Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My Hometown, Sarospatak #OurAuthorGang

Sarospatak will always be my hometown
no matter where I choose to live.
by Erika M Szabo

I grew up in this lovely historical town, Sárospatak, in northern Hungary of the Bodrog river valley.
The area has been inhabited since ancient times and Sárospatak was granted town status in 1201 by King Emeric. Today the town is a tourist attraction and an important cultural center.
The Rakoczi var's ground was one of my favorite playgrounds when I was a kid. We played the wargame with my friends and defended the castle against the Habsburgs with toy swords and muskets.

The cultural center was beautifully rebuilt after I moved away. I have fond memories from my childhood researching in the library and enjoying the wide variety of programs in the theater.  

I found this picture of people relaxing in the cultural center's plaza. 

The waterpark is a major tourist attraction today. When I was a kid, there was only one pool where people relaxed in the hot thermal water that is known to ease arthritis pain. 
There is a beautiful tradition every year when the town celebrates the patron saint, St. Erzsebet's life. People dress up in costumes and reenact Erzsebet's life from birth to her death.


Hungarians have a special bond with horses and there is rarely a celebration without them.

Even Santa comes to town with the Krampuses on horseback.

The novella I published last year plays out in Sarospatak. Jayden, an archeologist from New York is fascinated by Hungarian history and participating in an important dig in Sarospatak. His sister, Emily, decides to spend her summer vacation from medical school in their grandmother's home and joins her brother. By coincident or fate, she meets her childhood playmate, Daniel, at the airport. Daniel never forgot his first love and they rekindle their bond on the long flight to Budapest. Emily meets her excited brother and Jayden tells her that he found a leather book in his grandmother's secret room. the book was written in 426 by a shaman. Emily can read the ancient runes, and they learn about their family's curse. They also find out that the curse cast by their ancestor remains unbroken, it will bring tragedy and ruin their lives as it destroyed many of their ancestors' lives for centuries. Will they find the way to break the ancient curse? Could Emily find happiness with her childhood friend, Daniel?


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Read a short excerpt:
Present day
“Wow!” Sofia blurted as they entered the secret room. “You were right, there are lots of treasures in here.”
“I looked only in this trunk but look at the shelves.”
Sofia walked to the shelves and touched the carved, wooden and stone statues one by one. “Look,” she said, “the Sacred Turul. This wood carving is a masterpiece!”
“Yes, I estimate it to be at least a thousand years old. Look at this horse.” He pointed at the black onyx statue.
“Magnificent!” Sofia marveled.
“We can look at those later,” Jayden mentioned to Sofia. “Let’s see if we can find more writing in the trunk.”
“Okay…” Sofia hesitantly replied. She was having a hard time averting her eyes from rows after rows of statues, jewelry, headdresses adorned with beads, gold chalices and bowls.
Jayden opened the wooden trunk and started taking out the items that were wrapped in leather. He pulled the coverings open which revealed swords, knives, handmade leather shoes, and carefully-wrapped scrolls.
“Jay, look!” Sofia pointed at the inside of the trunk lid. “There’s an envelope and it doesn’t seem old.”
Jayden grabbed the corner of the white envelope but couldn’t pull it away. “It seems to be glued to the top,” he stated as he carefully lifted the corner with a knife and pried it away from the wood without ripping the paper.
As he turned it he saw writing on the envelope. “For Sofia and Jayden,” he read out loud. “It’s Grandma’s handwriting and it’s for us.” He sat down on a box, opened the envelope and pulled out the folded letter. He started reading it out loud.
Dearest Sofia and Jayden,
You’re reading this letter, which means I’m gone. I swore to your mother that I would never tell you about the family curse, but I cannot take it to my grave. Although your mother always strongly believed that it is merely a stupid legend and refused to listen to me, I must let you know somehow. Jayden, your life in danger…

The year 426 in the Carpathian Basin
As they got close to the trees and peeked out, they saw disheveled men sitting on the ground around fires. Their savage laughs, as they were eating and drinking, cut through to their hearts. Elana gasped when she saw the lifeless bodies of her neighbors thrown to the ground. Zala turned to Elana and raised his eyebrow, silently asking if she was ready. Her eyes shone with anger. She nodded and placed an arrow on her bow and pulled the string, aiming at the head of the loudest bandit who seemed to be the horde’s leader.
Zala whispered, “You have lost the most. You have the right to revenge.”
Elana let the arrow fly, and it pierced the bandit’s forehead between his eyes, coming out at the back of his head halfway. His body fell backward, limp and lifeless.
Zala looked at the waiting wolves and motioned them to go forward. The bandits scrambled to their feet in horror as their leader fell, and the wolves attacked them. Zala and Elana started riding around them in circles, aiming and shooting as the men tried to flee. A few slumped to the ground pierced by arrows, others screamed as the wolves chomped at their hands.
Elana spotted the alpha as he clamped his powerful jaw over a man’s wrist and with a jerk of his head, bit the hand off. And then Elana froze when she saw her mirror image looking at her with crazed eyes.
“Tuana!” Elana yelled and urged her horse toward the disheveled young woman.
Tuana turned her horse and kicked its side, urging the horse to a gallop. Within seconds they collided. The horses neighed in terror as the women were thrown off their backs by the impact. Both women jumped to their feet and faced each other. Elana gave out the warriors’ battle cry, raised her sword, and thrust it toward Tuana. Elana’s move was swift, but Tuana was fast as well and leaned out of the way of the deadly blow. As Tuana jumped back, she looked down with terror in her eyes. A gray wolf standing next to her growled and dropped Tuana’s hand on the ground; it was still clutching the sword. The wolf shook the blood from his muzzle, turned, and ran toward the bushes. Tuana stared at her stump as it spurted blood on her legs. 
Tuana howled like a wounded animal and then gave out an insane laugh as she held the stump of her arm close to her chest and started backing away. “I curse you and your descendants! Every woman in your bloodline will have a daughter like me who will be thrown away like garbage. The daughters will kill their brothers and leave their sister alive to carry the bloodline. All mothers for eternity will pay for what your mother did to me.” 
COMMENTS

Erika M Szabo

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
I had a great childhood Rick :) We didn't have cellphones or games and I was allowed to watch TV only an hour a day. But in order to play war games, we had to know the history. Therefore, because we didn't have YouTube and Google either, we listened to old people's stories and read books. Maybe because of that, I daydreamed a lot and made up stories about heroic historical figures.
 
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I also had a great childhood, as you know. Thus, like you, Erika, I have the benefit of a vivid imagination.

Erika M Szabo via Google+

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
My Hometown, Sarospatak #OurAuthorGang
Sarospatak will always be my hometown no matter where I choose to live. by Erika M Szabo http://www.authorerikamszabo.com I grew up in this lovely historical town, Sárospatak, in northern Hungary of the Bodrog river valley. The area has been inhabited since...
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Mary Anne Yarde

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
I am really enjoying learning about Hungarian culture. Your pictures are beautiful!
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Thank you Mary Anne :)

Eni T

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Loved it!
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I'm glad you did Eniko :)

Grace Au

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Your Hungary looks amazing! Thank you for sharing the photos and your rich heritage with us!
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My next post will be about Budapest with pictures of amazing historical buildings :)

Mackenzie Flohr

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Such beautiful pictures! I also enjoy learning about other cultures and history, so thank you for this post.
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Glad you enjoyed it :)

Cristina Grau

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Great video. Your town looks gorgeous. I bet it was nice growing up in such a place.
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Yes, it was :) I have lots of great memories

T.C. Rypel

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Delightful personal history, Erika, enhanced by all those breathtakingly beautiful pics and the tantalizing glimpse into "Cursed Bloodline," which I have to read!

We've discussed my own Central European roots (Poland), which factored heavily into my thrusting the samurai-Viking hero Gonji right into the Carpathian Mts., east of Buda and Pest, in my series' opening trilogy. All the research I pored over made me quite fond of the history and culture of this Vlad the Impaler territory. And all those wonderful native names transported me right back to my fictional dealings in the environs. You teleported my imagination to a place that I've always found haunting (right down to the wooden-spoon-spanking threats---did EVERY ethnic granny not hold a wooden spoon in reserve as a hedge against kids' misbehavior?!).

Kudos to you for this lovely posting and stirring text sample.
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I can imagine how much research you did for your awesome series Ted :) Isn't it amazing how many contradictory "facts" we can find when doing research of historical events? For example, the great Hun King, Attila, is still depicted as a brute savage in many books and articles. In fact, he was an educated man and a great leader. Was Vlad III a monster, or a medieval ruler like any other? The world may never know for sure because of the many contradictory information we can find. Vlad's cruelty is well documented in historical texts, but what often goes overlooked is how he combined this cruelty with cunning to terrorize his enemies as it was customary in his time.
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Yes! In my experience, the prevailing image of Attila, and historic Huns in general, is either: a) a complete misunderstanding of them ethnically---as if their "nomadic Asian-ness" saw them never evolve beyond their Genghis Khan/Mongol roots, over the centuries of European assimilation; or, b) a quick transition into stomping, faceless Germanic hordes who trampled Middle-Age Europe.

And Vlad is ALWAYS "Dracula" in popular mass conception. At one point in the Deathwind Trilogy, during a military planning meeting of the Vedunian rebels under Gonji, I have old wagoner Ignace Obradek break into senile exultation over how great it might be to have one-time protector Vlad the Impaler's help in freeing the territory from the invading sorcerous army.
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Lorraine Carey

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
What an interesting town! I need to add this on my bucket list! So much culture here.
The beauty is how you weave this into your novels.
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Better to stick with what we know :)
 
Always a smart move.

Joe Bonadonna via Google+

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 

Today on A Small Group of Authors, Erika M Szabo talks about growing up in the Hungarian town of Sarospatak, shows us some wonderful pictures illustrating the culture and history of the town, and provides us with a wonderful excerpt from her novel, "Cursed Bloodline."
https://asmallgangofauthors.blogspot.com/2017/07/my-hometown-sarospatak-ourauthorgang.html
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Thank you for sharing my post Joe :)
 
You're very welcome! Excellent post, too!

Joe Bonadonna

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
What a wonderful and lovely town you grew up in, Erika. So full of culture and history. I think Rick Steves, on his PBS series, "Rick Steves' Europe," visited Sarospatak. Now I have an even clearer understanding of your love for horses. Great excerpt from your novel, and I loved the video, too!
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I love the Rick Steves' series! But I missed the episode when he visited my hometown and it's not on his website. Maybe I can find it in the PBS archives. I bet he sampled some tasty food and the wedding pasties and cakes that the women of Sarospatak are famous for :)
 
I could be wrong about Steves' show. What triggered a memory was the pool where people go because it's good for their arthritis, and the horse pageantry. I know he's been to Hungary and that part of Europe. He's taken me to places I would never had heard of, otherwise. His tours are supposed to be excellent, if a bit expensive. We have Perillo Tours here in Chicago, which are very reasonably priced, but I think they only go to Italy and Sicily -- not even the Greek Islands!

Rick Haynes

1 year ago  -  Shared publicly
 
History is fascinating and your pictures, Erika, show some of your colourful heritage. I love the picture of The Rakoczi var's ground, what a place for children to run wild. Maybe that's where your vivid imagination came from?
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Enjoy some ancient music