When I sat down to research and plot out The Witch’s Salvation I had every intention of writing a light-hearted vampire novel about two adolescents, who had been born mortal to immortal shape shifters of royal lineage. While researching the Carpathian Mountains, the setting for the novel, and vampire myths, I read about the history of Prince Vlad III, aka Dracula and the “father” of all vampire stories. The historical or real Dracula was actually a prince, who ruled Wallachia, an ancient region of Romania three times during his short life. Dracula was a product of his time. He used torture, most notably impalement, to establish order and power and enforce submission. I was pulled in to his ignoble history and deeds and all the myths and legends built up around them. After more research I changed the entire tone and tune of the novel. I weaved myth with history, added creative licence, and came up with the final plot of The Witch’s Salvation.
The first historical fact on which the novel is based is an event. On Easter Sunday, 1457, Dracula invited the nobles and their families that had had a hand in the death of his father and older brother to celebrate Easter with him. After an elaborate religious ceremony and feast, he impaled the older nobles in the courtyard of his castle and forced the others to trek to a mountain top where they built him another castle. They all died during the construction.
The second historical fact concerns a golden cup that Dracula kept in a public area, near a well or spring. People could use the golden cup to drink, but they could not take it. Should someone take it, he or she would have been immediately punished, probably impaled or some other form of slow death and torture. From all accounts, no one ever did. My male and female protagonists, Matthias and Anasztasia, have to go back over 550 years in time to 1457 and to that fateful Easter Sunday to find that golden cup and return it to the present time. If they can do that, a young woman, who their families turned into a witch during that time, can regain her humanity and they can become immortal just like their families.
Now that I had the basic premise for The Witch’s Salvation, I focused on the characters. My critique partners at the University of Toronto thought my major characters were well-rounded. They had conflicts and motivations and by the end of the novel, developed and changed as a result of their experiences. But they also wanted my secondary characters, who mainly appear in the historical section to be well-rounded. Renata the Gypsy girl, Friar Gavril, Andrei the warrior and the bad guy, Petru the Proud were therefore given their own stories and fleshed out, too.
The Witch’s Salvation was supposed to be a fun and lively romp with misfired connections and improbable romances. But the time I had finished, it had become an expansive time-travel filled with action, adventure, and romance. It also became both plot and character driven.
The Witch’s Salvation is Francesca Pelaccia’s debut novel and the first book of The Witch’s Trilogy. A teacher and now at long last an author, Francesca has written in other genres but enjoys creating and writing time-travel fantasies. Francesca blogs on the craft of writing especially as it relates to genre and reviews books. Currently she is working on the second book of The Witch’s Trilogy entitled The Witch’s Monastery. Visit Francesca at www.francescapelaccia.com.