18 December 2016

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Lucille Turner on THE SULTAN, THE VAMPYR AND THE SOOTHSAYER

This week, we're pleased to welcome author LUCILLE TURNER with her latest release,  THE SULTAN, THE VAMPYR AND THE SOOTHSAYER.Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's Sunday's author interview for a chance to win a FREE copy of the novel - open internationally. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

1442: The Ottoman Turks are advancing through the Balkans with Vienna in their sights and Constantinople, the Orthodox Greek capital, within their grasp. Dracul, ruler of Wallachia (present-day Romania), will pay almost any price to save his country, but he will not surrender to the blackmail of the cardinals of Rome; he will not betray the Greeks.

When Vlad, his middle son, begins to show signs of the ancestral sickness, Dracul vows to deliver him into safety. But time is running short. To some, Vlad Dracula is a strigoi, the worst of all evils; to others, he is the son of a righteous man. Confrontational, charismatic and manipulative, he tests family and enemy alike. Surely he is destined for power, but of what kind?

The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer weaves a web of intrigue in a world that will divide forever. As Eastern Europe struggles against the tide of a Muslim advance it cannot counter, Western Christendom needs only one prize to overthrow its enemies – the ancient scrolls of the library of Constantinople.

**Q&A with Lucille Turner**

 Is this a ‘vampire book’?

No, the vampire element in this book takes the form of an inner struggle, which the real vampire myth actually represents. That is not to say that there are not other references to the vampire persona, because there are, except that these ‘vampire’ elements do not involve fangs and blood. They are subtler than that, and based on the folklore of Romania and Transylvania rather than on the sensationalistic elements that have developed over the last century or so. This is historical fiction, but with an element of the supernatural running through it in the form of myth and legend. The Ottoman side of the story also has its own superstitions, its own fears, and when Vlad Dracula bursts upon the scene, things do not become any simpler.

How much of this story is true?

True to the genre of historical fiction, the historical facts about the life of Vlad Dracula, his family and that of the Ottoman dynasty have been preserved in this book as far as they are known. Vlad Dracula and his younger brother Radu spent a number of years at the palace of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II, where they encountered the Sultan’s notorious son Mehmet. The unsustainable politics that forced the Dracul family into such a tight corner were certainly responsible for the tragedies the family as a whole was forced to endure. As for the parts of the book that touch upon the myth of the vampire, or strigoi, in Romania, these are based on documented evidence from the region itself, which has a cult of the dead on a par with Ancient Egypt. I drew on this folklore when I wrote the book, as well as on the stories of the Goths, and their close cousins the Getae, of Gets, who populated the Black Sea regions in ancient times. There I found a link to the vampire myth in the legend of the wolf-men of the Goths and the ‘twice-born’ of the Gets. It was these legends and myths, together with the local customs and traditions based around the locally undisputed existence of the Romanian strigoi that helped me re-imagine the connection between the Dracul family and their ‘vampire’ future.

What was the inspiration for the book?

The initial inspiration for The Sultan, the Vampyr and the Soothsayer came after I visited Istanbul in 2012. What fascinated me about the Topkapı palace at Istanbul was the harem, which was a real labyrinth of courtyards and rooms. It struck me as a prison, which is effectively what it was, even though many historians stress the power that certain women had at one point in the seraglio of the Ottoman court. Nevertheless, it was a kind of female prison, and the female characters in my book, on the Ottoman side, are forced to battle against not only their keepers, the men, but also against their fellow inmates, the women — none of which makes for an easy life.

The second element of the book, the Romanian or Rumani one, was suggested by a book on Romanian folklore, discovered in a French library. The book is out of print now; if that book was not the last copy in circulation, it was certainly one of the last. It was a documented exploration of the myth of the Romanian vampire, complete with bibliography. It presented the vampire in a totally new light, and inspired me to view the vampire myth differently.

What is the book really about?

The principal theme of the book is the struggle between good and evil. There is also the clash of two civilisations and two faiths, Christian and Muslim. That is not to say that one is good and the other bad — not at all. On each side both fathers have sons who were not meant to rule but who end up on the throne. Both fathers have dreams for their country, but their sons have other plans. It has to end badly, and it does. But still, the real enemy is not on the battlefields of the Balkans or even at the walls of Constantinople, it is the enemy within, the darker side in all of us that pushes us to take what we want, regardless of the cost.

Learn more about author Lucille Turner

Author’s website: http://www.lucilleturner.com/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sultan-Vampyr-Soothsayer-Lucille-Turner/dp/1527202062/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sultan-Vampyr-Soothsayer-Lucille-Turner/dp/1527202062/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucilleETurner
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LucilleETurner/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32313477-the-sultan-the-vampyr-and-the-soothsayer