Hi everyone! YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy Addicts is so excited to be a a part of the book tour for Heart of the Impaler by Alexander Delacroix. Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for hosting and Alexander for answering all of our burning questions. In this interview, we talk everything from 15th century Romanian swords to exciting details about his new book :)
Blurb for Heart of the Impaler
Alexander Delacroix’s darkly romantic debut Heart of the Impaler is perfect for fans of Kiersten White’s And I Darken.
Vlad Dracula has long lived in the shadows cast by his bloodthirsty father, the voivode, and his older brother, Mircea. Despite their cruelty, Vlad has yearned to prove himself worthy of the throne his whole life. In the cold halls of the voivode’s palace, Vlad can only rely on his cousin and closest friend, Andrei Musat.
When Vlad and Andrei meet Ilona Csáki, the daughter of an influential boyar, they each find themselves inextricably drawn to her. But then Ilona is betrothed to Mircea as part of a political alliance, and Vlad’s resentfulness of his brother begins to seethe into something far darker.
Ilona has no desire to marry the voivode’s eldest son, but love and marriage are the least of her worries. The royal family’s enemies have already tried to put an arrow through her back—and if anyone discovers her blossoming feelings for Andrei and Vlad, she may just wish they’d succeeded.
Beneath the shadow of impending war, the only battle that will be deadlier than the one for Ilona’s life will be the one for her heart.
Interview with Alexander Delacroix
What inspired you to write Heart of the Impaler?
I’ve been a writer since elementary school and I’ve been interested in Romania since I was a teenager. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the two interests collided. The life and times of Vlad the Impaler have interested me for years, making it a topic I was motivated to research and write about. At first I toyed with the idea of throwing vampire elements into the plot, but eventually decided to approach the story from a purely historical angle. This leads me to the answer to the next question.
Who is this book for?
This book is written for readers who like romance mixed with history. Many of the characters are based on actual historical people, but the fictional characters are tied into real 15th century families. I think readers who like to experience different times and places through a book will be drawn to this novel.
What age group do you teach? Were you able to share the story with any of your students?
I’m still an educator, but I’m no longer a classroom teacher. Heart of the Impaler was written while I was teaching junior high language arts, but I was too self-conscious about my writing to share it with my students. There were times, however, when I shared facts about Vlad the Impaler, and many of my students were fascinated by him. I hope they’ll find this novel equally fascinating.
How much research went into the historical context for this book?
I put A LOT of research into Heart of the Impaler. Someone once told me it’s easy to write historical fiction because the world building and plot have already been created for you. I strongly disagree with that assumption. It takes a great deal of careful research to recreate the past for a modern audience, and 90% or more of that research never even makes it into the story. My goal as a writer of historical fiction is to provide my readers with the most authentic experience possible. Even after this novel was “finished,” it wasn’t yet finished. My amazing copy editor, Linda, carefully fact-checked the manuscript and this, in turn, led to more research. Some artistic license has to be taken when writing a historical novel, but I always do everything I can to stay as true to the time period as possible.
What would be the best thing about living in 15th century Romania? What would be the worst thing?
The best thing about living in 15th century Romania would be swords. I’ve always liked martial arts and would enjoy learning how to defend myself with a sabre. But, seriously, I don’t think I’d be too thrilled about living in 15th century Romania. Life at that time — whether you were a peasant, a boyar, or a prince — was fraught with peril. Death was one unexpected sickness, broken treaty, or scheming relative away. I might be interested in popping in for a quick visit — Dinner with Boyar Racovita’s family maybe? — but I’d have no interest in a long-term stay.
What was your most recent YA read?
I’m currently rereading Renegades by Marissa Meyers but this time in German instead of English. It’s a great read in both languages!
Which character in the story do you most relate to?
In Heart of the Impaler, I most relate to Andrei because many of his personality traits are similar to the ones I struggled with as a teenager. Like him I was painfully shy, lacked self-confidence, and never quite felt like I fit in. Unlike him, I wouldn’t be as patient with Vlad’s shenanigans!
Will there be a sequel, or is Heart of the Impaler a standalone?
Heart of the Impaler was acquired as a standalone, but I have ideas for a sequel if that opportunity ever comes. There’s a lot more to Vlad the Impaler’s story, and I think readers would be surprised by the character development and unexpected turn of events that would happen in that hypothetical sequel.
You have a beautiful book cover. Who designed it?
Kathleen Breitenfeld designed Heart of the Impaler’s cover, and I think she should win an award for it. It’s stunning! Everything from the contrast between light and dark to the forbidding images hints at the danger and beauty of 15th century Wallachia. When my editor, Emily, sent me an image to see how I liked it, I instantly knew it was the perfect cover. It was so much better than anything I could have imagined. I couldn’t stop looking at it.
About the Author
Alexander Delacroix earned Masters degrees from Brigham Young University and Western Governors University. As an undergraduate he majored in French, Russian, and German but ultimately became a Language Arts teacher. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing. Heart of the Impaler is his debut novel.