I’m Merrie Haskell, and this is where you can learn more about my books by asking questions or reading my answers to other people’s questions.Â I don’t expect this blog to start hopping until my first book is actually published, so in the meantime, I’m going to share some occasional tidbits about what sorts of research I did on The Princess Curse and what I’m doing on my current book.
The Princess Curse is about an herbalist’s apprentice in 15th century Romania–or rather, a piece of Romania that never was, a place I invented between Transylvania, Moldavia, and the region now known as MaramureÅŸ. I call that made-up region Sylvania, because Transylvania means “beyond the forest.” So Sylvania is part of the forest, in this case.
Here is a really good gallery of images from MaramureÅŸ that I used for photo-references while writing the book, until I could visit Romania myself.Â The first image I linked to is a big gate, and there’s an explanation how each house has a gate, and the bigger and more elaborately carved the gate is, the more prosperous the house’s owners are.
Imagine the house this gate might have been on!Â It’s not currently the gate to a house, though; it’s from the Muzeul Civilizatsiei Populare Traditional “ASTRA”, which is an open-air ethnographic museum with samples of traditional churches, houses, taverns, cottages, mills, roadside shrines–everything you can think of–from all around Romania, picked up and put on display in this park.
I can’t guess if this gate was an original one removed from elsewhere or if it was built specifically for the museum, but it’s impressive nonetheless.Â I imagine the palace gates in The Princess Curse are similar–only carved with dragons, of course.