Interview with Dora Machado, author of ‘The Curse Giver’

The Curse Giver


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.


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Q: Thank you for this interview, Dora. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Curse Giver, is all about?

A: Of course! I’m very excited about my new fantasy romance, The Curse Giver, published by Twilight Times Books. The Curse Giver is about an innocent healer named Lusielle, who is betrayed and condemned to die for a crime she didn’t commit. When she’s about to be executed, Lusielle is rescued from the pyre by an angry, embittered lord doomed by a mysterious curse. You might think that Bren, Lord of Laonia, is Lusielle’s savior, but, no, he isn’t. On the contrary, Bren is pledged to kill Lusielle because her murder is his people’s only salvation.

What ensues is a dangerous journey, where Lusielle and Bren have to escape their ruthless enemies and unravel the mystery of the terrible curse that ails the Lord of Laonia. They also have to overcome the distrust they have for each other, struggle with the forbidden attraction between them, and defy the boundaries between love and hate and good and evil to defeat the curse giver who has already conjured their ends.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: The main characters in The Curse Giver are Lusielle and Bren. Lusielle is a healer by trade, an outstanding remedy mixer who uses herbs and all kinds of ingredients to make her extraordinary potions. She’s smart, able and has a great business sense, but ever since she was a young woman, she has been trapped in an abusive marriage with a greedy trader who treats her as his slave. Her bleak world falls apart when her cruel husband accuses her of practicing the odd arts. The bitter lord who rescues her from her execution can’t offer any hope. As she joins him in a desperate escape, she must face her fears, discover her strengths, and risk healing the very man who’s fated to kill her.

Brennus, Lord of Laonia, is embittered by the terrible curse that has killed his father and brothers. His own time is running short. If he can’t defeat the curse, he will die and his people will suffer blight and destruction. He is torn between his duty and his honor. His only hope is to hunt for a woman bearing a particular birthmark and kill her in the foulest of ways. Lusielle bears the mark. As he attempts to unravel the curse’s mysteries, with Lusielle by his side, he faces a new problem: Can he kill the only woman capable of healing more than his body, his soul?

The Curse Giver’s supporting characters are also an interesting bunch. Bren’s hunt is aided by Laonia’s Chamber Lord, Hato. Hato is old, arrogant and grouchy, but he’s also smart, wise and loyal. He accompanies Bren, along with the Twenty, a group of sworn warriors pledged to the Lord of Laonia’s cause. Quirky, crass, irreverent and skeptical, Severo is the Twenty’s best scout. He suspects Lusielle, fears for his lord, and loathes Lusielle’s companions, Carfu and Elfu. The twins are odd, gruff and eccentric, but they have served Lusielle’s family since she was born, and she trusts them.

There’s also Khalia, High Chosen of Teos, a powerful air inhaler who can tell truth from lies and never ceases to surprise, and Riva, the impostor ruler of the Kingdom who wants to kill Bren and conquer Laonia. And of course, there’s the mysterious curse giver, a creature who relishes evil and thrives on her victims’ suffering. But, to learn more about her, you’ll have to read the book!

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people, or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My characters belong to my imagination, and yet my imaginary worlds feel very real to me.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I typically know the beginning and the end of my novels before I start writing. I also have a pretty good idea of the plot and the big issues I want to tackle. But my plots are always twisting and I discover a lot about my characters and the storyline as I go along. The best plot twists are those that surprise not just the reader, but the author as well.

Q: Your book is set in an imaginary world. Can you tell us why you chose this setting in particular?

A: At the heart of every great fantasy, there is a rich and complex world. I like to create fantasy worlds that feel “real,” interesting geographies with diverse and unique populations that have their own cultures and beliefs, and worlds riddled with conflict, discord and controversy. Sound familiar?

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Absolutely. I think that settings are particularly important in fantasy. To create rich and authentic settings, I draw a lot of inspiration from the places I travel to. For example, I had an opportunity to visit Peru when I was writing The Curse Giver. The breathtaking sights of Machu Picchu, the religious ceremonies that I witnessed in Cuzco, and the Quechuan legends I learned about influenced The Curse Giver’s settings, both physically and conceptually. In addition, my experiences rafting on the Colorado River, exploring the Mississippi River, and researching the Amazon River, helped create and authenticate the river-centered culture and geography of The Curse Giver’s settings.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: On page 69 of The Curse Giver, we find Lord Hato—Bren’s right-hand man and spy master—sneaking into the Lady of Tolone’s library to steal an ancient manuscript that may help defeat the curse ailing Bren and threatening to destroy Laonia. Hato is an old man, but age is not a barrier to this shrewd player of politics. While stealing the valuable manuscript, he also discovers that the Lady of Tolone, who is one of Bren’s key allies—not to mention his long-time betrothed—has betrayed Bren by conspiring against him with Bren’s dangerous enemy, King Riva.

Alarmed by his finding, Hato manages a bold escape. By the time the Lady of Tolone’s guards catch up with him, he is sitting in a warm tub, pretending he’s been soaking his swollen knee all afternoon. They never notice that under the water, Hato is still wearing his breeches.

But Hato’s problems have just gotten worse, because the Lord of Laonia and his captive, Lusielle, have both disappeared overnight, and Hato’s men return to report that they’ve found evidence of a fight deep in the woods. Hato wonders: Was the woman a trap from Bren’s enemies? Did she too betray the cursed Lord of Laonia? Has Bren fallen captive or is he perhaps dead?

Hato jumps out of the tub, sodden breeches and all, and orders his men to prepare to leave. Dead or alive, Hato is determined to find his lord.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: That’s like asking me to choose one of my children! How about I give you the end of chapter one? In this excerpt, Lusielle is on the pyre, about to be burned, after her greedy husband has betrayed her and the king has found her guilty of a crime she didn’t commit:

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.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Dora. We wish you much success!

A: Thank you for chatting with me. Best wishes for you and all your readers.



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. 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.

You can visit her at



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