Romanian research – Owls

European Barn Owl

Photo: By AllisonMiller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

When I started writing Lord Vayne, I had never stepped foot in Romania, where a bulk of the novel takes place. The only things I knew about the country I read in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. So, of course, I felt the need to do some research to get details right.

I researched flora, fauna and Geo-political history. And then, in 2005, I had the opportunity to visit the country for 10 days, which was really amazing. I took a lot of pictures, some of which are below. Click on the thumbnails to see the larger picture.

During this Web Serial Writing Month challenge, I thought I’d share some research tidbits in between posting chapters on Fridays.

For example, since Lord Vayne favors transforming into an owl, I wanted to make sure he turned into an owl that was indigenous to the region. I discovered there are two types of owls common in Romania: Tengmalm’s Owl (Aegolius funereus) — also called a Boreal Owl — and Little Owl (Athene noctua).

Male Boreal Owls range in size from 8 to 10 inches, while male Little Owls range in size from 8 to 9 inches. In my mind’s eye, I wanted Lord Vayne’s owl to be more like a Barn Owl, which ranges from 12.6 to 15.7 inches in length. So I dug deeper and found that there is one species of Barn Owl, Tyto alba in Romania and worked from there.

I like the face of the barn owl and believe it is quite easy to make it look sinister. The Boreal and Little owls were just too darn cute!

evil barn owl

See what I mean? Here is the photo posted above modified with “evil” red eyes.