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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Interviewing fantasy author Dora Machado about her new relese, The Curse Giver

Today, I'm pleased to bring my readers an interesting interview with fantasy author Dora Machado about her new release, The Curse Giver. Be sure to check out her book as well as her terrific contest at the bottom of this post.

Hi Marsha! Thank you so much for your interest in The Curse Giver.

In The Curse Giver, your heroine, Lusielle, leads a bleak but orderly life as a remedy mixer that is shattered when her husband betrays her and she is sentenced to die for a crime she didn't commit. What are her responsibilities as a remedy mixer? What are her world and lifestyle like in her ordinary life? Does she live in the present-day world we know?

Lusielle lives in a small village in the kingdom of a fantasy world centered around the great River Nerpes. Her life is hard. Orphaned and destitute as a young woman, she has been forced to marry a greedy trader who treats her like a slave. Lusielle has tried to please her husband, organizing his trade routes, running his stores and increasing his profits, but his cruelty can't be appeased.

Lusielle is a gifted remedy mixer, trained to prepare medicines to heal the sick. She uses plants, herbs, spices and minerals to create healing and strengthening potions. She is very popular in her village—that is, until her husband conspires with the king to kill her.

As Lusielle is on the pyre and about to burn, she can't understand her husband's actions. She realizes that there's got to be something else to account for his betrayal—some kind of profit, she suspects, and it has to do with the odd birthmark that the king's thugs have tried to remove from her back.

That's how we meet Lusielle in The Curse Giver's opening chapter: helpless, terrified and desperate. As the flames begin to burn, she calls on the god of fire to release her from her suffering. And you know what? Incredibly, he comes!

Does the betrayal lead to the accusations Lusielle faces, implicating her for the crime?

Yes, very much so. Lusielle's cruel husband accuses her of worshipping the forbidden odd god. It's an offense that the ruthless king who rules over the west bank of the Nerpes punishes by death. To gain the king's favor, Lusielle's husband lies to everyone, delivering her to the king's thugs. Lusielle is tried, convicted and condemned to death based on her husband's lies.

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. Who has cursed his people and why? Who has informed Brennus of the method to break the curse?

Ah, see, now you we are getting into the mysteries and the plot twists that make The Curse Giver such an interesting read!

I can't answer your question fully without giving up some of the twists, but I'll tell you this: Bren's father was doomed by a powerful and mysterious curse giver, who also cursed his sons and vowed to destroy their homeland. Bren has witnessed the terrible deaths of his father and his brothers. One by one, they've succumbed to the curse and now Bren has only a few weeks left before the curse kills him as well.

Bren doesn't know who the curse giver is or why his father was cursed in the first place, but it's not for lack of trying. He is desperately trying to find a way to defeat or defuse the curse. He and his men have been following every lead possible, including a mysterious set of riddles that suggest that if he finds a woman who bears the goddess's mark, he might be able to stop the curse giver. That's why he risks it all to rescue Lusielle from the pyre. That's why he takes her as his prisoner as they flee the kingdom. But when he is wounded during the escape, he discovers that Lusielle is very different from what he expects. Now he faces a dismal choice: Can he kill the only woman capable of healing more than his body, his soul?

Unfortunately, Lusielle is the woman who bears the mark that Brennus seeks. 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. What qualities about Lusielle attract Brennus? What about Brennus attracts Lusielle?

Good questions! I think Brennus is attracted to Lusielle because she is smart, warm and caring, a true healer in all ways, a healer of bodies, minds and souls. At the beginning, he is dazzled by her competencies, her resilience and her ability to see beyond appearances, beliefs and assumptions. As a cursed man, an outlaw and a fugitive, Bren expects nothing from people. So he is stunned when the very woman he is fated to kill turns out to be open-minded, trustworthy and kind.

Lusielle is attracted to Brennus because she can see through his desperation. He is brave, honorable and determined, and he will not quit, not even when he faces dismal odds. He is also smart, decisive and loyal. He is not afraid to challenge tyranny and injustice. Lusielle can see that, beyond the bitterness, Bren is a good man trying to do right by his people.

How can the two help each other in the difficulties they face while attempting to defeat the curse and curse giver? What special skills does each contribute?

These two realize very quickly that they need each other to survive. Bren has the brawn and brains to help Lusielle escape her husband's abuse and the king's wrath. He is the only one willing to protect her, at least for the moment. On the other hand, Lusielle has the mark that may hold the key to defeating the curse. But Bren soon discovers that Lusielle is also very crafty. Her tradeswoman skills are incredibly helpful to him. She's a skilled negotiator, a cunning businesswoman and a shrewd judge of character. She gets things done. Her potions and medicines heal and strengthen him, allowing him to face his enemies, including the mysterious curse giver. But there's more to Lusielle than meets the eye, a special kind of magic that might change everything, if only she can discover it in time.   

Briefly describe the magical systems of your world. How do those who are empowered gain their abilities?

The magical systems of The Curse Giver are part of a rich mythology and a set of beliefs that enhance and add to the conflict of this vivid fantasy world. I can't tell you a lot without giving away the plot, but I'll tell you this: Magic is real in this world. It's personal, distinctive and individual. It comes through as characters make choices, fail, cope, learn, adapt and change; as they establish emotional connections and engage in each other's quests. It's fueled by knowledge, reason and awareness. At the end of the day, magic is only as powerful as the strength within.

The Curse Giver
Dora Machado

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy, Fantasy Romance, Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
ISBN: 978-1-60619-289-4
Number of pages: 420
Word Count: 165,000 aprox.
Cover Artist: Brad Fraunfelter


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. 

Book Trailer: 

The Curse Giver Chapter One

Dread 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 marital arrangement.

Why, then, had he surrendered her so easily to the magistrate’s brute?

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.
And he did.

About the Author

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.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at  

Subscribe to her blog at , sign up for her newsletter at  and follow her on Facebook and  Twitter.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit

About Dora Machado's Novels:

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.

Twitter: @DoraMachado or
Amazon Author Central:

Curse Giver Tour Giveaway Details

Subscribe to Dora Machado's blog and/or newsletter and enter for a chance to win:

1) One of three autographed books of Dora Machado's Stonewiser Series.
2) One of ten special edition bracelets commemorating The Curse Giver's EBook release.
This handcrafted, customized, limited-edition, 1/4 inch aluminum bracelet from Silver Statements is hammered and stamped with The Curse Giver's signature message—Knowledge, Reason and Awareness, and flanked by the stylized outline of butterfly wings. Inside, the bracelet is stamped with the word Strength. Aluminum is a great metal for jewelry. It won't turn your skin green, doesn't oxidize or tarnish, and its water safe. Plus it's so lightweight that you might even forget you're wearing it.
For a chance at one of The Curse Giver's limited edition bracelets subscribe now at:
Yes, you double your chances when you subscribe to both the blog and the newsletter!

Giveaway Terms and Condition:
New subscribers to the blog and/or newsletter will automatically qualify to participate. Names will be selected at random from the list of new subscribers on November 15, 2013. Subscribers will be notified via e-mail. Winners will be asked to provide a mailing address for delivery.

Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED, Book Three, LOST VOLUMES, and Book Four, STAUROLITE. For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.


Dora Machado said...

Hi Marsha! Thank you so much for featuring The Curse Giver in your blog today. I had a great time answering your questions and I look forward to learning more about you and your books. Have a wonderful day and best wishes to you and your readers.