ISBN: 978-1-936332-10-6
ePub: 978-1-936332-11-3
330 pgs, trade paper, $15.95
BISAC: SEL018000 • OCC019000 • TRV010000




The Count, My Mother, and Me

Unfinished business can surface when we least expect it. It Started with Dracula is the inspiring story of two parallel journeys: one a carefully planned vacation and the other an astonishing and unexpected tour in repairing a wounded heart. –Charles Whitfield, MD, Bestselling author, Healing the Child Within


The terrifying legend of Count Dracula silently skulking through the Transylvania night may have terrified generations of filmgoers, but the tall, elegant vampire captivated and electrified a young Jane Congdon, igniting a dream to one day see his mysterious land of ancient castles and misty hollows.

Four decades later she finally takes her long-awaited trip—never dreaming that it would unearth decades-buried memories of life with an alcoholic mother, and trigger a life-changing inner journey. Unfolding in 18 days as she followed the footsteps of Dracula from Bucharest to the Carpathian Mountains and to the Black Sea, Dracula's legend becomes the prism through which she would revisit her childhood and finally lay claim to a happiness she had never known.

A memoir full of surprises, Jane's story is one of hope, love—and second chances.

An elegantly written and cleverly told real-life adventure story. An electrifying read.—Diane Bruno, CISION Media


"He was startlingly close to me now in the front seat, his eyes boring into mine. Suddenly I knew I’d seen too many Dracula movies. Nobody had to tell me what usually happened next in Transylvania!

There are places in our minds, vistas of the imagination where fantasy and reality come together. The landscapes of Romania were like that for me. I had imagined them so many times from the movies that there was a magic about the land. I’d never seen this country before, and yet I had. Layers of memory tied the Carpathians to the hills of West Virginia, my childhood, and the little movie theater where I first sat mesmerized by one Christopher Lee playing the most enduring character ever created: Count Dracula.

This story began on a moonlit night nearly fifty years ago, on the silver screen in a town nobody’d ever heard of. A swish of the cape, a bite to the neck, a full moon rising in the sky: Who knows the reasons for what we choose, or what chooses us?"


Thrilling! Dracula fans will love the movie references and devour the adventures of one of their own in Romania. —C. Dean Andersson, author, I Am Dracula

A touching memoir filled with hope, forgiveness, and the audacity to follow your dreams. In fact, Jane Congdon does a superb job of interweaving her dreams with her nightmares! —Bram Stoker Award-winning author and editor, Michael Knost

Stunning! An elegant memoir of discovery, of dark secrets dragged into the light. —Catherine Watson, Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel editor and author

I love this book for many reasons, but as an editor I especially appreciate the structure—the brilliant interweaving of stories and locations. This is a beautiful book.—Mary C. Noschang, Editor-in-Chief, Peter Li Education Group

As a Romanian who grew up in Transylvania, I was fascinated by this story and the idea that someone wanted so badly to see my country when I only wanted to leave it. We weren’t so different after all; both of us had to escape our own nightmares, and both of us followed our dreams. I loved the story and especially appreciated the intricate description of the beautiful Romanian countryside.—Aura Imbarus, author, Out of the Transylvania Night

This is a perfect book club selection! Our group had some great discussions about travel, relationships, and even the supernatural.—Karen Caldwell, Fabulous Book Babes, Mason, Ohio

Dracula is a brilliant metaphor for the author’s past as she confronts the dark forces that have shaped her life. Brilliant!—June Sarpong, MTV

I thoroughly enjoyed It Started with Dracula and plan to recommend it in the next issue of our newsletter, The Borgo Post.—Dr. Elizabeth Miller, President, Transylvanian Society of Dracula

This beautifully written memoir will speak to anyone who has ever:
   • Been separated from loved ones by more than time and distance    
   • Lived with addiction
   • Searched for her own long-lost child inside
   • Loves Dracula and vampires
   • Likes to travel—whether solo, armchair, or otherwise
   • Had to forgive a parent, a child—or herself
   • Searched for her own truth
   • Wanted to make things right while a parent was still alive
   • Had a dream that wouldn’t die
   • Is curious about Dracula, the myths, and Romania—the land of Dracula

Jane Congdon was a book editor for 30 years before retiring from one of the largest educational publishers in the world. She is a graduate of Concord University in Athens, West Virginia, a member of West Virginia Writers, and a veteran of writing workshops including the prestigious Split Rock Arts Program. She likes bats–and all things Dracula.


"Yes, it starts with Dracula, as Jane Congdon's title suggests, but the intriguing road leads the reader in many surprising directions. It's quite the emotional journey—and a most rewarding one, too." —Mark Dawidziak, Television Critic, Cleveland Plain Dealer