I know you have shunned comparisons between your book and "The Da Vinci Code." But I wonder if you think there might be a similar backlash to your book, with Christians taking issue with some of the Christian history in your book, or with the idea that Christian monks helped Dracula?
I suppose that's possible. It would be blind on anyone's part to assert that religious leaders didn't help some terribly tyrannical bloodthirsty medieval leaders. The connection between the church and violent politics has a record throughout the middle ages. So that would have to be a pretty major revision of history if there were any backlash against that [part of the book].

I think one of the differences between the story I've written and "The Da Vinci Code," is that, at least as I understand it--I don't want to attempt to paraphrase another writer's beliefs--, is that Dan Brown appears to believe that he has evidence for the union of Mary Magdalene and Jesus. And I don't believe that Dracula was a vampire. I certainly believe, like many serious historians, that Dracula was a historical figure. There's a concrete, contemporary medieval record of many of his deeds, and I was just using that record as it stands and adding to it this much later supernatural legend that was created by a Victorian writer.

I haven't really made any religious assertions in the book. But I do see the book as something of a plea for tolerance rather than religiously inspired intolerance or violence. That's why it was very important to me to have the balance of the Ottoman perspective and the Western Christian perspective. I had an interesting experience. One magazine that wanted to take photographs of me to go with an interview had ideas for creative photographs. One of the ideas that I actually rejected was to photograph me holding an old crucifix. One of the reasons I didn't want to do it was that was too loaded a symbol. I didn't want to deal with possible interpretations of this --either offense or the feeling that I was allying myself with the Christian symbolism in the book. But I also felt that it would be an injustice to the Muslim characters in the book.

My hope is that the book gives some sense that history is some strange artifact and that it is a matter of perspective. We have to look at it from many points of view in order to even begin to understand it.

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