Friday, September 16, 2011

Beautiful Worlds - The Magic of Budapest

By: Stephanie Burkhart

I've always been drawn to Europe's castles, it's towering cathedrals, and it's quaint little villages. When I was stationed in Germany in the late 1980's and early 1990's, I loved going on "volksmarches" throughout the countryside and seeing the heart of the nation.

A View from Fisherman's Bastian

Then the Berlin Wall fell and opened up a totally new and exhilarating world – the Eastern half of Europe. Having been guarded by an "iron curtain," this side of Europe was exposed to all after 40 years. In 1997, I was deployed to Kaspovar, Hungary and in Oct that year, I went on a USO tour to Budapest. Next to Berlin, Budapest is one of the most beautiful worlds I've ever seen, so it was fitting, when I was crafting a new paranormal series involving witches and werewolves, Budapest seemed like the most natural setting in the world for the series.

Overlooking the Danube

There are two sides to Budapest – Buda and Pest. The city is divided by the Danube River and there are three bridges and multiple islands in the river. The Buda side is to the west on a hill overlooking the river and houses the St. Matthias Church, Fisherman's Bastian, and the Castle district, including the royal castle, Buda Castle. The Pest side is to the east of the river, relativity flat and houses the Parliament building, The University of Fine Arts, and the downtown shopping area. Budapest's main train terminal is in Pest. The Széchenyi Bridge is a suspension bridge first built in the 1840's to connect the two cities.

View of Szchenyi Bridge

St. Matthias Church is one of the oldest churches in Budapest. It's over 700 years old and is next to Fisherman's Bastian. The Bastian is a series of seven towers overlooking the Danube, representing the seven Magyar tribes that settled the city. It was completed in 1902. Buda Castle was built on the southern tip of Castle Hill, bounded on the north by what is known as the Castle District famous for its Medieval, Baroque and 19th century houses, churches and public buildings.

Buda Castle at Night

The Parliament building was completed in 1896 and houses the Hungarian Parliament. The Hungarians have proven themselves to have quite a flair for their architecture. At night, when the lights shine over the city, it comes alive with old world ambience. A reader just might believe the city is full of magic, and with that magic, you just might believe in werewolves.

Hungarian Parliament

Book 1, The Hungarian, takes place between England and Hungary in 1901. On the cover is a picture of the Széchenyi Bridge which stands tall and proud, a true testament to Hungarian tenacity and their strong will.

Szechenyi Bridge

Book 2, The Count's Lair, takes place during the Christmas season of 1901-1902. On the cover is a depiction of a castle, "Ravenwind," Anton's estate, lit up at night time, capturing that old world ambience.

Fisherman's Bastian completed 1902

Book 3, Danube in Candlelight, takes place in the summer of 1922. It is due to be released in NOV 2011, and while I don't have the cover, the book addresses the Hungarian peoples' strong will as it struggles to overcome the shadow of World War I.

Book Trailers:

The Hungarian:

The Count's Lair:

Reviews for The Hungarian:

"I enjoyed this book immensely... Katherine doesn’t know exactly what she’s getting into when she falls in love with Matthias but she proves to be a strong heroine that I could really root for. Matthias is dark and troubled, to me an old-fashioned romance hero who needs the love of a strong woman to bring him back from the dark side...This is an excellent book and I think fans of both the paranormal and historical romances will really, really enjoy it."

Happily Ever After Reviews
Rating = 5 Cups of Tea and BUY NOW!

"This book is extremely entertaining. The plot is sensual and romantic. Katherine and Mathias play were together. This is the first book in a new series. I look forward to reading the next entry."

Reader's Favorites - Book Reviews
Rating = 5 Stars

Reviews for: The Count's Lair:

"Want a recipe for a great story? Take an awesome writer like Ms. Burkhart, stir in her intimate knowledge of Hungary, her innate ability to create wonderful characters, a book-full of suspense, mystery and passion and you get a book you can’t put down."

Fennel -- Long and Short Reviews
Rating = 5 Books.
Nominated for BOOK OF THE WEEK!

The Count’s Lair is filled with suspense, mystery, passion, and the paranormal. This story is set in the beautiful city of Budapest; the author brings her knowledge of the area to her plot. She describes the history and culture of Budapest... I was cheering for Anton. However, for me the best scene was the last one when Anton gives Amelia her choice. He held her with an open hand."

Reader's Favorite Book Reviews
Rating = 5 Stars

Find me on the Web at:






Lindsay Townsend said...

Wonderful post, Steph! Reading about Buda and Pest and more I'm not surprised you were inspired to write your lovely, romantic stories!

I'd love to visit these places and each time I read your work I feel as if I have.

Truly a beautiful world - many thanks.

StephB said...

Lindsay, thanks for visiting Budapest with me today. hehe. I would love to go back and visit the city if I ever have a chance.


Savanna Kougar said...

Stephanie, thank you so much for those fabulous pictures, and the commentary. I so wish I could visit Budapest. Just the architecture alone inspires my soul.

Congrats on all your success! And much more.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hi Steph,

How lovely that you are able to intersect your flair for writing, your gifted imagination, and your love for this international setting. The setting is so picturesque that it practically begs for a story to be told. Great books by a great author!


Mona Risk said...

Hi Steph, imagine that only 11 days ago exactly, I was in Budapest admiring the unique architecture of this capital. You compared it to Berlin. I haven't seen Berlin, but I called Budapest a blend of Paris and Moscow. An amzing city that we toured by bus with a guide, then walking for four hours, then by night. I have pictures in front of the Fisherman's Bastian, and every one of these buildings.

After enjoying so much the Wolf's Torment I can't wait to read, the next book.

Linda Banche said...

Gorgeous pictures, Steph. I hate traveling, but if I wanted to go somewhere, I would put Budapest on my list.

And great reviews! Good for you.

Celia Yeary said...

Yes, such a beautiful world. We were in Budapest about 2003--our last trip to Europe. I did not want to go back after 9/11, but my husband really wanted to return one more time--we'd been four times. His choice--what is called Eastern Europe, but the tour companies called it Central Europe. I agreed, dragging my feet, because I did not see how Eastern Europe could be very pretty or interesting.
We enjoyed all our trips, but this last one turned out to be such a joy, such a grand adventure, that we were thrilled we did go.
Thanks for the gorgeous photos...Celia

Kim in Hawaii said...

Aloha, Steph! Great spotlight on Budapest - brings back fond memories of our visit to Budapest when we lived in the Netherlands.

That's why I enjoy reading romance books set in far away places - we can visit them again through the pages!

R. Ann Siracusa said...

Very nice Blog. Budapest is one of my favorite places. I wish I'd been able to spend more time there. I can't think of a more inspiring city for the setting of a novel.

StephB said...

Ladies, I know I'm late popping back in, but thanks so much for visiting Budapest with me.

Ann & Kim, ah, I agree - I loved my visit to Budapest. It was very inspiring for me.

Celia, yes, Central Europe is an untapped gem that I think people nowadays are just rediscovering because the borders have dropped. Certainlly, I don't think I would have gone if the Cold War was still going on.

Linda, Budapest would be a cool addition to the travel itnerary, I assure you. :)

Mona, you are so well traveled! I highly recommend Berlin though it will look different from what I remember. I'm so glad you enjoyed The Wolf's Torment. The sequel will be released JAN 2012.

Savanna, I loved the archeture of the city - very romantic and soul stiring.

((hugs)) to all