Monday, November 30, 2015

An Interview with Lucia Gorea Author of “The Impaler”

Who was the real Count Dracula? A bloodthirsty vampire? A medieval prince? A ruthless tyrant? Or a famous voivode who skillfully defended his land?

In 1442, on a somber morning in Wallachia, Vlad and his younger brother, Radu, bid farewell to their weeping, heartbroken mother. Their father has given them to Sultan Murad II, ruler of the Ottoman Empire, to prove his loyalty to the Turks.

One of the boys will adapt well to captivity. The other won’t…

The Impaler tells a gripping true story of passion, betrayal, resentment, and revenge—and an obsession to conquer and rule.

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Excerpt:

The prince invited them all to an extravagant feast, but they could have never guessed the cost...Vlad orders his servants and soldiers to board up the hall immediately. The beggars look at the vagrants, the sick ones look at the food, while the mothers look at their children, holding and squeezing their tiny hands. Then everyone turns their heads to their right to see many serv- ants bringing in large planks of wood and metal. They start boarding up the room under the terrified looks of the poor and sick. Ready to leave the great hall, some head toward the exit, but Vlad’s soldiers block their way. 
Others, the more pious ones, give thanks to the Lord for such a copious feast. They knock themselves over, trying to escape. They push each other and drop the food they hid in their sleeves or underneath their caftans. It falls to the floor. Now they know they are cornered. Wherever they look, they see soldiers and servants. They are nothing but a herd of cattle trapped within the gates of a stable when the storms and thunders hit the plains. Torches are brought in. Burning torches. 
Vlad still stands, unflinching. “You will never go hungry from now on. You will never suffer from hunger or thirst, from pain or aches. Your burdens will be lifted.”Startled beggars and horrified vagrants throw themselves on the floor and cover their heads.When Vlad nods, servants and soldiers set the hall on fire.

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I recently caught up with Lucia in Vancouver, BC, at UBC after her class and took her to the Flying Pig for drinks. We ordered maple-bourbon smashes and I asked her about the resent release of her debut novel, The Impaler:


1.     Your novel “The Impaler” was released by Black Opal Books this past October and tells the tale of Vlad, Prince of Wallachia—otherwise known as Count Dracula. Some will see this as another version of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula legend. Is there any similarity? What is the main difference in your story from the Dracula legend and how would you describe “The Impaler”? 
I believe the only similarity between the two versions is that both Bram Stoker and I based our novels on the same character, Count Dracula. We both placed our stories in medieval Transylvania and described the bloodthirsty prince through our own perception. 
The main difference between our novels is that Stoker associated Dracula with vampirism. He portrayed Vlad as a bloodthirsty vampire.  He based his novel solely on his imagination, creating an imaginary character. He has never set foot in Transylvania. 
My novel is based on facts. The events, names, places and characters in “The Impaler” accurately portray Transylvania and Wallachia of the Middle Ages during Vlad’s reign. I was born in Transylvania, visited Vlad’s castles, and studied this historical figure in school.

2.     What inspired you to write “The Impaler”?
The idea of writing a novel on the real prince Dracula, also known as “The Impaler,” came to me a long time ago, when I realized that he was wrongly perceived as a vampire and that very few people knew that a real historical figure existed behind the fantasy character.  I do remember vividly the moment I decided to tackle this subject. A few years ago, I was waiting in line at a grocery store in Portland, Oregon where I used to live. The clerk asked me where I was originally from, and when he learned that I was born in Transylvania, he asked me if that place really existed and if vampires lived there. I joked and told him that there were vampires in Transylvania and that I was one of them, to the bemusement of the other shoppers. He really believed me and said that he had never seen a vampire before. That was the moment I knew my mission was to inform people like him that Count Dracula really existed, that he was a real prince, and to inform readers about the significant role he had in the medieval history.

3.     I know you did a lot of research to assure historical accuracy. Can you tell us a little about that process? 
You are right, Nina. This historical thriller is based on extensive research that I conducted using chronicles, biographies, pamphlets and historical materials in both online and paper format. It was very important to me to convey the real story of Vlad Dracula, the prince of many faces, and to accurately portray this controversial historical figure during his reign in the Middle Ages.

4.     Vlad is painted with vivid detail—the nuances of his complex and paradoxical character flow with a chilling reality. What process did you use to achieve that?
I have always been fascinated by Vlad’s persona. I remember studying Vlad Dracula in my history class in high school. His powerful image haunted me through the years. I admired his strength and skills, and his ability to rule in a lawless country. I was appalled by the gruesome atrocities he committed. But were there any other ways to defend your land, your country and religion in the Middle Ages?
I used the present tense to depict Wallachia and Transylvania of the 15th century. This is because the scenes unfolded in front of my eyes, like a vivid movie with clear images, distinct voices, sounds and colors. I could hear the protagonists’ dialogues, I could feel their emotions, I could see their facial expressions, the clothes they were wearing, and the interiors of the medieval castles. I could sense their anger, or resentment, their love or hatred. In fact, I visualized everything. I felt I literally lived in the Middle Ages, and that I was part of the story.
It seemed that I was either the spectator at times, one of the protagonists, or the narrator. There were times when I could hardly remove myself from the scenes I depicted so passionately and get back to reality.
It has been by far the most thrilling and fascinating literary adventure I have ever experienced.

5.     You are an acclaimed poet and teach writing at UBC in Vancouver. Do you think that your poetry background had any affect on your prose writing for “The Impaler”? 
It surely did. My poetry background allowed me to get in touch with my inner feelings and perceive the protagonists’ emotions in depth. The use of metaphors, epithets, comparisons, and analogies in the novel gives the story a more realistic and humane aspect that the readers can easily identify with.
6.     Can you describe your writing process for completing this book? How long did it take to finish?
Writing this novel was an assiduous project and required extensive research. I first started by brainstorming ideas and gathering the information I needed about the places, characters, historical facts and events I was going to depict in the novel. I consulted many online and paperback chronicles and articles for accuracy and relevance to my story. I researched several books and catalogues at local libraries and learned about medieval life, food, clothing, literature, arts and culture, as well as social diversity. I also read about the Ottoman Empire and the role it had in medieval history. The next step was to create the outline—the skeleton of the story. Then I started building on what I had and developed, as accurately as I could, the life of the real Prince Dracula. It took me a little over two years to complete the book.

7.     Tell us a little bit about your current writing project.
I am currently working on a couple of projects. One is a fictional novel on dating and relationships, yes, that’s right, the new trend that millions of people around the world experience nowadays. It is entitled, “How I Met You Online.” The other project I am working on is a book for non-native college students, “100 ESL Board Games.” I’m also translating fairy tales and legends, as well as poetry from Romanian into English.

8.     Where can we find your other books?
My books can be found on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Kobo, Kindle, BlackOpalBooks.com, All Romance, Alibris.com, and other fine retailers where books are sold.

Thank you, Lucia!



Lucia Gorea is a Canadian poet and writer who has authored fourteen books, award-winning poems and articles. Some of her books include Welcome to America!, Journey Through My Soul, ESL Games and Classroom Activities, Yukon the Polar Bear, and Speak English for Success.
Originally from Transylvania, Romania, Gorea graduated from the University of Bucharest with degrees in English, French and Linguistics then earned her PhD in English and Education from Atlantic International University. She taught various post-secondary English and writing courses in the USA before settling in Vancouver, Canada, in 2005 to teach and write. Gorea founded Poetry Around the World, a multicultural reading series in Vancouver to help promote non-native poets and writers, and hosted radio and television poetry shows. Lucia Gorea is also a professional translator and was selected as keynote speaker at The 8th International Symposium on Translation, Interpretation, and Terminology in Havana, 2013. Gorea’s interest in history inspired The Impaler her debut novel.

Lucia Gorea lives in Vancouver, B.C. and teaches English at the University of British Columbia, Mosaic Language Centre, and Atlantic International University. She is currently writing her second novel. Visit www.luciagorea.com to find out more about her writing.

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