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We’re thrilled to have here today Jalenia, from Dora Machado’s new fantasy novel, The Curse Giver. Jalenia is an ageless curse giver who usually keeps her name and whereabouts secret, but generally operates in the Kingdom and the Free Territories that comprise the Land of the Thousand Gods along the great river Nerpes. She’s very mysterious, so don’t expect to learn a lot from her and beware: Whatever you do, you don’t really want her to turn her attention to you.
Thank you, 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?
Thank you so much for this interview, Jalenia. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
Fairly portrayed? 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 press.
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?
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 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 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 that was trying to kill her in order to survive and save his people from the 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.
What do you believe 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 the realms.
I don’t have a worst trait. I consider myself the perfect curse giver. Shudder when you hear my name.
If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
I doubt there’s anyone in my world capable of playing me. Don’t you understand? I can be anybody. I could even be you.
Do 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 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?
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.
At 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 that I had anticipated. Perhaps I should have taken care of her early on, when I killed her mother. Lusielle’s wits turned out to be more impressive than most, certainly more impressive than the cursed 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. But I’m getting off point. You need to know: Regardless of how the story ended, my curse prevailed and that’s the true measure of my power and strength.
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. Like I said in the book, 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.
How do you feel about the ending of the book, without giving too much away?
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.
What 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.
Thank 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.
Purchase The Curse Giver on AMAZON
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.
Author R. Leigh is a mystery to local neighbors, appearing enigmatic and ageless, and wearing an ever present red crystal pendant. Some have guessed this author’s secret other-worldly origin, speculating that the tales of Asharra might somehow be true. Outskirts Press does not confirm this and will not comment on rumors that the manuscript for this novel appeared in their offices out of nowhere.
You can visit her website at www.thewindsofasharra.com.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, R. Leigh. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?
Thank you. My published novels are 3 Passports to Paradise , a science fiction novel published in 1999 (now out of print) and The Winds of Asharra, a combination fantasy and romance novel, just recently published. I’ve also done a handful of sci-fi/fantasy short stories for obscure regional markets.
For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
I had shopped 3P2P around to a couple of publishers before deciding to go with an obscure startup micro press so the rejections were few. Given the brief length of 3P2P (really more of a novella), I quickly decided that it might be more appealing to a smaller niche publisher.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
I look at rejections a little differently than most people. While I still might be subject to a brief flash of frustration, to me, it is all about the book finding its “proper” audience. If a particular venue is not “right”, it might have far more to do with the particular style or type preferred by a publisher than anything to do with the individual novel submitted.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
3P2P was published in 1999 by a small micro press which is now out of business. It was a startup which aimed to target new sci-fi authors. That seemed to be glove fit at the time.
Ten years later, I chose to self publish the 600 page opus, The Winds of Asharra (with Outskirts Press) because I instinctively knew that I had created something very difficult to classify. It has more than enough fantasy elements (intelligent trees, evolved felines, musical dragons, etc..) to be considered a fantasy, but enough sizzle to be seen as a romance (with multiple happy couples by the end). It also spends considerable time outlining a complicated alien philosophy and culture . In short, it would appeal to several different demographics across genres (fantasy, romance, New Age) but it would be difficult to market due to this very reason. I did not even attempt to pitch it to traditional publishers as of result of this.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I was of course elated at the prospect and I recall that my spouse and I went out to dinner at a local restaurant, something expensive with all of the trimmings. I can’t recall more since it was so long ago, but I can still recall the feeling of elation and euphoria.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
No, but perhaps I would have chosen a publisher who would still be around, one with more resources to support the work.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
Publishing The Winds of Asharra in late March has been a monumental event in my life, both as an author and as a person. I definitely did grow and change significently during the almost ten year gap between novels. When I was “away” from writing during that time, I was experiencing life in many unusual ways and in several unusual locales, amassing experiences and widening my viewpoint on life in general. That was more than evident when I felt compelled to write The Winds of Asharra (called WOA by its fans).
If my first novel had been crafted by the numbers, a serious product of one hemisphere of my brain, then WOA was the complete opposite. It flowed freely from me, almost effortlessly, in direct contrast to the previous novel. Given the fact that WOA is 608 pages, compared to the paltry 178 of the previous work, I found that amazing.
Yet, more important to me was the fact that WOA was something of a nexus for development in my life (and even the life of my spouse). The Winds of Asharra, is not only a combination fantasy and romance novel. It also contains a complex fantasy philosophy (the Asharran ways) and culture. I confess that my own worldview (and that of my spouse) is a mirror image of the mystical yet optimistic ways of the Asharrans. If my talents as an author grew at all in those ten years, it is reflected not only in the unique characters and setting in WOA (making it difficult to even properly classify) but also the underlying worldview both in the novel and my own life, thanks to my life experiences.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
Actually, other than picking a publisher that would have remained solvent, I don’t think I would have done anything differently. At that point in my life I was writing with my head and not my inner being. I was a different person then and my decisions were in tune with who I was, someone following the established rules (especially when they made sense). I don’t think anything could have increased the speed of things since I had to grow as a person and I simply did not have the depth of life experiences at that time.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
Since I am now following an Asharran type of worldview, one of non-competitiveness (perhaps a bit rare for an author) my accomplishments are subtle inner ones rather than grandiose outer ones. Just feeling that there is a “world” and a “cast of characters” so rich and complex at my disposal thanks to WOA, ready to share their adventures in future novels, is my proudest accomplishment.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
Difficult question. Perhaps college professor as I like to talk as well as write (can’t you tell?)
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I am thrilled where I am now and content on a variety of levels. If it sounds almost mystical then you are reading it correctly. While WOA can be viewed as pure entertainment or perhaps as a genre bending work, appealing to both fantasy and romance fans, it is also much more. While intended to be entertainment, it also speaks to the reader and reassures him/her not to give up their ideals. We say in the book (in Asharran terms) that the only way to fail is to give up. By that definition, I know I will not fail.
I suppose long winded book promotion might qualify as pseudo-professorial but seriously, I would not change anything. I am thrilled with what I am doing.
How do you see yourself in ten years?
With any luck, I will be working on number 10 in the Winds of Asharra series. It is odd and perhaps due to the strange and easy way that WOA flowed onto my computer, but I honestly have no desire to write any other locations or characters. I have found a universe that is truly Home (the very definition of my world, Asharra) and I think it would take at least ten years to fully explore all of the nooks and crannies that my characters are pointing out to me.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Sure. Appropriately, it’s also something that the main character is told: Learn as much as you can, and then spend as much time forgetting it all. After learning the nuts and bolts of your craft, learn to trust your inner mind and your heart. Don’t write about what you know. Write about what you feel. For me, that is the adventure, the romance and the optimism of the world of Asharra. As my characters say, I’ve allowed myself to be carried along by the Winds, and in doing so, anything is possible. Again, you can only fail if you give up. There is no other definition for me.
Thanks for having me here.