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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Stephanie Burkhart

Creating Setting & Using the Moonlight

What is more romantic than a kiss under the moonlight? I love having a romantic scene in my writing under the moonlight. For me, setting is an extra element, once mastered, that can "amp" up the romance in a story.

Before I write, I research the setting. The first thing I attempt to do is visit the setting. It really helps give a writer a solid idea of what the place is like. In 1997, I had an opportunity to visit Budapest on a USO morale trip when I was deployed to Hungary.

It was wonderful! Budapest is filled with romantic sights, the Széchenyi Bridge, the Danube River, and Fisherman's Bastian – just to name a few. It was a visit that visually resonated with me.

If I can't visit my setting, I get on the Internet and check out pictures. I print off what I can. I check out maps so I can learn the lay of the streets.

I also look at the history of the setting. Hungary was a crossroads nation in Central Europe with several cultures coming to pass through and settle there. The seven towers on Fisherman's Bastian represent the seven Magyar tribes that settled there.

Then I try to do a little extra: what types of food are served there? Does the setting make wine? What are the seasons like there? What do they do for the holidays? I try to blend those subtle things into the story's settings. In The Hungarian, Matthias is a wine maker who makes tokaji, a Hungarian dessert wine. He has an estate on Lake Balaton, and his favorite view is that of the Danube and the Parliament building from his study.

5 Cool things about Budapest:

1. The Széchenyi Bridge: It was built in the 1840's and was one of the world's first suspension bridges.

2. Fisherman's Bastian: Built in 1901-1902, this is a ½ mile wall along Buda Hill.

3. The Danube

4. The Parliament Building. This was built in 1896.

5. Goulash soup. It's hearty and meaty, and will keep you warm in winter!

Link to The Hungarian book trailer:

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Diane Craver said...

I can't imagine anything more romantic than a kiss under the moonlight. :)

I just read what you said about visiting your setting for your book research. LOL I wanted to visit the Blue Ridge Mt. area this summer for my wip but my husband didn't want to go.

Thanks for sharing about Budapest - I enjoyed learning more about it. I've never been there.

Sherry Gloag said...

Thanks for sharing the way you set about creating your settings. Reseach is the one thing I find so frustrating. I never seem to put in the right words to find what I'm looking for. I often get distracted withthe stuff that does come up, but it's no help for what I'm trying to find!! duh. LOL

Linda Banche said...

I love the moon. I always have the moon in my stories, and I try to make sure the phase is correct. Not that anyone who's kissing under the moon cares about its phase!

Stephanie Burkhart said...

DIANE - I'm a such a sucker for moonlight. Sigh...

SHERRY - Research can frustrating. I find I have to focus. If I'm trying to describe something I might pause, write a paragraph about it and see how that works.

LINDA - The best kiss is under a full moon! hehe


Unknown said...

STEPH--I'd love to see Budapest in the sunshine or the moonlight. We were there 2 1/2 days, and truly, it rained every minute--or was about to. Our hotel was on a river and I could no see what was on the other side until we drove over the bridge. Lovely places, though, and while I did appreciate it, the city didn't capture my heart as some of the other European cities--even those we used to call Eastern Europe. Celia

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Steph,
Ooh yes, a kiss under the moonlight does it for me too. Your research is wonderful,that's what makes your book so great. I'd love to go to Budapest



Joanna Aislinn said...

Read 'em both and liking them so far, especially casting those characters, Stephenie. Looking forward to the rest of your posts this week--thank you!

Joanna Aislinn
The Wild Rose Press