Cachtice Castle, Slovakia
The novel was started about a year and a half ago. I was just finishing it when my husband suddenly died. It took me ten months to just read through it before it went to my editor and then onto my publisher.
Tough year, murderous. Perhaps, as this is the darkest work I have ever written, it was a portent of things to come. It is possible, anything is possible. I'm a big believer in that.
The months pass, I am at last able to send it to Natalie G. Owens, herself an outstanding author and also a great editor. She returned it to me, with a suggestion. Basically, she suggested I include an Author's Note explaining what makes this book as controversial as it is. I agreed and wrote one. But instead of placing it in the back of the book which is usual, I asked for it to be in the front. Why needlessly shock readers I thought.
So here it is:
I feel it is incumbent upon me to add a note to this novel. Initially, when I ﬁrst thought of writing about Countess Erzsebet Bathory, I feared I could not. How can someone write about such a monster and from her point of view?! I have to say some of the text verges on the obscene and is certainly controversial yet let me say that much of the torture I depicted was a kind Bathory actually condoned (and participated in herself).
Still, I felt the only way to write about her was to be honest and provide realism, not a watered down version of this real blood monster, despite the fact some parts of her life and exploits were omitted. That is what I endeavored to do. Countess Erzsebet Bathory, The Blood Countess, was a sexual sadist and a mass murderer. I have no qualms about demonstrating this. In her case, she had absolute power. Bathory was debauched and evil, an amoral murdering maniac whose every whim was catered for by other sexual sadists in her employ only too happy to participate. Her mood swings, psychotic episodes, and irrational, inconsistent thinking are essentially the traits of a psychopath. I attributed the cause of her rages to blind jealousy.
I do feel she was jealous of those young women around her and that was the spark that lit the slow-burning embers of her insanity, which soon had her lose touch with all semblance of control and reality. She was getting older and becoming obsessed with her fading beauty. She had a special mirror constructed so that she could lean her arms on shelves and study her reﬂection for hours. The sexual sadism and the proclivity for murder was, I believe, always present. She witnessed horriﬁc punishments meted out to thieves and others by staff as a child. This must have thrilled and inspired her as the madness was already there. She lived in a brutal age, in a backward country.
This was no Golden Age of Elizabeth, but a time when people in her country believed that mandrake, cut from the foot of a gallows, held magical powers as the semen of those hanged men dripped on it after a ﬁnal erection! The term now in use to refer to such a thing is autoerotic asphyxiation. Magic was believed in, as was witchcraft, and despite Bathory’s education, she was a product of her time. She believed everything her servant lover and advisor, Darvulia, also known as the Witch of the Forest, told her. The fact that hundreds of girls went missing in Cachtice and no one did anything about it says a lot about the time and the place.
Her crimes were discovered ﬁnally by a Lutheran minister who actually witnessed one murder. An investigation was held, at last. Still, when the horriﬁc scale of her crimes became known, even her enemy, Thurzo, the Palatine, did not wish her tried. He kept pleading on her behalf as he felt putting her on trial would denigrate the nobility. Finally, the king conceded: Countess Báthory would not be brought to public trial.
In light of the evidence, Thurzo recommended his original sentence of perpetuis carceribus (life imprisonment), rather than the death penalty. By order of Parliament, the name of Erzsebat Bathory would never again be spoken in polite society anyway. The judgment was that she be walled up in her own castle. I happen to think she was just locked in her bedchamber and fed. I don’t think she was treated royally, which is some comfort.
A really important note to stress here is the real Bathory’s crimes and torture methods were far worse than most of what I have depicted in this book, and that’s saying a lot! In order to make her real, I depicted her as the violent she devil I think she was, a blood- lusting lunatic who was also sexually degenerate. That is my advisory. This is one of the worst monsters that have existed in history and this is her story as I tell it. Much of it is factual but some of it ﬁctionalized as she wasn’t really a vampire. Thank you for reading,
(End of note)
So there you go. And here it is, now for the first time being priced at 99 cents/99 pence on promotion, beginning Monday - Sunday.
99 CENTS NOW!
99 CENTS NOW!