Monday, May 3, 2010

Guest Steph Burkhart: Myths of the Moon

Today I welcome fellow Classic Romance Revival author Steph Burkhart. Steph blogs about her latest book, The Hungarian, a Victorian paranormal about those perennial favorites, werewolves.

Leave a comment today, May 3, with your email address for a chance to win prizes. See the end of the post for Steph's generous listing of the prizes available. Steph will select the winner. Check back here to see who won. The postcard winners are Karen H in NC and Mary Ricksen. Please send Steph an email to or with your snail mail address so she can mail you your prize.

Welcome, Steph!

I'm excited to be here at Linda's blog, the fourth stop on my mini blog tour for "The Hungarian." My thanks to Linda for having me today.

Beware. The Wolf is Coming.

"The Hungarian," is my latest paranormal release. Count Matthias Duma harbors a dark secret, but when he meets a young British noblewoman, Katherine Archibald, he risks everything for her love. What's his secret? He's a werewolf.

I love a good wolf. " *grin* Why? Because the wolf is also a man. He's alive, he's living and breathing. For me, it's not about the wolf, it's about how the man deals with the beast inside him.

Every paranormal creature brought to life in books is grounded in "myths." Without myths that the readers are familiar with, it's hard to connect to the story. I thought I'd talk about the myth of the werewolf as it pertains to "The Hungarian."

I consider myself a classic myth author. What are the classic myths when it comes to wolves?

#1 – Silver will kill a werewolf.
#2 – You make a werewolf when bitten by a werewolf.
#3 – You're only a werewolf during the full moon.

#1- Silver will kill a werewolf. Actually, any bullet with fierce stopping power could probably kill a werewolf. History also lists burning at the stake and cutting off the head. " *ick* I much prefer using silver as my weapon of choice. It's less gruesome. Silver has always been associated with the moon. Perhaps it's the color since the moon appears silver-gray in the night sky.

#2 – You make a werewolf when bitten by a werewolf. That's a pretty classic myth that's come down through the ages. In fact, that's how Count Matthias is created. A bunch of gypsy werewolves who were just passing through attacked him during the full moon.

#3 – You're only a werewolf during the full moon. The early movies took creative license with this, making it a "classic" myth. More historical myths state that once bitten, a werewolf stayed a werewolf. I subscribe the classic Hollywood myth. It's more fun. It allows me to explore the psyche of the man who is a wolf. Matthias also changes back into his human state by sunrise. The transformations are painful to his body. I built on this in that a witch, trained in herbs and roots, helps the wolf by preparing potions and balms to help him heal.

You can build all kinds of myths for the werewolf world, but for me, working within the confines of classic myths was very rewarding.

In that regard, I wanted a cover that taped into a classic feeling. I also wanted it to focus on the man, not the wolf.

Matthias is Hungarian and Budapest is the jewel of the nation. Nothing captures the pride and achievement Hungarians feel more than the Széchenyi Bridge. It was constructed in the 1840's, and was one of the first suspension bridges built.

Matthias also has unusual eyes, malachite-green with a gold ring around the iris. Jenifer Ranieri, the cover artist, was able to blend Matthias's eyes with the Széchenyi Bridge to set a gothicly romantic tone for the story.

What I love is how everything came together. While staying true to classic myths and creating such an expressive cover, the story inside keeps it's focus on the man who is the wolf, and allows the romance to shine.


"Now it's time for you and Miss Archibald to dance," said Resa.

Katherine waved her hands. "I couldn't dance that."

"You don't have to. We can dance the Csándás," said Matthias.

Resa clapped her hands again. "Yes, it's perfect."

"I don't know how."
"I'll show you," said Resa.
"Go on, Kate," said Liz, smiling. "Give it a try."

Katherine took Matthias's hand, and he helped her to her feet. Martin and János played their music at a slow tempo. Resa showed her a couple of steps at a time. It took about ten minutes, but Katherine seemed to pick it up. Matthias danced it slow for her the first time. There wasn't much jumping, but it was a rather square-type dance, and there was clapping involved. When the song ended, Resa approached.

"Let me dance with Count Duma at the normal pace. Watch me. Try to twirl the skirt when I do."

Katherine nodded her head. Again, the music started, and Matthias danced with Resa. From time to time Resa would look at Katherine to make sure she was watching. Matthias was pleased at how Resa was trying to help Katherine learn the dance.

The dance finished in a flurry of moves, with Matthias wrapping his hands around Resa's waist and Resa resting her head against his shoulder. She quickly parted from him and looked at Katherine. "Remember, it starts off slow but builds up to a quick ending."

"All right," Katherine said.

Matthias took Katherine's hand again. The music began. They danced in front of the fire. Liz and Paul clapped to the beat. They danced around the pit, laughing and clapping. The guitar played faster, the flute hit higher notes. Resa sang in Hungarian. They danced quicker, and when the Csándás ended, Resa threw powder into the fire. The fire crackled. It hissed loudly and then the flames turned colors -- purple, blue, green, and white before slowly returning to yellow. Matthias held Katherine tight against his muscular body. He felt her heart pulsing with energy just like his was.

"How did you do that?" asked Paul.
"Magic," replied Resa.

"Well done, Resa," said Matthias. Then he looked down into Katherine's eyes. "I've enjoyed myself tonight."

"So have I."

"Ah-hum," said Liz.

Katherine reluctantly tore herself away from Matthias's all-consuming stare. He wasn't ready to let the moment die. They sat down and he offered her a glass of wine. Their hands touched. He felt a warm tingle slide down his arm. Encouraged, he leaned closer to her.

"Did you like the dance?"
"It's different."
"I haven't danced like that since--" he paused. "Since my wife died."
"I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought her up."
"She was a part of your life."

"But she is no longer. You're here now," he said. He put his hand on her waist, and with his other hand lightly ran his fingers down her arm to her wrist, unable to tame his desire to touch her intimately. She wrapped a silent spell around him in that moment -- one he didn't want to be broken. He glanced over and noticed that Paul and Liz were busy asking Resa about her magic fire and refilling their wine glances.

He looked at Katherine. Their eyes met. Lost in her soft spell, he snared her mouth in a sensual trap. She kissed him back with equal passion. Their mouths opened and closed, tasting each other like they were savoring the sweetest tokaji. Matthias loved feeling her warmth so close to him. Lost in a sea of bliss, he trailed his kisses over her chin and down to her neck. His head spun. He groaned his delight. His hand cupped the nape of her neck, arching her toward him, giving him full access to her sensitized flesh.

The music started again. Katherine lightly pushed Matthias away, breaking their contact. Her eyes were filled with untamed desire, yet hinted at confusion.

Check out "The Hungarian's" Book Trailer at:

Goodie Time:

I'll pick two winners out of those who post on today's blog to receive an autographed postcard of "The Hungarian's" Cover.

To qualify for the GRAND prize: You have to post on every blog in the tour. I'll put your name into the "hat." Then I'll pick the Grand Prize Winner's name out of the hat.

The GRAND prize: A coffee mug with "The Hungarian's" cover, a mousepad with the cover, magnets, and a set of autographed postcards.

The Hungarian is available 1 MAY 2010 with Desert Breeze Publishing. Here's a link to the site:


Anonymous said...
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Linda Banche said...

Hi Steph. I love your info on werewolves. And congrats on your release--sounds great!

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Steph and Linda!

I agree that silver is less gruesome, also more romantic. ;-)

StephB said...

Hi all. I agree - silver much less gruesome. hehe. Looking forward to being here today, Linda. Thanks for having me.


Mary Ricksen said...

You have a wonderful imagination, I can't wait to read this. I love when people write any new take on werewolves. There is just something about the moon, it makes you want to HHHHHHHHHOOOOOWWWWWWLLLLL!
Great blog! Can't wait to read the new release. Yes off with their heads is a bit gruesome!

StephB said...

Mary, nice to meet you. I agree - off with their heads was a little too gruesome.


Karen H in NC said...

I love that cover...just beautiful!

Very interesting blog today Steph. I know zilch about werewolves so I am wondering about their lifespan. Are they known to live forever same as vampires?

StephB said...

Thanks for asking. Werewolves, generally, do not live forever. They do however have an extended life, aging slowly. Matthias put his life span between 150-200 years.


Kelley said...

Budapest is such a mysterious city with lots of history. Seems like the perfect place for a werewolf tale. Your book sounds interesting and I love historical paranormals.

Lilly Gayle said...

Great post. And I love your trailer. I also prefer the "classic" myths about werewolves and vampires. But a twist in the myth is also fun, esp. if it adds intrigue and mystery to the story.

Erotic Horizon said...

Cool exceprt - Congrats on the release..

I am loving the cover on this one - alot..


liana laverentz said...

The excerpt just keep getting better and better! Thanks for the info on werewolves. Darn moon last night managed to peek in between the two inch gap at the top of the blinds and shine right into my eyes!

StephB said...

Hi everyone. Thanks so much for popping in today. Remember to post on the other blogs to be be eligable for the grand prize.

Budapest is indeed a lovely city with a lot of history. I enjoyed my visit there when I went in 1997. Lilly, I agree a twist on the myth is fun, too and there's a twist or two in the story. Liana, I've been enjoying picking out the excerpts. It's been fun. EH - I love the cover, too. Jen did a fabulous job!

The postcards winners are Karen H in NC and Mary Ricksen.

Please send me a email to or with your snail mail and I'll get those postcards in the mail for you.


Kaye Manro said...

Good to see you hear, Steph. Sorry I missed all the action yesterday!

Very good post!

StephB said...

No worries, Kaye! Catch me on another stop.


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