Monthly Archives: October 2014

Northern Ireland & Game of Thrones

I recently spent a few days exploring the coast of Northern Ireland. Easily one of the most breathtakingly beautiful locations I have ever had the privilege to visit, the trip was nothing short of amazing. We stayed in a cottage just outside of Portrush a few miles off of the coastline. It was a quaint and wonderful place, just off the beaten path enough to be tranquil.

For this trip, we decided to take a self-guided tour of some of the filming locations for Game of Thrones, the HBO television show based on the books written by George R.R. Martin. As not only a fan of the show and books, but also as one who was lucky enough to get to meet Martin a few years ago, I was very excited to be taking the trip. We began semi-early with our first stop of the day, The Dark Hedges, which served as the filming location for the road between Winterfell and King’s Landing, known as the King’s Road. The location was rather difficult to find, and we actually stopped and asked for directions by a very nice man who actually escorted us up the hill to the location.

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The Dark Hedges consist of a narrow road lined with beech trees which were planted by the Stuart family during the eighteenth century. They were originally intended to serve as a compelling feature to impress visitors as they approached the family’s home. Today, this road remains a truly beautiful site and an impressive location. It is easy to see how it was chosen to be a part of this fantasy series.

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Our next stop was directly on the coast, Giants Causeway. This location is famous primarily for the unique rock formations which line its coast.

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There is a legend that these rocks were actually built by Giants. There are several versions of this legend.

 

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One version is that the Irish Giant Finn MacCool was challenged to fight a Scotish Giant, Benandonner. Finn agreed to the challenge and built the causeway so that they could meet. Some stories say that Finn defeated Benandonner. Other versions say that Finn hid from the Scotish Giant with the help of his wife, who disguised Finn as a baby and tucked him into a massive cradle. When Benandonner saw the ‘baby’ in the cradle, he assumed that Finn must be even bigger than himself, given the size of the ‘baby’, and fled back to Scotland.

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The third stop was Ballintoy Harbour, another Game of Thrones filming location on the coast. This is the spot where Theon Greyjoy returns to his ancestral home, the Iron Islands. (also, where he was baptized to the drowned god)

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It was an absolutely stunning coastal view, and the cold wind whipping across the sea just added to the authentic feel of standing before a truly amazing sight.

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The next day, we took a break for the Game of Thrones tour to visit the Old Bushmills Distillery and did a little whiskey tasking, which was fun…for my husband. I’m not much of a whiskey drinker. More of a “grapejuice” kind of author.

Then we drove back towards Belfast, where we spent our last day touring a little bit of the city and walking through the Titanic Museum. The ship was built in Belfast and actually began its tragic voyage in Northern Ireland, doing proving runs before finishing interior construction and departing for Liverpool. The museum is a collection of information which allows visitors to follow the story of Titanic from its original conception to the original design drawings.

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From there, it follows the actual construction steps involved in building her hull, outfitting her engines, and putting together her luxurious interior. The tour finishes with the events of the tragic night the ship sank into the sea, and the aftermath of the disaster, complete with a list of names of those lost. What also amazed me was that the victims ran the gamut of social classes, from tradesman, to crew members, to millionaire industrialists. I have been on the tour several times and still find myself standing with a deep sense of reverence towards the memorialized site.

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Overall, the trip was nothing short of amazing and a reminder of how, even after my extensive travels, the Irish and Northern Irish Coasts remain one of my absolute favourite places in all of Europe.

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Novel Release – Black Rose

I am excited to announce the official release of Black Rose, the first in a new fantasy series!

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Cover design by: Skyla Dawn Cameron

“May the Black Rose protect you in life and avenge you in death.” – Vow of the Black Rose

Six hundred years ago, the Muir Court was wiped from existence, destroyed by an elite group known as the Black Rose Guard. Their Captain, Mara, has a reputation of being a harsh woman who leads the guard with a fierce formality. During her long years, she has known pain, loss, heartache…and one great love.

Edward was the Captain of the Royal Guard of the Ciar Court. He loved her once. However, it was a love that faded the day he met young Liza, the Princess who stole the heart he had once sworn belonged to Mara alone. Liza was also the woman Mara was fated to protect. When the Queen learns of her daughter’s forbidden love for Edward, she devises a series of punishments, torturing Edward while her daughter is forced to watch. In a an act of desperation, Mara takes Liza’s place and looks on helplessly as Edward endures torments which break his body and Mara’s soul.

All of their pain is put aside when Liza is murdered by the rulers of a rival court. Haunted by her failure to protect the Princess and adhering to tradition, Mara takes the vow of the ‘Black Rose.’ It is an ancient oath which compels those under its power to abandon the lives they knew for the sake of a single goal: vengeance. Her quest leads her on a dark path of violence, rage, and bloodshed.

Tormented by a fate they can neither accept nor escape, Black Rose is a tale of retribution, love, and above all, honor—at any cost.

Now available for download on Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Rose-K-L-Bone-ebook/dp/B00OGN59WG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413421985&sr=8-1&keywords=k.l+bone

And in paperback:

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Rose-1-K-Bone/dp/1502816563/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413883772&sr=1-6

 

Black Rose on sale 2

 

Paperback coming soon!

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A Search for the ‘real’ Dracula

Transylvania, Romania

Last week, I took a research trip to Transylvania to explore the historical locations associated with Vlad Tepes.  For those who do not know, Vlad Tepes was a Prince of Transylvania who ruled between the years 1448 – 1456 and 1462-1476 respectively.

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In Transylvania, Vlad is most often frequently remembered as a folk hero who fought off a Turkish invasion during his reign. However, his harsh tactics in battle and his use of various forms of painful executions earned him several more infamous names throughout history. One of these names is Vlad the Imapler, due to his reported affinity for executing vanquished foes by impaling them on large wooden poles.

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He is also associated with a much more famous name: Dracula. Meaning son of the Dragon, or in some stories, son of the Devil. This name goes hand-in-hand with tales of Vlad’s bloodthirsty and ruthless nature.  These often sensationalized stories have grown in time with the proliferation of the famous novel, Dracula, first published by Bram Stoker in 1897.

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There are multiple theories as to how Vlad became associated with what can reasonably be argued as the most famous vampire of all time and I will not pretend to be a leading expert on the theory.  In this regard, I would refer you to the work of others, such as:

Bram Stoker’s Dracula: A Reader’s Guide by William Hughes, PhD. http://www.amazon.com/Bram-Stokers-Dracula-Readers-Guides/dp/0826495370/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413286910&sr=8-1&keywords=dracula%2C+william+hughes

Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times by Radu R. Florescu and Raymond T. McNally. http://www.amazon.com/Dracula-Prince-Many-Faces-Times-ebook/dp/B00FOR2O4O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413287133&sr=8-1&keywords=vlad+tepes

Or check out the website of Dacre Stoker and Hans de Roos, who are working on a Romanian Travel Guide for visiting locations associated the legends surrounding Vlad and its ties to Bram Stoker’s novel. http://www.dractravel.com/

Now, back to my personal journey.  It began in Bucharest, where I spent my first night in Romania. Initially, I was in awe of the city, in both positive and negative ways. To begin with the good, the city features a lot of history with some truly breath-taking views. The buildings are very elaborate, and the streets were lined with grandiose statues, and gorgeous fountains. And of highest importance…Bucharest has a Hard Rock Café which, as an avid Hard Rock pin collector, was definitely a point in its favour.

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In the negative was driving in Romania, which I was fortunate enough not to have to do myself, as my father who took the trip with me did the driving. The streets were very crowded, sometimes consisting of up to six lanes which were completely lined with cars. The lanes were poorly marked, especially for night driving and there were a lot of round-abouts, some six lanes across with up the eight exits. The average speed of driving in Romania was probably 30mph, except on very specific highways. I say probably because road signs were not in abundance.

The second day is when the real journey began. We had three planned stops on our agenda for the first day. They were the Snagov Monastery; Princely Court with Chindia Tower in Targoviste; and our hotel outside of Bran Castle.

The first stop was Snagov Monastery which took us about 45 minutes to reach. Despite having a map and a GPS, we did get lost a few times before finally finding a sign that not only listed name of the Monastery, but actually said Vlad Tepes. We ended up following the signs to what we planned on being our first stop. It was located in a small town down several poorly paved roads in a deprived area that was several miles the main roads.

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When we reached the monastery, there were a group of men standing outside of the building. One of these men directed us to park the car, which at first seemed fine. However, after we got out of the car, the man approached my father and stated that if we paid him, nothing would happen to the vehicle and that his companions would walk us into the monastery itself. My father, who is generally uncomfortable with very little, gave me a look that spoke volumes as this man continued that state that nothing would happen if we paid him. We said a terse, no thank you, and got back into the car without seeing the actual location.

The second stop was Princely Court. It consists of two parts. The first is a garden with several statutes of the Princes who have ruled over Transylvania. It was actually quite lovely and was filled with flowers between the statutes. It also featured a rather touristy restaurant which advertised its association with Vlad Tepes. In the centre of the garden was a large statue of Vlad which towered over the ones surrounding it. We had a very enjoyable walk through this garden.

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The second part is the Chindia Tower, which is also associated with the Transylvanian Princes.

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However, it turns out that this tower is closed on Mondays, so we were unable to go inside. Though we did take several photographs of the outside. There was also a small restaurants called the Mcrama Murfatlar, which was both very reasonably priced and had excellent food and wine which is located between the Tower and the garden.

After this, we continued our journey towards Bran Castle. The drive up the mountains was a slow one, with the road full of sharp curves that had to be taken with the upmost care. The GPS and map estimates stated that it would take approximately 2 hours to make the drive, the reality (at least for our trip) was closer to 3 ½ .

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However, we did eventually reach the hotel by the castle and enjoyed a fun night of tasting some local wines.  We also took a few night photographs of Bran Castle, which to me appeared both powerful and ominous upon the mountainside, allowing my imagination to understand how one might come to associate the castle with the myths and legends of the vampire.

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The next morning we explored the castle itself. It held a great deal of history about the ruling families of Transylvania and the history of the castle itself along with some beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. It also featured a section on the vampire myths associated with Vlad, a room I spent much time exploring.

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Overall, the castle was truly spectacular and well worth the tedious trip up the mountains.

 

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After the castle, we shopped the small, open-air market that was located near the entrance and picked up a few things for some friends. Also could not resist trying a few of the specialties.

 

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Afterwards, we headed back to Bucharest where we spent out last night trying a few additional local foods and drinks of the area, including an unknown Romanian liquor whose name I was unable to recall the next morning.

Overall, despite a few complications, the trip was a good experience. It was really inspiring for me to be able to actually visit the locations which I have been studying and reading about for so many years. I feel very fortunate to have been able to take this trip and explore the history of the myths which inspired my imagination as a child and continue to do so to this day.

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Dracula Untold Premiere

For those who don’t know, in addition to being a writer, I am also a PhD student writing my dissertation on vampire fiction. Therefore, I had a truly amazing opportunity the evening of Sept. 30th, 2014 to have the privilege of attending the red carpet premiere of the upcoming film, Dracula Untold. It was my first time to ever attend a premiere and the event which was held in Dublin, Ireland had all proceeds going to charity. The event did not disappoint and I was thrilled to be in attendance!

Arriving only a few hours early, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself at the beginning on the line, close enough in fact to stand directly in front of the walkway which the stars of the film would later walk down.

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Though a bit chilly, it was interesting to watch the red carpet being uncovered and the slowly gathering crowd. The doors for the theatre opened around 6:30, an hour before the film was to begin, however I chose to remain outside for another half hour, give or take, to see if I could catch a glimpse of the cast. My efforts were rewarded as, a short time before the film was to begin, the star of the film, Luke Evans who plays the title role of Dracula, greeted the crowd as he walked down the red pathway.

 

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I was even more surprised when he paused to say hello and signed my poster, which will from this point forward remain under lock and key. 😉

I enjoyed the film as a fun twist between history, myth and the cinematic portrayal of the vampire. The battle scenes were grand, but not so over-the-top that they became campy, which was nice. They also seemed to embrace (which was confirmed during a Q & A with members of the cast) that they were attempting to put a more human face on Dracula, showing how Vlad might have been seen by some as a hero, as he accepted vampirism in order to save his people from the Turks.

I actually asked Luke Evans about his preparation for the role, which he said included a fair amount of research, and definitely seemed to show in not only the film, but in other questions which he answered during the Q & A as well. They were joined in the Q & A with the director of the film, who provided some fun insight as well.

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Overall, I enjoyed the film and had a great time at the premiere!

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