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.
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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