In my novel, By a Charm and a Curse, Emmaline King is suffering from a curse that has petrified her skin, rendering her unable to feel anything except a brutal cold. One of the conditions of the curse is that she’s now tied to the carnival, unable to stray too far from its confines.
Benjamin Singer has traveled with and worked for the carnival since he was five years old. And though he knows better than most the benefits of the magic that keeps the carnival performers and workers safe and happy, he’s tired. But he and his best friend have a plan – they’re going to leave the carnival behind and strike out on their own.
It is the absolute worst time to fall in love.
It’s often said that writers like to torture their characters, and writing lovers who can’t be together because of circumstances outside their control might be one of the best ways to do that. Innocent touches become laden with meaning in a way that’s different from couples who can flirt freely. And with the curse in play, I could write them desperate to touch and to kiss but know that to do so could be deadly. And on top of that, the curse has rendered Emma into something like a living doll. Kissing is not that fun when one is a living doll.
Touch is so important in romance, and by keeping my characters from being able to do that, or at least, being able to do that in the ways they wanted, really let me see who they’d become. Emma became more frustrated, not only because she was suffering from this curse, but also because she finally had a boy in front of her who she wanted to be with but she couldn’t do anything about it. And Ben, unable to express how he feels, became a little more frantic, a little more willing to take risks.
All of this reaches a fever pitch by the end of the book, with emotions strung taut between the two.
It was so much fun to write two characters who were drawn to each other at a time in their lives when they were being pulled in opposite directions. And in the process of trying to keep them apart, it just became apparent how much they wanted to be together. I hope everyone else loves their story as much as I do.
About By a Charm and a Curse:
Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.
Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.
Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.
About Jaime Questell:
JAIME QUESTELL grew up in Houston, Texas, where she escaped the heat and humidity by diving into stacks of Baby Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books. She has been a book seller (fair warning: book lovers who become book sellers will give half their paychecks right back to their employers), a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and now works as a graphic designer in addition to writing.