The Curse Giver by Dora Machado: Character Interview and Excerpt
Interview: Jalenia, from The Curse Giver,
a fantasy novel by Dora Machado.
thrilled to have Jalenia visiting with us today. She is the main villain from
Dora Machado's new fantasy romance, The
Curse Giver. Jalenia is an ageless curse giver who usually keeps her name
and whereabouts secret. She's very mysterious, so don't expect to learn a lot
from her. And beware: Whatever you do, don't try to mess with her. You don't
really want the curse giver to turn her attention to you!
Let's begin. Hi, Jalenia. It is a pleasure to have you with
us at Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews.
Thank you, Laurie, I think. I don't
do interviews often. More like never. But you seem like an interesting
character yourself and I'm currently looking for work. Who knows? Maybe you or
one of your readers needs a curse cast?
well, no, not really, no thank you. I don't think any of us need a curse cast. In
fact I'm absolutely sure, so let's just get on with the interview, shall we? Do
you feel you were fairly portrayed in The
Fairly portrayed? Ha! I don't think
so. Creatures like us are never fairly portrayed. We are secretive, devious and
mysterious by nature. We don't like the spotlight. We believe in wickedness
over goodness. We enjoy doing evil. We have to cast curses to exist, and yet
people fear us because we do our job so well. Face it, villains never get fair
you feel the author did a good job with your character?If not, how would you like to have been
I'm afraid she might have painted me
weak on a couple of occasions, but overall, I think Dora didn't mince words. I
mean, I like being evil, and she got that, oh, yes, she wrote me just the way I
am. She didn't make excuses for me. She didn't make me good, or friendly, or
even caring, thank the gods. So what if the readers may loathe me? So what if I
cursed the Lord of Laonia?
Face it. The Lord of Laonia's father
deserved to be cursed. He and his entire line deserved to suffer, all the way
to the last of his sons, Bren, whose story is told in The Curse Giver. He was a fighter, that one. He wasn't willing to
lay down his sword and wait for my curse to kill him like any reasonable man
might have done. His sense of duty was as impressive as his endurance. I really
enjoyed stringing him along. He waged a good fight. You must understand, I
relish what I do and I enjoy a worthy opponent every so often. Heroes like Bren
are hard to come by in my business. Fear usually neutralizes the cursed. Not
Bren. He refused to be neutralized. He made it interesting for me.
As to that remedy mixer, Lusielle,
well, she had it coming. She thought maybe she was going to be able to defeat
me with her potions, to heal the curse from the very man who was trying to kill
her in order to survive and save his people from destruction. Little did she
know about how foul and terrible her death would be in the hands of the man she
tried to heal. Little did she know about the terrible secret that the Lord of
Laonia kept from her until the very end.
is your strongest trait?
I'm powerful, more powerful than any
other curse giver that has ever existed. I've got good blood lines, excellent
training, and I've lived a long time, which means I have the skills and
expertise to cast a virulent curse. I can command the elements, travel swiftly
through astonishing means, change my appearance almost at will, and kill the
strongest man with but a twist of my wrist. I'm persistent, oh yes, tenacious
like the Goddess herself. And I'm a planner. My curses are impregnable,
carefully crafted to address contingencies, anticipate disruptions, and ensure
my victim's demise. Finally, I'm merciless, selfish and wicked beyond
redemption. These are the traits that make me the most powerful curse giver in
I don't have a worst trait. I
consider myself the perfect curse giver. Shudder when you hear my name.
you have a love interest in the book?
Love? Yuck. There's enough of that
from Bren and Lusielle in the story. Those two fought off the forbidden
attraction growing between them almost as hard as they fought their enemies and
me. They were so different from each other. I never understood. What did
Lusielle see in that bitter, wretched, cursed lord?
Lusielle was a powerful healer, I
understand that, but why would she want to heal the very man who was destined
to kill her? I mean, what kind of madness fuels that type of compassion? I
never did figure all of that out.
If you ask me, love is a pretty
disgusting ailment. It makes the heart weak and the mind feeble. Lust, on the
other hand, is a bit more interesting, something that perhaps I might consider
to ease my boredom from time to time. There's this creature that I had to work
closely with there at the end the story, a traveler of the dark realms like
myself, a soul chaser who claims the souls of the cursed when I'm done with
them. To satisfy a fit of lust, he wouldn't be bad. But love? Please.
what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going
to turn out?
Nervous? Me? Ha.
I'll admit that Lusielle gave me a
few surprises along the way. She ended up being stronger, more skilled and
resilient than I had anticipated. Perhaps I should have taken care of her early
on, when I killed—well, I can't really tell you what I did, can I? Lusielle's
wits turned out to be more impressive than most.
As to Bren, Lord of Laonia, he was
all brawn, wrath and desperation, easy to tease, mock and mislead, until he
found Lusielle and, together, they tried to defeat my curse. Fools. She gave
him hope. Hope is another disgusting emotion, a dangerous delusion. Have I told
you how much I relish tearing people's hopes to shreds? It's extraordinarily
fun. You ought to try it sometime.
well, no thank you, shredding hope is not really my thing. Moving on: If you
had to trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which
character would you really not want to be and why?
I wouldn't want to be Brennus, Lord
of Laonia, because if I were him, I wouldn't have him to torture, would I?
Also, I treasured the man's hatred for me. Loathing, hatred and revulsion are
thrilling, satisfying emotions worth living for. I cherished the Lord of Laonia
as my enemy because he refused to forget and forgive. He knew that I was
dangerous and would always remain so. He was a creature after my own heart and
I will forever relish the scent of his scarred soul.
do you feel about the ending of the book, without giving too much away?
and damned are the souls of the cursed. Useless are their struggles.I'm the curse giver
and you, you will always be my prey.
words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book
with you in it?
Embrace the wickedness within and
you will find me; relish it and you will understand me.
you for this interview, curse giver Jalenia.Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
Perhaps if The Soul Chaser has a story to tell, I'll be in it, for cursed
souls rarely live for long and the soul chaser must come.
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy,
Romantic Fantasy, Fantasy Romance, Dark Fantasy
Lusielle's bleak but orderly life
as a remedy mixer is shattered when her husband betrays her and she is
sentenced to die for a crime she didn't commit. She's on the pyre, about to be
burned, when a stranger breaks through the crowd and rescues her from the
Brennus, Lord of Laonia is the
last of his line. He is caught in the grip of a mysterious curse that has
murdered his kin, doomed his people and embittered his life. To defeat the
curse, he must hunt a birthmark and kill the woman who bears it in the foulest
of ways. Lusielle bears such a mark.
Stalked by intrigue and
confounded by the forbidden passion flaring between them, predator and prey
must come together to defeat not only the vile curse, but also the curse giver
who has already conjured their ends.
stared at Lusielle from the depths of the rowdy crowd. Concealed under a heavy
hood, only the stranger’s black eyes dared to meet her gaze among the growing
throng. The man’s eyes refused to flinch or shift from her face. His stare was
free of the hatred she had gotten from the others, but also devoid of mercy. He
held on to her gaze like an anchor to her soul, testing her fortitude, knowing full
well her fears’ vast range.
She had always been meant for the fire. Even as she
had escaped the blaze that killed her parents and burned the inn to the ground,
Lusielle had known that the flame’s greedy god would return to claim her life.
But she hadn’t expected it to happen after days of torture, surrounded by the
raging mob, found guilty of a crime she didn’t commit, betrayed and condemned.
The town’s cobbler, one of her husband’s best
customers, tightened the noose around her neck until it cut off her breath. She
had waited on him countless times at the shop, and had always padded his order
with a free measure of coriander to help with his wife’s cough.
But none of the town’s inhabitants seemed to
remember any of her kindnesses as of late. On the contrary, the crowd was
booing and jeering when they weren’t pelting her with rotten fruit. They
treated her as if she were a common thief.
The brute who had conducted her torture shoved the
cobbler aside, tying her elbows and wrists around the wooden stake. Orell. She
remembered his name. His bearded face might have been handsome if not for the
permanent leer. Like the magistrate, he wore the king’s burgundy colors, but
his role had been more vicious. Had he been granted more time, he might have
succeeded at extracting the false confession he wanted, but the magistrate was
in a hurry, afraid of any possible unrest.
Orell yanked on the ropes, tightening her bonds. The
wound on her back broke open all over again. She swallowed a strangled hiss. It
was as if the thug wanted her to suffer, as if he had a private reason to
profit from her pain.
But she had never seen him until three days ago,
when he and the magistrate had shown up unannounced, making random accusations.
Lusielle couldn’t understand any of this.
She knew that the king’s justice was notoriously
arbitrary. It was one of the main reasons why she loathed living under King
Riva’s rule. But she also knew better than to express her opinion. Ruin and
tragedy trailed those who dared to criticize the king. That’s why she had never
mentioned her misgivings to anyone.
What had she done to deserve this fate? And why did
they continue to be so cruel? After all, she wasn’t fighting them anymore.
True, she had resisted at first. Out of fear and
pride, she had tried to defend herself. But in the end, it hadn’t mattered. Her
accusers had relied on the testimony of the devious liar who had turned her
in—Aponte Rummins—her own husband.
The mock hearing had been too painful to bear, too
absurd to believe. Aponte swore before the magistrate that Lusielle was a
secret practitioner of the forbidden odd arts. It was ridiculous. How could
anyone believe that she, who had always relied on logic, measure and
observation to mix her remedies, could possi¬bly serve the Odd God’s dark
purposes? And how could anyone believe Aponte’s lies?
But they did, they believed him as he called on his
paid witnesses and presented fabricated evidence, swearing that he himself had
caught her at the shop, worshipping the Odd God. In the end, it had been her
husband’s false testimony that provided the ultimate proof of the heinous
charge for which Lusielle was about to die.
Burning torch in hand, the magistrate stepped
forward. Still in shock, Lusielle swallowed a gulp of bitter horror and steeled
for the flames’ excruciating pain. She didn’t want to die like a shrieking
coward. But nothing could have prepared her for what happened next.
The magistrate offered the torch to Aponte.
“The king upholds a husband’s authority over his wife
in the kingdom,” the magistrate shouted for the crowd to hear. “There can be no
protests, no doubt of the wisdom of royal justice if a husband does as he’s
entitled to do by his marital rights.”
Aponte could have forgone her execution. Considering
the magistrate’s proclamation, he could have chosen a different punishment for
her. Instead, he accepted the torch and, without hesitation, put the flame to
the tinder and blew over the kindling to start the fire.
“Go now,” he said, grinning like a hog about to
gorge. “Go find your dark lord.”
Lusielle glared at the poor excuse for a man who had
ruined her life many times over. She had known from the beginning that he was
fatally flawed, just as he had known on the day he claimed her that she
couldn’t pledge him any affection.
But Aponte had never wanted her affection. He had
wanted her servitude, and in that sense she proved to be the reluctant but
dutiful servant he craved.
Over the years he had taught her hatred.
His gratification came from beating and humiliating
her. His crass and vulgar tastes turned his bed into a nightmare. She felt so
ashamed of the things he made her do. Still, even if she loathed him—and not
just him, but the slave she had become under his rule—she had tried to make the
best of it.
She had served him diligently, tending to his
businesses, reorganizing his stores, rearranging his trading routes and increasing
his profits. His table had always been ready. His meals had been hot and
flavorsome. His sheets had been crisp and his bed had been coal-warmed every
night. Perhaps due to all of this, he had seemed genuinely pleased with their
Why, then, had he surrendered her so easily to the
Aponte had to have some purpose for this betrayal.
He was, above all, a practical man. He would not surrender all the advantages
that Lusielle brought to him—money, standing, common sense, business
acumen—without the benefit of an even greater windfall.
Lusielle couldn’t understand how, but she was sure
that the bastard was going to profit handsomely from her death.
The scent of pine turned acrid and hot. Cones
crackled and popped. The fire hissed a sinister murmur, a sure promise of pain.
She didn’t watch the little sparks grow into flames at her feet. Instead, her
eyes returned to the back of the crowd, seeking the stranger’s stare. She found
him even as a puff of white smoke clouded her sight and the fire’s rising heat
distorted his scarred face’s fixed expression.
The nearing flames thawed the pervasive cold
chilling her bones. Flying sparks pecked at her skin. Her toes curled. Her feet
flinched. Pain teased her ankles in alarming, nipping jolts. Dear gods. They
were really going to burn her alive!
Lusielle shut her eyes. When she looked again, the
stranger was gone from the crowd. She couldn’t blame him. She would have never
chosen to watch the flame’s devouring dance.
A commotion ensued somewhere beyond the pyre. People
were screaming, but she couldn’t see through the flames and smoke. She flinched
when a lick of fire ignited her shift’s hem. A vile stink filled her lungs. Her
body shivered in shock. She coughed, then hacked. Fear’s fiery fingers began to
torment her legs.
“Come and find me,” she called to the God of fire.
Dora Machado is the award winning
author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse
Giver, available from Twilight Times Books July 2013. She grew up in the
Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste
for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different
worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her
husband and three very opinionated cats.
Dora Machado is the award winning
author of the Stonewiser trilogy and her newest novel, The Curse Giver. She is
one of the few Latinas exploring her heritage and her world through the epic
fantasy genre today. Her first novel, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, won
the 2009 Benjamin Franklin award for best debut novel. Her second novel,
Stonewiser: The Call of the Stone, won the 2010 Independent Publishers Book
Award's (IPPY) Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy book of the year.
Her third novel, Stonewiser: The Lament of the Stone, won the 2012 Independent
Publishers Book Award's (IPPY) Silver Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy
book of the year. All three novels were finalists in ForeWord Magazine's Book
of the Year Award in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Category. Her latest
novel, The Curse Giver from Twilight Times Books is available July 2013.
Subscribe to Dora Machado's blog and/or newsletter and enter
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