Thursday, June 16, 2011

Up Close & Personal with Christine Frost, Author, The Veiled Mirror: The Story of Prince Vlad Dracula’s Lost Love


Where do you call home?

Boston, Massachusetts

What is your book about?
The Veiled Mirror is a look at the life of the Prince Vlad Dracula, told from the perspective of his consort. I’m a long-time fan of vampire stories. Over the years, I noticed a pattern: many books and films that explored the historical figure of Vlad Dracula mentioned he had a wife who had committed suicide, but the circumstances were always different. I began to wonder about who she really was, and found she was rarely more than a footnote in biographies about his life, and the details were inconsistent. Some said she was a wife, others claimed she was a concubine. History doesn’t even give us her actual name. I wanted her to tell her own story, and for the story to be authentic portrait of what it must have been like for a woman in that place and time, connected to a historical figure who conjures up such a powerful image with so many people world-wide.


If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?
Would I want to know what Vlad would have to say about this? I’m not so sure…

Do you have plans for a new book?
My new novel is coming along so much more quickly than the first one! I’m hoping to publish it in 2012. I have a long list of historical novels and a few short stories—I keep it posted by my computer to remind me where my focus should be when I start to spend a little too much time in that labyrinth of distractions we call the internet....


How did you come up with the title?
Covering a mirror after someone’s death is an old custom that has origins in several religions and cultures. To some, it was done to prevent a soul from becoming trapped in the mirror. While developing the story, it became an interesting notion that perhaps it wasn’t done in time, and then there is the ancient pagan god who wants to punish her for trying to intervene in his plans, and she does become trapped in this liminal realm. It becomes a vessel from where she can observe Dracula’s transformation into the vampire that most people identify him as. And there’s the chance that she can be freed from it, so she continues to have hope.


What books have most influenced your writing most and why?
Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy had a profound effect on me when I read it when I was about fourteen. I love complex epics, and the experience of reading Gormenghast helped shape me as a writer. Many of the books I read for pleasure in high school influenced me: the Dragonlace series (the first 6 books in particular) made me a fantasy fanatic, Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat was one of her best works, and appealed to my Gothic side.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I had a chance to see him as a keynote speaker at an event at MIT, but I never had the opportunity to meet him.


Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks, or hardcovers?
It depends…when I’m doing research for my novels, nothing beats a dense, hardcover book filled with maps and illustrations. I’ve had an e-reader for a few months and adapted to it much faster than I thought I would, but I’ll always love having shelves loaded with books of all kinds.


Have you ever read a book more than once?
Quite a few, actually...one of my writing teachers once said you don’t buy a CD and listen to it just once and say, “Wow, that was great!” I try to learn from my favorite books. And now that I’ve taken a second job as a teaching assistant for literature courses, I do really intense close readings of books I’ve read before. This spring, I re-read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and was fascinated by the different perspective I gained. I think I’ve re-read the Lord of the Rings trilogy the most, though.


Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version? I really don’t think so, but I have to say, there have been some lovely renditions of favorite books where I didn’t walk away critiquing the movie, such as Like Water for Chocolate.


What book are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Margaret George’s Mary Queen of Scots. When writing a novel, I try to read as much as I can about the era I’m focusing on. My new novel is set in Ireland during the Elizabethan era, so my “currently reading” bookshelf is full of stories and history set in Europe during that time. I love Margaret George’s writing style. Memoirs of Cleopatra is my favorite of her books, but I am really enjoying Mary Queen of Scots as well. She does a great job of capturing the moody atmosphere of the landscape and castles.


What book do you know that you will never read?
Oh, dear. Time to ‘fess up, huh? As much as I love classic literature, I know I will never make it through War and Peace. I’ve tried reading Tolstoy’s works before, and I just....can’t.


Who designed the cover of your book?
My boyfriend’s cousin, Dimas Reyes, painted it and did the overall cover design. After a few conversations to discuss our ideas, I was amazed at how striking the resulting cover was.


Do you have a book trailer?
I worked with a company last year to have a trailer made. They did a great job! It can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2gM3pCmtEQ


Do you have any advice for other writers?
Perseverance and networking are key elements! And always read your work out loud. It’s the most effective way of observing the flow of a story, as well as catching errors. It’s the best advice I’d ever received in a writing workshop.


Where can your readers follow you?

My blog: www.herravendomain.com

My Goodreads author page:
http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5194786-christine-frost

Twitter: @Shahrazad1001


The book:

Legend has it that the love of Prince Vlad Dracula’s life committed suicide during a siege when the odds of winning were slim. This is the story of Ecaterina Floari, consort to the Wallachian prince who served as inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. A ruthless warlord in the fifteenth century, Prince Dracula fought valiantly against those who would control the land of his ancestors. As his consort, Ecaterina accompanied him in the turbulent years of exile and discovered an ancient force influencing their lives. Her devotion to him was eternal, and she followed him into immortality…

About the Author

Christine Lee Frost received a master's in literature and creative writing from Harvard Extension in 2008. An editor by day and an avid researcher and writer by night, she lives in the Boston area. This is her first novel.


Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me and allowing us a glimpse into your writing word. Patti


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