Join Sarah and her guests for conversations on everything from the art of writing to where we find our inspiration.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Writer Wednesday with Zrinka Jelic

Thank you for hosting me on your blog. It’s always exciting to connect with new readers.

There’s an old saying that goes “Write about what you know.” I’m from Croatia and I know about my country and its neighbouring countries that were once all part of former Yugoslavia. Therefore, you’ll find something about Croatia in each of my books.

At one time only well-travelled people like let’s say reporters, could write convincing stories about foreign to them cultures and landscapes, or cities and places. Now all the information is at our fingertips. With just a click of the mouse, we can be taken to the most remote places of this planet. Virtually of course, but it is still next best thing when we don’t have the luxury to travel there personally.

With the popularity of vampires and shape shifters, many new authors seem to want to try themselves in the paranormal genre. Perhaps it is the origin of the word vampire that is bringing their research to Slavic countries. Dictionary.com says this for the word’s origin:

1725–35; (< F) < German Vampir < Serbo-Croatian vàmpīr, alteration of earlier upir (by confusion with doublets such as vȁzdūh, ȕzdūh air (< Slavic vŭ- ), and with intrusive nasal, as in dùbrava, dumbrȁva grove); akin to Czech upír, Polish upiór, Old Russian upyrĭ, upirĭ, ( Russian upýrʾ ) < Slavic *u-pirĭ or *ǫ-pirĭ, probably a deverbal compound with *per- fly, rush (literal meaning variously interpreted) 

And as a result, I’m seeing more books out there on Serbian and/or Croatian vampires and werewolves. I read a few and it is apparent that the authors are not from either county, nor do they have any connection to them, and unfortunately neither did they do their research. As a result, the books have Slavic words in them that are used in a wrong context, the landscape is not described in any way other than “Serbian mountains”, which tells us nothing really, the names of the characters are incorrect, the historical facts such as epic battles and wars, are messed up, and many readers, especially those from these countries are not impressed.

A few things to consider when writing about other cultures: no matter what genre you write, do your research, and especially if writing paranormal. Find out if the population (in general) like this whole paranormal thing? Especially when mixed with love or erotic elements. Many countries like Croatia where 99% of people are devout Roman Catholics see erotica as porn. Every nation seems to have some sort of vampire legend and they have different names for them, but some would like to keep them in their folklore and not make a big deal out of it. So if you come across a legend and get hit with a story of your own that you want to base on that particular folk tale, research it. Friend someone from that country (on Facebook or other social media), dig out anything you can. Sprinkling foreign words throughout the manuscript will add the flavour but, don’t rely on Google translator. The worse thing that could happen is someone will check your facts or someone will know them, and bad reviews will follow. And if after all your efforts the best you can come up with is some vague facts, then do not reference it to that legend (don’t use names and locations from the legend), keep it vague as well and see if the readers will find the similarities.

Bio: Zrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children. A member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter Fantasy Futuristic &Paranormal, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction—which leans toward the paranormal—and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic’s love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that’s about the only break they get. “Alas,” Jelic says, with a grin. “Some rain must fall in everyone’s life.”

My blog; http://bondedbycrimson.blogspot.ca/

The last thing Captain Sirena expected to find on a desolate island was...him!

When Carmen Ventura takes up her post as commander of the Strega, she becomes the new Captain Sirena, the legendary pirate most people think is just a myth created to scare children. Her first quest is to search for the “treasured chest” hidden by her predecessor. But before she can even begin the hunt, she runs into Marko Lucin, captain of the Levant and Carmen’s most insane adventure yet.

How can the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen be a bloody pirate?

Never one to pass up an adventure, especially where pretty women are concerned, Marko finds his ultimate challenge in Carmen. Not only does he fall for her courage, spunk, and intelligence, but the lady pirate can also help him get what he wants—the famous treasure everyone whispers about. His only problem—how long can he play the charming captain before she discovers his true intentions?

Available now at:


  1. Interesting post Zrinka. It's all about research, research and more research. It's annoying when you read something about your culture or country that isn't true.

    1. Thanks Nana. Yes, it can be frustrating when you read and makes you go come on, at the very least check the facts out. I don't know why a new authors think they can write about the small Balkan countries and write whatever, someone will know and will bother to check out what they wrote.

    2. Great post, Zrinka. I love research, it's one of my favorite things about writing. Like you, I stick to writing about, Italian heritage, NY, CT, etc., what I know. I do have a brief Albanian vampire story in Solstice. They call their Vampires Lugat and they are quite laid back and easy going compared to other vampires. I checked and double checked, so I hope I got it right. My daughter has a friend, Egzon, from Albania (he moved here when was 2) and he didn't know anything about it, but he's a 17 yr old boy who grew up here ;)

    3. That's interesting Debbie. I don't know of any vampire story originating in Croatian folklore. There are however stories of giants and witches and other creatures like mermaids and/or mysterious apparitions haunting the ancient walls of their castles where they were tragically killed.