May 28, 2010

What You Didn't Know About Hungary and THE HUNGARIAN

Please welcome my friend and guest, Stephanie Burkhart, former military vet and world traveler. Comment to win a beautiful postcard!

Dani, thanks so much for having me. I'm very excited to be here today and I'm looking forward to talking about my time in the military and my latest release, my paranormal romance, "The Hungarian."

I discovered my love for Hungary when I was deployed to the Taszur Air Base near Kaposvar in 1997 for Operation Joint Guard. Taszur, was a staging base that the military used to process troops in and out of the Bosnian theatre. It was used because it had an airfield large enough to support the really big aircraft such as civilian Boeing 747's and military C-5 Galaxy planes. It was close to the theatre of operations as well.

Before the Americans Taszur was a Soviet Air Base in Hungary and there was still proud remains of that past. In front of the main admin building, there were four Mig airplanes from the oldest model to the newest. In the Rec Center, which was off base, there were a series of photos starting in the 1950's up until the time the Soviets left in the early 1990's.

For Taszur, Hungary, and the Americans, the air base was important. The Hungarians wanted to embrace the Western way of life now that the Soviets were gone and the Americans wanted a foothold to use.

The Hungarians were the owners of the air base and had leased it to us when I was there in 1997. I found it sad they had only two Migs and both were in such disrepair they couldn't fly.

Taszur itself was a rural town and in the middle of the old Soviet civilian housing was a monument to the Hungarian World War I veterans. Kaposvar was the nearest big city. I would say it was medium sized. There were bars and night clubs and it was a nice place to visit. The middle of town had a pedestrian area with cobblestones. Only walkers, no cars, were allowed.

My job was the base physical security NCO and I checked the base for physical security measures.

On my off time I worked out at the gym, read, watched videos and took rec trips all over Hungary.

One led me to Budapest.

The trip was sponsored by the USO and it was a three day weekend in Budapest. I stayed at a hotel on Margaret Island, which was between Buda and Pest in the Danube River. The room was small, but affordable.

Buda and Pest used to be two distinct cities until they merged to become Budapest. Buda was on the hill overlooking the Danube which the castle district was in. Landmarks in Buda include the king's castle, St. Matthias church and Fisherman's Bastian. St. Matthias church was were the kings of Hungary were crowned. Hungary is mostly a Catholic nation, but the Muslim and Orthodox religions were also represented in the country. Fisherman's Bastian was finished in 1902 and was a ½ mile wall at the entrance to the castle district. There are 7 towers representing the 7 Magyar tribes. The Széchenyi Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges built. It was constructed in the 1840's and connects Buda to Pest as it sprawls over the Danube.

Landmarks in Pest include the Parliament building, the train station, downtown pedestrian area, and opera house.

Hungarians were friendly people and most spoke English which was nice because I hardly understood Hungarian. Our translators were very accommodating and eager to help us with the language. It has Russian-Finish roots though, which makes it a challenging language to acquire. Szia means hello and Zarva means closed, as in closed for business. That's all I can really remember.

I saw all the major attractions in Budapest, falling in love with the city. It's presence and the friendly Hungarian people resonated with me throughout the years. When I was in the plotting and research stage of "The Hungarian," turning to Hungary for my setting seemed perfect. It offered the unique blend of modernization and old world myths that my hero, Matthias, is caught between.

The Blurb:

Katherine Archibald is in search of a grand adventure. A young woman in late Victorian England, she wants to open up a book store in London and travel Europe hunting down rare books. Love isn't on her map.

Enter Matthias Duma. The Hungarian count captures Katherine's attention like no other man before him with his unusual gold-malachite eyes, his exotic features, and his command of the night sky.

After a night of intrigue during Katherine's birthday, she discovers the map does include love in the legend, but will the map lead her to Budapest and the dark, brooding Hungarian she's just met?


"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.

Goodie Time: I'll be giving away two autographed postcards of the cover to two lucky posters. To be eligible to win, just post. I'll pick the winners out of a hat and announce the winners on the blog no later than the next day.

Link to the Book Trailer:

Links for the Books:

Desert Breeze Website:

All Romance eBooks

Amazon for Kindle

Sony Ebooks

Visit Stephanie at:


Romance Under the Moonlight Blog




Tina Pinson said...

Learn something new all the time. I didn't realize Buda and Pest were their own cities at one point. But of course, I haven't ever studied the area. I bet it was interesting to live there. I think living overseas is quite the experience.

Good interview, liked the blurb.

StephB said...

Thanks, Tina. Hungary has such a rich history. It was interesting to learn about it.


Celia Yeary said...

Hi, Steph and Danielle--fascinating stuff. I wish we could have spent more time there, but we were onone of those tours and had to go where the bus did. All European cities have their own certain flair, but Budapest had a magical, almost orther-worldly feel and flavor. Makes for an excellent choice for the setting of the "Hungarian." Celia

Kathy said...

Fascinating history Stephanie. Unfortunately when we were in Germany was in the 1970's and the Soviets were a prescence to worry over. My husband had a high security clearance therefore our travels were limited but back then we just hopped on a train and took off no worries over passports and such. Our Military ID Cards were our passports. Of course much different now but I always wanted to return to Europe and take my time to see the world so to speak.

Liana at said...

Did you take the name Matthias from the St. Matthias church? Thanks for sharing this story, Steph. Wonderful inspiration for your book!

Morgan Mandel said...

Fascinating. I never knew about Buda and Pest either.

Morgan Mandel

Diane Craver said...

Great information, Steph! I've never been to Europe and probably never will (I'd love to though) so it's fun to learn about Hungary thru your eyes. Thanks so much for sharing.

You've led an interesting life! I'm glad you were able to use your rich experiences in your book, The Hungarian.

StephB said...

*waves* Hi to all.

Kathy, yes, I remember when I was there in the late 1980's, we still worried about the Soviets. I remember that all I needed was leave papers and my military ID to travel. I still needed FLAG orders to go Berlin, but they did away with them by 1996.

Liana, I picked Matthias because I knew it was a good strong, Hungarian name. As I did my reserach, I learned more about the St. Matthias church and it's rich history.

Goodie Time -
Congrats to Tina Pinson and Kathy for winning my autographed postcards. Please send me an email with your snail mails and I'll get those postcards out to you.


Danielle Thorne said...

Congrats to Tina and Kathy. And thanks to all our visitors and Steph for her smart blog post!