Believe it or not, people often ask me, “Karen, was Vlad the Impaler really a vampire?” I finally decided to make a trip to Romania and Transylvania to investigate. The next few posts will be about that journey.
We’d set out for the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania from Bucharest in the morning, encountering a tempestuous rainstorm so severe as to be deafening, lashing the vehicle and obscuring our sight. In the brutal rain teaming from a blackened, ominous sky, it became easy to imagine why Bram Stoker set his novel Dracula in this countryside.
For the next week or so I will be lurking around Bucharest and haunting the Carpathian Mountains. If you need me, please send your falcon, note attached, to Bran Castle in Transylvania. I’ll post an immediate reply.
I originally wrote this piece for Publisher’s Weekly but it was cut in half for space. Here is the unedited version.
No Sex, Please, We’re Literary!
Sex sells. But what about sexy storylines? When it comes to fiction is sex in one category and literature in another, and never the twain shall meet? In this provocative essay, author Karen Essex takes on the issue and responds to critics of her literary thrillerDracula in Love. So get ready … things are about to heat up.
During an auction for the audio rights to my new novel, Dracula in Love, my editor forwarded me an email that was sent from one of the bidders. “This book is so hot that I can’t wait to get home to my wife!” he proclaimed, and then outbid everyone else and presumably went home and made his wife happy. (Mrs. Audio Rights, you owe me.)
I have been having conversations with Egyptian friends and scholars, readers who are revisiting my novel Kleopatra, and book clubs that are reading it for the first time. It’s just amazing how history is repeating itself two thousand years later. “Egyptians have never been passive,” says an Egyptian friend. “We have attracted despots and dictators throughout our history but we have always rebelled against them.”
In Kleopatra, the unruly populace stages multiple demonstrations against King Ptolemy XII, Kleopatra’s father, who has overtaxed them in order to help the Romans finance their wars of conquest. The king had reason to be afraid; the Egyptians had been so aggravated with his predecessor that they slit his throat. The riots escalated, and Ptolemy XII was forced to go to Rome to demand support for his continuance on the throne. In my book – and in the minds of some scholars, owing to epigraphic evidence- the young Kleopatra accompanied her father to Rome, forever changing her attitude toward governance.
Greetings from New York, the best place on earth to be for the holidays! I am here with a broken ankle, which many of you know I acquired by falling on the plane on the way to my Italian book tour. It was a sorry way to find out that I am not a vampire after all.
On Sunday, 12/19, I will join 30 fellow fiction writers in a marathon reading of Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Housing Works Bookshop Cafe in Soho. In the spirit of Tiny Tim Cratchit, I will hobble up to the podium around 3:30. Refreshments after! Here’s our notice in THE NEW YORKER: