How would YOU describe this place?


Shouldn’t there be a feeling of elation when an author finishes a new manuscript? Certainly this event should be a moment preceded by great anticipation. There should be a party planned with balloons, confetti and champagne. More times than not though, finishing a manuscript is just the end of the first step, not the end of writing a story or a novel.

It was with a sigh of relief and the desire to go directly to bed that I closed my laptop computer last Saturday night, my creative juices squeezed dry, after I typed the last words of From the Rooftops. After sixteen months of research, travel and writing I should have been happy to be done. I should have run through the dark village streets shouting at the top of my voice,”It’s finished! I did it!” Unfortunately, whether you are a writer, a musician or a painter, you know its never done. Next week starts the rewrites, the editing and inevitably the self-loathing. I’d rather go to the dentist.


I am very aware of the weaknesses in my ‘finished’ manuscript. The lesser chapters and passages can be compared to a really bad hair cut; It takes time for it to grow out  again before you can reshape it, but its there every morning looking back at you, asking, “Really? Is that the best you could do?”


One of the biggest challengers I will have in the next few weeks is trying to describe this place: Castle Peles, in Sinaia, Romania. A novel rarely comes with full color illustrations. It would be cheating to insert parentheses into a sentence that read, “(look right–it looks like that)”.  This castle plays only a minor role in the story as a backdrop for a nervous meeting between conspirators, but presents the challenge to describe a fairy tale  setting that is completely ignored by the protagonists. This place is impossible to ignore!


Why choose this as a setting then if it creates such a challenge? Because the other visitors would never notice, let alone remember the faces of three character in a nervous, criminal conversation with each other. Here, one is completely anonymous. With everybody else around enthralled with the natural and constructed beauty, they are too distracted to notice anything or anybody else. (I will bet you didn’t even read the last few paragraphs, but just looked at the stunning photos…)



Castle Peles was built in the late nineteenth century for Romania’s new king, Carol I, a German (left). It was a broad  international project with thousands of craftsmen from every country and region of Europe. The interior is a celebration of the cultures that have influenced the Romanian experience over the centuries. Even the young Gustav Klimt painted many of the murals here. (below)


So, now that you’ve seen a sampling of Castle Peles, you can understand my dilemma and decision. How do you describe such a place like this that is NOT to be experienced by the narrator nor the characters?  How does an author sufficiently describe the distraction of others without taking anything away from the shocking dialogue that is going on right next to them?

If you have a word to describe this place, please help me out with a comment on the post and a LIKE to wish me luck as I begin the revisions and the rewriting next week of this exciting story.


Val Karren is the author of The Deceit of Riches, a conspiracy thriller novel set in Russia in 1995 available through You can read more about him on the About the Author page of this website. From the Rooftops is his second novel is expected to be published in the summer of 2019.

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