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The Dark Princess
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 True to the spirit of the original Dracula

Title: The Dark Princess

Author Donna J. Schmidt

Publisher: Publish America(March 2004)

Genre: Gothic/Romance/Fiction

ISBN: 1413713289

Paperback: 281 pages



Rating: Highly Recommended


April 17, 2004


The story begins with 15 year-old Cassandra; only daughter of Duke Eton is accompanied by her Irish-born maid named, Becca, who herself is but 10 years older. Together the trio journey's to Russia. Duke Eton having promised a virgin bride to his longtime friend Lord Davenport desires much more. Upon their arrival an agreement is struck and Duke Eton intent on having his way invades Cassandras bedchamber.


Cassandra struggles against both men when she is struck down unconscious. Simultaneously the door flies off its hinges! The shape of a man is visible in the darkness.


When Cassandra comes to, she soon discovers she is no longer at Lord Davenport's lavish estate, instead now resides within the walls of a castle called Dragon Bluff. To further amazement, she also learns that her savior and new benefactor is Prince Dimitri Donskey.


Time passes peacefully until the disappearance of a potential suitor, a horrifying event ensues, and a knife plunges into and fatally wounds Cassandra.


Given a choice between death and eternal life as one of the undead, Cassandra chooses the latter. Everlasting life and eternal youth, promised to her, a plot swirling of animal instincts combined with intellectual prose.


The tale becomes riveting as Cassandra confronts her father, the Duke after a number of years.


The Dark Princess is a strong, rich, and original piece of writing. The blend of the erotic and the horrific is true to the spirit of the original Dracula.


Vivid descriptions easily carry the reader, as I soon found myself traveling through another time dimension. It was a dimension of not only sight and sound, but of mind.


Someone please take the sign down, I do believe we found a new and improved Ann Rice! The author, Donna J. Schmidt has done a superb job of storytelling setup the radar, this is certainly one author to keep an eye on.


Reviewed by Betsie




An Interview with Donna J. Schmidt



To start this off, why don't you give an idea of what the book is about?


The Dark Princess is a paranormal romance novel about a young woman who is rescued from the horrendous life her father plans for her only to find her protector has a dark secret of his own.

     Dmitri Donskoy is a Russian Prince who falls in love with Cassandra the first moment he lays eyes on her as the ship she is riding pulls into port. After rescuing her from the fate her father had planned, Dmitri works with Cassandra to build up her self-esteem and trust in men. As he slowly introduces her to passion, she finds herself falling hopelessly in love with him.

     After an enemy of the prince attacks her, Dmitri has no choice but to tell her the secret he has been hiding. Now Cassandra must make a decision that will change her life forever. She must either accept a new way of life as a vampire or give up the man she loves.

     Following her heart, she agrees to become a vampire and with him by her side, she learns to cope with her new way of life. Together they face many challenges that threaten to destroy them and learn how to cope with what living for eternity really means.



Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life?


I was born the daughter of a sailor in the US Navy. With having to move every few years, I learned to make friends quickly but none of those friendships ever developed into a close and lasting relationship. Although I had an outgoing personality, I found my greatest pleasure in escaping to the exotic worlds found in romance novels.



Who were your earliest influences and why?


I don't think I ever had one specific author that I favored over another as long as the books were in the romance genre. The thought of finding the one man who was the other half of your soul intrigued me in childhood. The thought of living happily-ever-after is something that still moves me today.



What would a typical day be like for a writer?


I am sure I am not what one would consider a typical writer. I balance my time between working a full-time job as an agent in a national travel agency, writing my novels, researching my genealogy and spending time with my husband. Since my writing is so important to me, I devote at least three hours a day, seven days a week to writing and researching the material I need to make sure it is realistic. Even when we go on vacation, I spend time on my laptop writing.



How long have you been writing and in what capacities?


I have dabbled with writing stories ever since I was a small child but I never took it seriously until I retired from the Naval Service. Now that our son Josh has begun his own career in the Navy, I may find more time to devote to my writing.



Which is more difficult to write - Fiction or nonfiction and why?


I have never tried to write non-fiction so I don't know if I am the best person to answer this question. I know that with my writing, I expect the information I write to be accurate so I do a lot of research. It seems even the simplest concepts require research, for example: finding out how they actually made candles and soaps in the 13th century.



Has there ever been a time when you wanted to throw in the towel and give up? And if so, how did you defeat those instincts?


I guess I have been very lucky with the fact that I have never experienced writers block. With my genealogy research, I have no shortage of ideas for new stories. I usually start of by writing a rough outline of the story and then filling in the details. In my mind, I can picture my characters so well that I can almost smell the flowers they are cutting or hear the frogs croaking as they gaze at the lake.



What is the hardest part about being a writer?


Finding the time to work without interruption is probably the hardest part for me. Trying to balance the many facets of my life into a 24-hour day has been one of my greatest challenges.  I had a lot of support and encouragement from my husband and my family. Their belief in my talent and me helped sustain me when I faltered.



Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?


Actually my two favorite hobbies are genealogy and traveling. Both are very helpful with my writing. My research in genealogy not only gives me ideas for my stories but I learn about the people who lived in that particular era and location. My husband and I take one major vacation a year where we visit another part of the world. It is much easier to write about an area after you have viewed it personally. Breathing in the scent of heather as you gaze across the lush fields of Scotland is much easier to describe after you have experienced it.



Articles and media alike make it sound as though the only way to rise to the top is to sacrifice. What do you find to be good sacrifices?


With anything in life, there must be compromise. I don't know if I would go so far as to say I sacrifice anything. I would love to have more time to spend with my husband but we compromise by making each moment we do have together count.




What question do you get asked more than any other? 


By far, the most often asked question is "how did you finish the book?" My answer is that I believed I could write a novel as good as the ones I have read. The key is to keep writing. Don't worry about how you will get published or if someone doesn't like it. Just take it one step at a time and you will be surprised at what you can accomplish. Worrying about what publisher will accept you when you only have the first chapter written makes the task seem insurmountable and then you end up with nothing. I guess the second most asked question is "will you write a sequel?" The answer is yes, but not for a while. I have too many other characters running through my thoughts. It is time to let Cassandra and Dmitri sleep while I visit other locations and adventures.



Whats the coolest thing a reader has said to you?


I had one of my friends compare my heroine Cassandra to myself. She said that she saw a lot of my strengths and determination in her. I never really considered this before but would love to think that I really am as strong as Cassandra is.



What has been your feedback from readers? What do they say to you about their interpretations of your book?


Again, I think I have been very lucky in that I have only heard positive responses to my book. I think the greatest praise I received is when I have been told that they actually felt as if they had been there with Cassandra as she faced the challenges life threw at her. To have someone be so emotionally involved with my characters that they cried with happiness when Cassandra's mother married the man she loved or that they could not put down the book until they were certain that Cassandra survived an encounter she faced.



Do you think that as a writer you are more prone to watching what goes on around you and observing behaviors than most people are?


I think it is my ability to see what goes on around me and to observe people's behavior that makes me a better writer. Since I was a child I have been blessed with the ability to describe the sights, sounds and smells so well that a person could almost feel as if they had been there. I think that ability is what makes the difference in one writer over another.



Who are some of the authors you consider to be "don't miss"?


Until recently my book-shelves have been filled with authors such as Bertrice Small, Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Jude Deveraux and Kinley MacGregor to name a few. But now I am also an avid Harry Potter fan so I must also include J.K. Rowling.




If one were looking to start his/her own career as a writer, what would you suggest his/her first step to be?


The first step is to see what it is you want to write about. If your character is on a ship, you must be able to feel the sting of the wind, smell the salty air, and hear the gulls calling as they dive for their next meal. And then you must "write".  Put your ideas on paper no matter how illogical or silly they may seem. You can always edit it later. The important part is to get it written down.



What kind of movies do you enjoy?


I mostly enjoy family movies. Some of the new releases I have added to my library are Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean, and did I mention Harry Potter?


Potter? Several times, but hey we don't mind!



What is your favorite city to visit, but one that you wouldnt want to live in? 


Munich Germany. I love the architecture of the buildings, the colorful flowers hanging beneath the windows of houses. The clean streets and friendly people are a joy. The countryside is breath taking. Of course, the Oktoberfest is an experience that I will never forget. Every couple of years, we take a trip to Europe and Munich is always one of the places we stay.



Whats the strangest question youve ever been asked in an interview?


Since this is my very first interview, I don't think I have one yet. 



Whats the best part of being a writer?


I would have to say the pride in seeing my characters coming to life.  To laugh along with them or cry as they face the trauma in their life.



What's next?


I am going to write. I have already begun a book that takes place in 18th century Scotland. Although I know the basic outline of the story, I cannot wait to experience how Maggie struggles through to find the man who is the other half of her soul.



Betsie's Literary Page has had a woderful time inquiring into Ms. Schmidt's life and we hope you enjoyed it as well. BLP would like to wish this author much success now, and always!