Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway: The Impaler Legacy Omnibus by Ioana Visan

Published: March 2014


In a world crawling with vampires, Romania is the safest place left on earth. Thanks to the Little Council, there hasn't been a vampire on Romanian ground in over five centuries, until one day when Liana Cantacuzino is ordered to bring one in, covertly. 

Enter Maximilien Hess, a thousand-year-old vampire determined to ruin the existing order of things. When all is revealed, Hess's secret changes everything, and a reluctant alliance is formed because the alternative is much worse.

Thank you, Ioana Visan

Having in view the “Bram Stoker legacy”, how different expectations do you think the readers have from you as a Romanian author? 
I don’t think the readers have any particular expectations really. Romanian literature isn’t as widely known abroad as we might like. Their expectations are the same for any writer when it comes to vampire books. After they hear it’s not erotica and it’s not YA either, part of the readers will move along and look for something else to read. Those who stay, I expect them to be curious and open minded. Who knows, maybe they’ll like it. 

You use some names that send us directly to some big historical figures. There are some limits that cannot be ignored when the real historical data are changed? 
I believe one should not touch the past. It’s a proof of who we are and where we come from. Without it, we cannot learn from our mistakes and our successes. This being said, I did use in the book names that are well-known to all Romanians who ever opened a history book. The Cantacuzinos, the Sturdzas, the Ghicas, and the Basarabs are prominent historical figures. However, my characters are descendants of these important families, and those who read the book will discover that I did nothing to damage their reputations, on the contrary, the features they’re famous for were preserved. These are good people, brave, and loyal to their country and their code. 

One character that I did change is Vlad The Impaler. Thanks to Mr. Stoker, his character has been twisted in so many ways in so many books that he has become unrecognizable. So what I did was take what he was initially famous for—great strategic mind and leadership skills, sense of justice, and protector of freedom—and I placed him in a setting in which vampires did exist. From here to figuring out his next move was a simple step. He would have killed them all. 

Who and how are your vampires? But your pandurs? 
As if having one race of vampires wasn’t bad enough, there are two in the book. On one hand, we have regular vampires who live among humans in a semi-peace state, represented by the very old and rather charismatic Maximilien Hess. They’re basically humans with enhanced strength and dietary needs based on blood—nothing supernatural about it. On the other hand, there’s this new breed of feral vampires who are a threat to humans and vampires alike. 

Funny thing about pandurs, one reader who browsed the book thought they were tanks and couldn’t understand what they were doing inside an airport or a tent. Well, they’re not tanks. They’re based on the real pandurs that existed during the XVIIIth and XIXth century. There are several historical mentions, a military unit during the Habsburg Monarchy, militia established by Tudor Vladimirescu in Wallachia, and frontier guard infantry in Croatia. In my alternate reality, the pandurs are skilled fighters, trained to kill vampires with yatagans—that would be Turkish swords with short, curved blades for those who never heard of them. 

Why the novellas are needed in a series? 
The story was not supposed to be this long initially. I only had plans for a novella and then move to something else. But the readers—the few selected ones who read it before it was published—wanted to know what happened next. And it made me wonder. What did happen after that? How did Liana solve the new breed problem? And so I ended up with three novellas and three connecting short stories. It only took a year to get them all out, and I’m glad they’re now all collected in the omnibus edition. I hope the waiting wasn’t too long and frustrating. 

What a fantasy story must have and what a fantasy story should avoid? 
A fantasy story, any story for that matter, must be original. It needs to bring something new. It also needs to make sense—yes, even the fantasy stories. As for what to avoid, as a reader I would say cliffhangers, but several writers would probably throw rocks at me. Let’s say they should starts from the premise that their readers aren’t idiots. So, yes, they should be challenging and not put our brain to sleep. 


The barely hidden hostility didn’t go unnoticed. “You’re mad at me,” Max said.

“You knew we wouldn’t catch him.” Dropping the binoculars, I crossed my arms on my chest and gave him an accusing look. Herman had disappeared from the train somewhere in between Dunedin and Christchurch, and no one had noticed it happen.

“I suspected that,” he admitted with a small nod.

“You let us deploy our troops inside the city and wait for him!”

“Yes, that was highly unlikely … but it couldn’t hurt trying.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. Who was he taking me for? That would have happened only if Herman had been senile. Vampires didn’t survive this long by being predictable, not when they had an army after them.

“It was either that or have a bloodbath in the middle of the railway station, which would have ended with dozens of people being hurt,” he said. “I thought you’d appreciate my restraint.” A ghost of a smile twisted his lips, but his dark eyes stayed serious and thoughtful.

“Oh, please…” We had had plenty of pandurs and vampires on site to take down one guy, even if he was a-hundred-year-old vampire. If Max didn’t trust our pandurs to do the job, he should have let his people handle it. A thought struck me. “Is he this strong?” I breathed the words out.

Max looked away, avoiding my eyes. “We are this strong,” he said quietly.

The sharp intake of air made my chest hurt. We’d known they were stronger than most vampires out there due to their advanced age, but we had been in no position to test Max’s strength. The carnage he’d made at the farm during the siege hinted at that. It occurred to me that we had no chance against such creatures. He was alone against several others. Let vampires fight their stupid war, a small voice echoed inside my head. But I couldn’t do it. Their war, led in their terms, would end up with half of the world’s population dead. We couldn’t let that happen.

“What I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t get in the middle of this,” Max said, breaking the silence that had fallen between us. “When the time comes, I’ll deal with Herman … and the others.”

“Aren’t there others to join you?”

“Why, Miss Cantacuzino, one would think you cared,” he teased me.

“Well, of course I do. Why lose a useful tool that we could use another time too?” I replied in a similar manner.

He smiled, but once again it didn’t stay on for long and it was replaced by a frown. “There are few left, and no one is willing to take such risk,” he said. “We’re alone in this. I mean we can bring in more vampires if needed. We can convince them to fight the new breeds, but they won’t take on the leaders. They know they don’t stand a chance.”

“Do we?” I whispered.

The Impaler Legacy Omnibus, a vampire saga like no other, includes:

About the author:
Award-winning writer Ioana Visan has always dreamed about reaching the stars, but since she can't, she writes about it. 

After fighting the apocalypse aftermath in "Human Instincts", she played with shapeshifters in “Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks”, and then she dealt with vampires in “The Impaler Legacy” series, before tackling longer works like a fantasy trilogy and a science fiction series. 

Aside from publishing short stories in various Romanian magazines and anthologies, she published a short story collection "Efectul de nautil" and the Romanian edition of "Human Instincts".

She was awarded the Encouragement Award by The European Science Fiction Society at Eurocon 2013.

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