Can you please share with us a little about yourself?
My name is Dora Machado and I’m one of the few Latinas writing epic romance fantasy and dark fantasy these days. I was born in Michigan but I grew up in the Dominican Republic, an island that has a special place in my heart. I’m a graduate of Georgetown University, where I majored in history and got my first taste of the medieval history that inspires many of my worlds. I live in Florida with my wonderful husband and three cats, one of which spends most of the writing day—and night—with me. I have two incredible kids who are out braving and exploring the world. I’m the author of the award-winning Stonewiser series and my newest release, The Curse Giver, my first standalone novel.
How long have you been writing?
In my mind, I’ve been writing all my life, but I really didn’t settle down to write in the full sense of the word until about seven years ago, when, for the first time, I had the time and opportunity to write my stories
When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
Even in my earliest memories, I was fascinated by books. As a child, I made up stories in my mind all the time. My teachers called it daydreaming, but I remember it as character development and plotting. No wonder I had such trouble with sixth grade math!
It took me a long time to realize that those stories in my head were actually novels that needed to be written. By the time I figured it out, I was a wife and a mom and, with a full-time job, I didn’t have the time to write. But as my children grew older and more independent, I realized that my time to write was coming at last. And when it did, I seized it and now I plan to keep at it for the duration.
Do you read much, and if so, who are your favorite authors?
I love to read and I wish I had time to read even more. As a young woman growing up in the Dominican Republic, I was exposed to many different influences. Books such as A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosas, and the House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende left lasting impressions. In fantasy, I’m always dazzled by J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen Donaldson, Frank Herbert, Robert Jordan, and George R.R. Martin. I also like Diana Gabaldon, Colleen McCullough, Bernard Cornwell and Anne Rice.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
I’m most proud of my kids, my family and my books, in that order.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
Well, I suppose I’m kind of a rare bird, a Latina who writes epic fantasy, an American who grew up in the Dominican Republic. I think my diverse life experiences bring a different perspective to the genre. I’m also an avid traveler and I get a lot of inspiration for my books from my travels. Perhaps because I’m a student of the world at large, I like to inject fantasy with a healthy dose of gritty realism. I’m also a mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend, and I believe that romance, family and complex relationships enrich a fantasy novel and make it real.
What was your inspiration for The Curse Giver?
I was doing research for Stonewiser: The Lament of the Stone, the third book of the Stonewiser trilogy, when I came across a picture of an ancient curse, written on a stone tablet. It was a protective curse, a warning, and it struck me as a very effective way of stopping someone from doing something, an attempt at law enforcement, justice and mind control, all in one.
I started to research curses and became fascinated by how pervasive curses are to the human story. I came across many different types of curses from all kinds of belief systems and from all over the world. Even though they were all different, they were also very similar.
Then one night I dreamed—yes, I know, it’s cliché, but it’s the truth—I dreamed about this bitter lord, the last Lord of Laonia, who was caught in the grip of a mysterious curse that had doomed his line. Based on this powerful image, I came up with my premise and my heroine. In order to save his people from destruction, the Lord of Laonia has to hunt a birthmark and kill the woman who bears it in a very foul, very wicked way—but you’ll have to read the book to find out what that’s all about.
My heroine, Lusielle, bears the mark that the Lord of Laonia hunts. She’s a powerful healer, on the run, accused of a crime she didn’t commit. She’s about to be burned for her crimes, when the Lord of Laonia saves her from the pyre. But he is not her savior. On the contrary, he’s deadly to her. So this is how the story begins, with Lusielle wondering if she should heal the bitter lord who is pledged to kill her and the Lord of Laonia set to kill the only woman who could heal not just his body but also his soul.
What sort of personality does your hero have?
I like to say that Bren is a type-A personality gone desperate. At the beginning of the story, he comes across as arrogant, brash and bitter. In reality, his dire circumstances have forced him to become a person he doesn’t like. As Lusielle soon discovers, beneath all the anger and hostility he is brave, honorable and determined. He will not quit, not even when facing dismal odds and overwhelming force. He is also smart, decisive and loyal. He has a brilliant strategic mind and he is not afraid to challenge injustice and defy tyranny. Above all, he is a good man, fighting extraordinary evil while trying to do right by his people.
What sort of personality does your heroine have?
Lusielle is smart, kind, trustworthy, warm and caring, a true healer in all ways, a healer of bodies, minds and souls. She is incredibly competent at her craft, an excellent remedy mixer who studies her ingredients, understands how they work, and is always trying to create new and more effective cures. She is also resilient, open-minded, and uses her good instincts to see beyond appearances, blind beliefs and assumptions. Perhaps most importantly, Lusielle learns from her mistakes and has the courage to take risks, even when those risks involve the dangers of a forbidden relationship with a cursed outlaw who must kill her in order to survive.
Can you share with us your current work in progress?
I’m currently working on several different projects, including a contemporary dark fantasy with a Latin twist and another standalone fantasy romance that takes place in the world of The Curse Giver. It’s not a sequel, not exactly, but rather a related novel. It’s currently called The Soul Chaser. Also, the Stonewiser series is coming out in audiobook. The first book of the trilogy, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, is already available at http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Stonewiser-Audiobook/B00F52CJIY/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1379186069&sr=1-1. Take a listen. It’s good, old-fashioned storytelling at its very best.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
Give a new writer a try today. Try something different that you hadn’t considered reading before. Try fantasy, for example, and open your senses to the idea of new and different worlds. Reading is the fastest, most convenient way of traveling, and our minds really need to travel.
Lusielle’s bleak but orderly life as a remedy mixer is shattered when 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 demise.
Award-Winning Finalist in the fantasy category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News
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Genre – Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
Rating – PG-18
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