|St. Wenceslas and his page (as described in the Christmas carol)|
I got the idea from the story of St. Wencelaus, who's the patron saint of Bohemia. I stumbled across this fantastic legend surrounding Blanik and the sleeping knights who're supposed to awaken and defend the region from threats at St. Wenceslaus's command.
A second enduring legend claims an army of knights sleeps under Blaník, a mountain in the Czech Republic. They will awake and, under the command of St. Wenceslaus, bring aid to the Czech people in their ultimate danger. There is a similar legend in Prague which says that when the Motherland is in danger or in its darkest times and close to ruin, the equestrian statue of King Wenceslaus in Wenceslaus Square will come to life, raise the army sleeping in Blaník, and upon crossing the Charles Bridge his horse will stumble and trip over a stone, revealing the legendary sword of Bruncvík. With this sword, King Wenceslaus will slay all the enemies of the Czechs, bringing peace and prosperity to the land.
I absolutely love the idea of sleeping knights waiting to be called by the saint. In the novel, I also referred to St. Wenceslaus as a warrior king or warrior saint though he was actually the Duke of Bohemia in order to hew closely to legend and religion (the Catholic motifs, especially).
|Art by Věnceslav Černý, 1898|
What I did was merge the darker (i.e., more gothic-inspired) elements of the Carpathian Mountains with the legend of the Blanik knights and came up with guardian wolves who shapeshift whenever they go abroad and physically defend the town of St. Jude (and surrounding towns in Bohemia).
There's a scene in the book where Arthur hears the wolves "awaken" as they howl in the mountains, and their lupine calls gradually turn into human cries of rage. It's a short scene, but I really dig the idea and ran with it. *preens*
All the other places in the novel (and the Curiosities series, really) are named after saints, largely patron saints of the countries the characters hail from. And all of them are also idenfitied in their native tongue. St. Genevieve, for instance, is always referred to as Sainte Genevieve (French), etc.
|St. Judas Thaddeus|
That is, all except for St. Jude, which remains English. I specifically used that name because I wanted the town to be Ground Zero for most of the stories in the series, and as a bit of background info, St. Jude (Judas Thaddeus) is the patron saint of lost causes. I wanted at first to use his name for the orphanage where Arthur and Jane spend their childhood years, but I figured it was better to stick to the town's name and give the orphanage a more appropriate name: St. Jerome (Gerolamo Emiliani, the patron saint of orphans).
The Curiosities series is all about cursed wishes, hence the focus on lost causes. It's a pretty cynical and negative take on wishes, but I set out to write a gothic horror series about desperately wanting something and having one's desire granted but also twisted as a means of claiming one's soul. So, yes, wishes are lost causes since the wisher becomes the victim.
|Castle Stalker, Scotland|
And as a final tidbit, the model for Hantise is Castle Stalker in Scotland. I love the look of the tidal islet and the creepy isolation of the place (though, really, one can access it via a causeway and by boat). I made the islet in the novel a larger one, so there's room for a forgotten graveyard in one end of the place.
But at the same time, it's too unforgiving in terrain that the stables as well as the groom and coach driver are all situated just off the lake shore. It's just my way of making the tower house as dangerously removed from all civilization as possible, which plays a huge part in its history and how events unfold when new residents move in.