it because of Dracula or Bran Castle, because of Bram Stoker.)

One could write about Dracula, but that has already been done many times over- even the great-grand-nephew of Bram Stoker has penned a novel about Dracula- with the addition of Elizabeth Bathory, the Countess of the Blood as a vampire.  Bran Castle or other  travel destinations in Transylvania and Romania are also well documented, and one simply has to search on Amazon to prove this fact.  However, politics and history and culture are not written about as much, and this is why publishing a book on Transylvania is different than what most writers think it is about.