Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Friday, May 20, 2011

Guest Blogger: Stephanie Burkhart

Today, I'd like to welcome Stephanie Burkhart and invite her to talk about the research she did for her historical novel. I'm always fascinated by the hard work that goes into writing a good book, so it was wonderful of Stephanie to "feed" my addiction to research.

Take the Journey – Research

I'd like to thank Amy for having me here today. My latest release is "The Wolf's Torment." Set in 1865 in Romania, Crown Prince Mihai has a secret - he's a witch. Can his love for Theresa give him the courage he needs to save his family from the werewolf that haunts them?

Ambitious, huh? Challenge #1 – setting the novel in Romania, a place I've never been. Challenge #2 – how to blend in the culture and myths of Romania to give it a rich authenticity.

The research wasn't going to be easy – or was it? –wink.


Honestly, I've never been to Romania, but I have been to Hungary, only 1 nation away. In that regard, I knew the climate and landscape of Hungary. It reminded me of upstate New York. I haven't been to the Black Sea, but I've been to Lake Ontario in the Great Lakes. Thank goodness for "Lonely Planet!" The travel guide confirmed what I suspected and I was able to use my memories of upstate New York and Hungary to bring Mihai's Romania to life. The novel opens during wintertime and goes through to the following autumn. You can see your breath in the winter and feel invigorated as you watch the spring flowers bloom.


My library/book research was limited. I found a great book on the history of the Black Sea that talked about its rich history since the ancient Greeks and Romanians. In the library, I found several book about Romania in general. Those books gave me general ideas to follow. It was the Internet research that filled out the details.

I used the Internet to search out Romanian names, the language, the food, specific places such as Bran Castle, (for the style and architecture of Romanian castles) Orthodoxy, holidays, supernatural myths and history of the region. Boy, did I learn a lot!

Romanians are the descendants of the ancient Romans who settled the area. Constantinople was to the south and considered the second Rome. When Constantinople broke away from Rome and became Eastern Orthodox, Romania's religion did as well.

Orthodoxy is a beautiful religion and it's marriage ceremony is very involved with the couple crowning each other at the end. For an example think "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

Romanian names have Latin origins. "Mihai" is Romanian for Michael, pronounced "Ma-high."
Martisor is a Romanian holiday which occurs on 1 March. It's the beginning of spring and its customary for the men in the family to give the women a small token for good luck in the upcoming year. Gifts include flowers, seashells or jewelry.

For a taste of Romania, "The Wolf's Torment" is full of flavor.


From The Pen & Muse:

A complete werewolf story through and through, Burkhart does it again with an amazing cast of characters, entertaining dialogue and plot. Lovers of historical paranormal romance will enjoy this read, the first in the Moldavian Moon series.


From Reader's Favorites

5 Stars - The Wolf’s Torment has it all, witches, werewolves, a vampire, a princess and a prince. This is paranormal romance at its finest.


Enjoy this Excerpt:

There was a knock on the door and the ladies entered, Sonia followed by Theresa and then Beatrice. Everyone exchanged polite hugs, but Sonia kept her hugs very light. Her cheeks were pale.

"Sonia, how are you feeling?" Viktor put his drink down, but wasn't quite sure what to do with his hands, first jamming them into his pockets before restlessly pulling them out and clasping them behind his back.

"I'm just tired, that's all." She sat down on the sofa. A tray of tea and small scones were laid out for the ladies. Beatrice sat down next to Sonia and steeped a chamomile tea bag. Mihai detected the scent quicker now with Beatrice's instruction.

"This tea will help you," said Beatrice. "It's chamomile."

Sonia reached for the cup exchanging a knowing look with Beatrice.

"Thank you." Theresa sat down on the other side of Sonia and gently rubbed her back. Mihai's father clapped his hands. "Well, I can't tell you enough how pleased I am that you and Viktor are expecting a child, but I want you to take care of yourself. You must stay well for the child."

"I'll go to bed early tonight," Sonia replied.

"Sonia's in fine hands, Your Majesty. Dr. Stanza is quite capable and Mrs. Nocesti from the hospital has agreed to be her mid-wife," said Viktor. His voice broke with concern, but he didn't go to Sonia.

Mihai knew Sonia grew anxious when Viktor got too close to her, so Viktor had to do it in other ways and his eyes were no help. As time went on he became used to the changes in the pitch and tremble of his friend's words.

His father drew in a deep breath and he placed a fist over his heart to help steady his breathing. Then he looked up. "I want to wish all the women here a Martisor filled with good luck throughout the year. Spring will be upon us shortly. The Earth will soon be reborn. May you all--" He began coughing violently. He leaned over his desk, bracing his hands on the edge of it for support.

Mihai ran to him and held his shoulders. Viktor grabbed a handkerchief and placed it over the king's mouth, but not before several drops of blood dripped onto the desk. When he finally stopped coughing, Mihai looked at Viktor.
"Get Dr. Stanza," he said in a low voice.

Viktor quickly departed. Mihai helped his father to a nearby chair and the king sat down. He closed his eyes and took deep, labored breaths.

Theresa clutched Sonia's hand, offering support. Beatrice withdrew several small vials from the hidden pockets in her dress. She sniffed two before she found the one she wanted.

"What are you doing?" asked Theresa.

"The doctor, no doubt, will give him laudanum which will only dull his senses and take away the pain. I'm going to give him a little blood root."

"Blood root?" Sonia pursed her lips and a thoughtful look crossed her face. "Blood root is good for the lungs, right?"

"Yes, it is," said Theresa, soothingly. "It will help him. Trust me. It's only called blood root because the root is as red as blood."

Beatrice poured the powdered root into the king's glass, and gently shook it before giving it to Mihai. He put the glass to his father's lips and held it steady between the coughs. Several gulps of liquid made it down his throat. After another minute, his father stopped coughing and rested his head against the side of the chair.

Beatrice put her hand against the king's cheek. "He'll be fine now." Mihai nodded. "I don't feel like talking, Son. Hand out the flowers." His father's voice was weak and raspy.
Viktor walked in with Dr. Stanza. Beatrice looked away and let the doctor examine the king.

"Does it hurt?" asked Dr. Stanza.
"I ache."

Dr. Stanza withdrew a small flask. "Take a small sip. It's laudanum."

His father did so. Mihai clenched his hands into fists. Thank God the ailment hadn't taken his father's wits, but it was robbing him of his mobility, and it wasn't good that he was coughing up blood. It would only get worse.

Beatrice stepped up beside Mihai. "Relax," she whispered.

"Your father needs to rest. I'll take him to his room," said Dr. Stanza. He helped the king to his feet and supported him as they slowly walked out.

Mihai unclenched his fists. "We should continue as my father wanted and pass out the flowers."

"You don't think we should wait?" asked Sonia. "It wouldn't be a bad omen, would it?"

Visit the Book Trailer on You Tube and give it a 'like' at:

The Wolf's Torment is available as an ebook only on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Ereader. Formats include: PDF, html, and epub which can be found on the Publisher's Website at:

About the Author: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She also served as an MP in the US Army. Multi-published, she has a children's book, "The Giving Meadow" with 4RV Publishing. She's an avid reader , loves coffee in the morning, and her favorite movie "werewolf" is David Thewlis, Lupin from Harry Potter.

You can find me at:
Thanks, Stephanie! I learned something about Romania I didn't know (though I probably should have) so I'm glad you agreed to blog!

Have a great weekend!


Anonymous said...

Steph what a wonderful story and hope it sells millions of copies. Sounds as if you have a good head for research. AN interesting project with great results.
Hugs, Kathy Crouch

Amy said...

Thanks for the comment, Kathy! It's fascinating to hear about all the research folks do, isn't it?