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Elizabeth Kostova's fist novel, "The Historian," took her 10 years to write. When she was a child, she spent a year in Slovenia, traveling with her family throughout Europe. The tales of vampires that her father told her inspired the book. Kostova says she does not believe in vampires but she does belive that myths have very powerful effects on the human psyche. After graduating from Yale in 1988, she began postgraduate work in Slavonic music, which led her to Bulgaria, where she met the man who was to become her husband. Thus, much of "The Historian" is set in that Eastern European nation. For her current novel, "The Swan Thieves" (Little Brown), she drew on her background in art. An attack on a painting in Washington's National Gallery of Art sets the novel in motion. Elizabeth Kostova lives in Michigan.