National Novel-Writing and Transylvania 

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Though my novel was originally set in a quasi-Germanic country, recently I have come to superimpose the adventures of my characters over Alba County in Romania where I was born.

The castle I originally envisioned resembled Deva citadel in Hunedoara County, though in my novel it is not a citadel but a moated castle. It is near woods which in my mind rather resembled the woods on the hills near my ancestral village, Tibru, some fourteen kilometres from the county seat of Alba Iulia. Tibru has the Roman citadel which becomes a castle. I just wrote in the Tibru cemetery and the werewolf's house next to my grandparents house, though I have yet to use these to greater effect.

The village down the hill from Tibru is called Cricău and is the site of a vampire plague in the middle of my novel. In my family's history it was where the witch who cursed my grandmother lived.

As for the smallish town where the introduction takes place, I am trying to replace my Germanic town with the Romanian town of Turda in Cluj County which neighbours Alba.

The problem is that though I am using the general geography, I've had to retain the Anglo-German names of my characters and the details that make the story clearly North American. (I've also not bothered correcting the anachronisms as my novel makes no claims to being a piece of historical fiction.) In my mind I also can't stop picturing Germanic housing that occasionally becomes Victorian English.

The other problem is what I do about place names. I am writing with the geography and details of Alba County, with the majority of the story set in a fictional castle. But I love the Romanian names, with their accent markings that confuse foreigners.

One possibility is changing the Romanian names to something vaguely English: Cricău (pronounced Kree-Kugh-Oo in Romanian) to Crick.

I am also fluctuating between using the Romanian names interspersed with the German and Hungarian ones, depening on whim.

Turda, for example, could thus be Thorenburg in German; Alba Iulia would retain its Romanian name if I can stop myself from torturing myself with its curious Hungarian version, Gyulafehérvár; and Cricău could switch to its Hungarian name, Boroskrakkó.

The only sure thing is that my "research" is making me very, very homesick.

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