If you love the idea of a Portuguese historical fantasy with a sapphic romance, about a girl who turns the things she touches into flowers, then you’re going to want to huddle around the Pond today – because we have an exciting and special guest visiting us today!
Today for Our Friend is Here! we have Diana Pinguicha visiting us at the Pond! Her debut book, A Curse of Roses, releases today and I could not be more thrilled to have her here on such a momentous day. (Diana visits us as a pink and purple penguin, wearing a scarf with a bearded dragon sitting atop her head!)
If your curiosity about A Curse of Roses has been piqued, then you’ll find that the interview will convince you even more to read it. But before we hop on over to the author interview, I’d like to properly introduce you to A Curse of Roses.
A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha
With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.
There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.
If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers…into food.
Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.
As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?
With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.
She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.
Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty…
How awesome does this book sound?! I’ve just started A Curse of Roses and, friends, if you love a sweeping and imaginative fantasy and a story about self-acceptance, then read on – you’re going to love the author interview that I did with Diana!
Author Interview: Diana Pinguicha
CW: Hello Diana! A huge and warm welcome to The Quiet Pond – it’s such a delight to have you visit us today. For our friends out there who might only be meeting you for the first time, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Diana: Hi! Thank you so much for having me! 😀
I’m a Portuguese author from Estremoz, but currently live in Lisbon with my three perfect pets, the cats Sushi and Jubas, and the bearded dragoness Norberta. I have an Engineering degree I no longer use, worked in educational video games, as an English teacher, and now write full time! I also enjoy painting (portraits, mostly) and playing copious amounts of video games.
CW: Congratulations on your debut, A Curse of Roses, and its release! We’re so excited for you, and can’t wait to read it ourselves. Can you tell us what A Curse of Roses is about?
Diana: A Curse of Roses is a sapphic retelling of my hometown’s legend about Isabel de Aragão. In my version, Yzabel thinks she’s cursed because all the food she touches turns to flowers. In order to end her plight and better help the Portuguese, she seeks out an Enchanted Moura named Fatyan. But upon finding the Moura, she’s told it’s not a curse, but a gift–and should she learn how to reverse it, she can make bread out of flowers, allowing her to feed the Portuguese without spending a dime (which was Denis’s problem with her–spending too much money on charity!) What follows is a story of self-acceptance, as well as a whole lot of romance!
CW: A Curse of Roses is based on a Portugese legend – and we don’t see Portugese-inspired YA fiction! Can you tell us a little bit about the ‘original’ legend itself, and what inspired you to retell it into A Curse of Roses?
Diana: In the original legend, Isabel was already married to Dinis, who, like in the book, is very against charity. Believing him wrong, she’d sneak out of the castle to give bread to the poor. At one point Dinis catches her in the act, and when he asks her what she’s carrying in her skirts, she answers with “Roses.” It was actually bread, but when Dinis asked her to show him, lo and behold, the bread turned to roses. Perceived as a miracle, Dinis was humbled and allowed his queen to continue her charitable exploits as she saw fir.
CW: Your book is heavily marketed to be #OwnVoices! How does it mean to you to have written and published a book that has an integral part of you?
Diana: It has a lot of integral parts of me! I’m no longer religious, but I was raised Catholic, and had much of Yzabel’s mindset growing up. I denied that I was queer for a long time, and it took me a whole lot of therapy to finally accept myself as I am. Many of Yzabel’s behaviors are also similar to mine–her getting locked on an obsession, her needing to control everything, even what she can’t, her stubbornness, her bending herself to everyone even to her own detriment.
And, of course, the Portuguese culture!
CW: In one of your previous author interviews, you mention that English is your second language! What was your experience of writing A Curse of Roses in English? What is something you’d want to tell all writers out there who are writing in their second language?
Diana: It is! I started having basic English classes in 3rd grade because I was at a private school then (long story short: the public schools didn’t know how to deal with an undiagnosed autistic girl with ADHD, and it didn’t end well). My “real” English classes started in 5th grade, and between the 6th and 7th grades I discovered The Legend of Zelda, and played the whole thing with a dictionary to learn what was happening.
I got access to the internet at 14, and really bonded with a group in the Tomb Raider fandom. Since they were basically my only friends, and our shared language was English, it ended up being a good way for me to practice. And I also got into writing fanfic! My English was not that great, but through practice and perseverance, I got better.
So, my tip to anyone who’s writing in a second language is: practice, practice, practice! Also, read a lot and you’ll end up internalizing expressions and words.
As for writing ACOR… By the time I got to it, it was the seventh novel I wrote with the intent of getting published. I was pretty fluent in English, to the point my written English is much better than my written Portuguese right now. After so many years of practice, English now comes more naturally to me.
I did have a lot of fun introducing Portuguese expressions to English speakers, though. It wasn’t always easy, but I think I provided enough context for them to work. Also, there is a ton of Portuguese in the book, namely with food and magical rhymes. I just had to!
CW: I like to close my author interviews with this question: What is a food that reminds you of ‘home’ – whoever or wherever that may be?
Diana: Açorda–which is such a cliché answer for an Alentejo person, but it’s true. My nana Nini, who’s since passed (and whom I miss a lot) made it all the time, and so does my dad. It’s such an Alentejo food and I included a recipe in ACOR!
About the Author
Born in the sunny lands of Portugal, Diana is a Computer Engineer graduate who currently calls Lisbon home. She can usually be found writing, painting, devouring extraordinary quantities of books and video games, or walking around with her bearded dragon, Norberta. She also has two cats, Sushi and Jubas, who would never forgive her if she didn’t mention them.
Her debut, A CURSE OF ROSES, is published by Entangled: Teen. If you want to find her online, she’s @pinguicha pretty much everywhere!