What do you miss the most about life before the pandemic?
For me, I think it’s traveling, and the freedom to go wherever you want to. Obviously, you can have all the freedom in the world if you don’t have the money, but sometimes you can have an awesome getaway without leaving the country, or even the state.
I live in Romania, a country known for its controversial history, picturesque landscapes, famous castles, and fantastic food. I don’t think there is a soul out there who hasn’t heard about Dracula, the legend that has its origins in Transylvania—the very heart of Romania, sheltered by the Carpathian Mountains. Stories of Vlad the Impaler have created this mythical vampire creature that has nothing to do with the real Vlad Țepeș, prominent Romanian ruler and national hero.
But there is one more historical figure whose reputation crossed the borders, and sadly, in her case the reality is far more horrific than the lore.
Countess Erzsébet Báthory (1560–1614), also known as Elizabeth Báthory, The Blood Countess, or Countess Dracula, was a Hungarian noblewoman who owned land in the Kingdom of Hungary (now divided between Hungary, Slovakia and Romania). She is known as the most prolific serial killer in history, having tortured and killed hundreds of young women, because she thought that bathing in their blood would keep her young forever.
The true story of Elizabeth Báthory remains mostly unknown, due to the lack of accurate historical information. But that didn’t stop people all over the world from being fascinated by this monstrous character, and over the years she was the subject of many books, movies, documentaries, etc.
When I decided to write my suspense romance, THE DIARY, I wanted to include the infamous countess’s legend and create a gothic setting for my characters. This is how the novel came to life, in a fictional castle from Transylvania, which had presumably belonged to Countess Báthory. Serena, a broadcast journalist, and Hunter, a cameraman, arrive to make a documentary about the Blood Countess, but when a murder occurs in the nearby village, they get a lot more than they had bargained for.
Although the book itself focuses on Hunter and Serena, there is a strong suspense and mystery element to it, and a fictional diary of Elizabeth Báthory. I confess it was scary and disturbing to do my research on this horrific historic figure, especially since I take my books very seriously and live in them while I write.
However, I am proud and satisfied with the novel I created, and most of all, I enjoyed including elements of Romanian culture.
If you haven’t read THE DIARY yet, this is the blurb:
In the legendary Transylvania, a castle belonging to Countess Erzsébet Báthory is discovered. Cameraman Hunter Cole and broadcast journalist Serena Scott arrive to make a documentary about the discovery, and the sinister Hungarian noblewoman, known as the most prolific female serial killer in history.
The two Americans could cope with roughing it in a fifteenth-century castle, with no modern amenities. They can even cope with each other, despite their initial mutual dislike for one another, which gradually turns into a mind-blowing attraction.
But when two girls are tortured and killed in Báthory copycat style, the nearby village is shaken to the core. In terror, they wonder who will be next…
Erzsébet Báthory (1560-1614) is a known historical figure and was a Hungarian countess, also known as Elizabeth Báthory, The Blood Countess or Countess Dracula. She has been labeled the most prolific serial killer in history, being responsible for the torture and murder of hundreds of young girls. The exact number of her victims is unknown, but is estimated at six hundred and fifty. It is speculated that she kept a diary with the names of all her victims, but if such a document exists, it has never been made public.
*This work is entirely fiction.
Buy THE DIARY from Amazon or read free in Kindle Unlimited.
Melinda De Ross is the first Romanian to become a USA Today bestselling author. A prolific writer, she weaves humorous romance and tension-filled thrillers with the same enthusiasm. Her books combine the elegance of European literature with the modern appeal of American culture. While she’s a law graduate and professional target shooter, she prefers to spend her days spinning tales for her readers. In her downtime, she’d rather read or watch a classic movie than go to a noisy club. She loves to hear from readers, so if you have a question or want to learn more about her books, visit her website: MelindaDeRoss.com