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 flames.
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.
Hi, my name is Dora Machado and I'm doing something a little bit unusual but very fun today. I'm interviewing one of the characters of my new fantasy novel, The Curse Giver.
But first, let me tell you a little about the story. The Curse Giver is about Lusielle, an innocent healer who is betrayed and condemned to die for a crime she didn't commit. She's on the pyre and about to die, when Bren, the embittered Lord of Laonia, rescues her. He's not her savior. On the contrary, he is doomed by a mysterious curse and Lusielle's murder is his only salvation. Stalked by intrigue and confounded by forbidden passion, predator and prey must band together to defeat not only the vile curse obliterating their lives, but also the curse giver who has already conjured their ends.
For my interview today I've invited the villain of the story, the curse giver herself, to answer my questions. Please forgive me if I seem a little on edge. The curse giver is very devious and mysterious and I'm not necessarily comfortable having her around. So don't expect any kindnesses from her and beware: You don't want to attract the curse giver's attention.
DM: Welcome curse giver. Perhaps we can start with the basics. What should I call you?
CG: Curse giver is fine.
DM: Don't you have a name?
CG: Why would you want to know my name?
DM: Well, for easy reference, I suppose.
CG: Have you been cursed lately?
DM: Me? No. Don't look at me like that. Why do you ask?
CG: People who want to know my name usually have an agenda.
DM: What do you mean?
CG: Do you think I'm a fool? There are people who say that one way of defusing a curse is to learn the name of the curse giver.
DM: Is that true?
CG: Like I would tell you.
DM: Well, if it isn't true, then you shouldn't have any trouble telling us your name, should you?
CG: You think you know everything, don't you? Well, you don't. My given name is Jalenia.
DM: Jalenia, how old are you and where do you live?
CG: I'm ageless, but you know that. As to my lair, I'm not sharing any of that with you. Suffice to say that I travel the land of the Thousand Gods, east and west of the great river Nerpes.
DM: Okay, well, do you want to tell us a little about your occupation?
CG: I make my living casting curses in the human realm. That's all you need to know.
DM: Curse giver—I mean, Jalenia—I'm curious. Why did you agree to do this interview?
CG: As you know, I don't do interviews often. More like never. But I was curious about you. After all, you wrote me. You must have some redeeming qualities. Also, I'm looking for work. Who knows? Maybe you or one of your readers needs my services?
DM: Let's not cast any curses today. Remember? You promised.
CG: I'm just saying, if somebody needs a casting . . . .
DM: How about we talk about the book? Do you feel like I did a fair job portraying your character?
CG: Me? Fairly portrayed? I don't think so. Creatures like me 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 press.
DM: So you felt like I was unfair in the way I portrayed you?
CG: I fault you for leaving a couple of situations up to the reader's interpretation, but overall, I think you did okay. I mean, I like being evil, and you got that part down. Oh, yes, you wrote me devious and powerful, just the way I am. You didn't make excuses for me. You didn't make me good, friendly or caring. So what if the readers loathe me?
DM: In the story, why did you curse the Lord of Laonia with such a virulent curse?
CG: Wouldn't you like to know? I'll tell you this: The Lord of Laonia's father did me wrong. He deserved to be cursed. He and his entire line deserved to suffer, all the way to the last of his sons, Bren, whose tragic story you tell 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 other reasonable men might have done. His sense of duty was as impressive as his endurance.
DM: It almost sounds like you admire the Lord of Laonia.
CG: Admire him? I don't know about that. 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.
DM: Did you ever feel any compassion for him?
CG: Compassion? That's a joke, right? I don't feel compassion and I relish suffering. Death is nourishment, craft is breath, work is life, grief is gold. You wrote those words into my dialogue. You ought to know better.
DM: Did you have any positive emotions towards the Lord of Laonia? Did you at any time regret his suffering?
CG: I treasured the man's hatred for me. Loathing, hatred and revulsion are thrilling, satisfying emotions worth living with and 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.
DM: Did you at least feel bad for all the suffering you caused Lusielle?
CG: The remedy mixer 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 that was trying to kill her in order to save his people from destruction. Little did Lusielle know about how foul and terrible her death would be at 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.
DM: What are your virtues?
CG: Virtues? I want nothing to do with virtues. I've got none.
DM: Okay, let me rephrase the question. What are your strengths?
CG: I'm powerful, more powerful than any other curse giver that has ever existed. I've got potent 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, 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 victims' demise. Finally, I'm merciless, selfish and wicked beyond redemption. These are the traits that make me the most powerful curse giver in the realms.
DM: What are your weaknesses?
CG: I don't have weaknesses. I'm the perfect curse giver. Shudder when you hear my name.
DM: Did you fall in love in the book?
CG: 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. I never understood. What did Lusielle see in the bitter, wretched lord fated to die by my hand? 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.
DM: So I guess you don't believe in love?
CG: 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.
DM: Are you interested in anyone in particular?
CG: Interested? No. 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.
DM: Was there a point in the book when you were afraid that your curse was going to be defeated?
CG: Afraid? 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. Lusielle's wits turned out to be more impressive than most.
Until he found Lusielle, the Lord of Laonia was all brawn, wrath and desperation, easy to tease, mock and mislead. But 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.
DM: Um, no thanks. I think I'll pass. Moving on. Spoilers aside, did you like the way the story ended?
CG: Some might think the ending curious, but I think that it reflected the true measure of my power and strength. Doomed 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.
DM: Do you have any words of wisdom for me, if I decided to write another book with you in it?
CG: Embrace the wickedness within and you will find me; relish it and you will understand me.
DM: Thank you for this interview, curse giver Jalenia. Will we ever see you again?
CG: Perhaps if The Soul Chaser has a story to tell, you will include me in it, for cursed souls rarely live for long and the soul chaser must come.
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Dora Machado is the award winning author of the Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, coming this summer from Twilight Times Books. 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 Stones, won the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Award's (IPPY) Silver Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy book of the year. All three novels were finalist in ForeWord Magazine for Book of the Year in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Category. Her latest novel, The Curse Giver from Twilight Times Books is available July 2013.
She holds a master's degree in business administration and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Georgetown University. She was born in Michigan and grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a bilingual fascination for writing, a love for history, and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She enjoys long walks, traveling, and connecting with the amazing readers who share in her mind's adventures. She lives in Florida with her indulging husband and three very opinionated cats.
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