The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar : A Blog Tour
Today folks I’m a little bit nervous, why is that ? I hear you ask. Well toda I have Cristian Salazar over for a chat. Who’s he you ask? Well Cristian is of noble Catalan blood but his family is notorious for witchcraft. He is wealthy and treats the artistic pastime which has brought him a little fame as a mere hobby and a means of manipulating his admirers. He is also the rather evil and twisted villain in Steven Katriel’s new book The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar
His capricious habit of issuing bizarre commands to his retainers were often a mixture of sheer arrogance and showmanship. Upon awakening, Dali might order his servants to go out and find crippled identical twins, a tranvestite, and a leper who were willing to pose naked for a ‘masterpiece’ which would never be completed. The above seems rather comical, doesn’t it? However, it is indicative of his strange, crule humour. Dali expected his followers to treat him as a king, and his whims became identical to royal commands, at least, in the mind of ‘The Great Dali’.
What were you like before the story began?
CRISTIAN SALAZAR: My story never had a beginning and, with fortune at my side, it may never end. For the sake of convenience I will say that I have been unaltered since my childhood days, spent happily alongside my cousin Beatriz, in my homeland; my personal historian Steven Katriel expresses this well:
Burgos, Castile, 1810
Picture, if you will, a path blasted by the sun, devoid of flora and feature, a twisting man-made trail of dust and dirt leading to nowhere in particular. Upon this path, two children walk. They do not skip along, and they do not hold hands; this is not a tale of carefree, idle charm. For these children belong to the Salazar clan, and they are unlike others of their age and society.
Their stride is purposeful yet they have no destination in their collective mind. Master and mistress of all they survey, their journey has one true purpose only: to silently taunt those who fear them by their mere presence. Adults who witness their approach either retreat indoors or hail them, as if Cristian and Beatriz were innocents abroad, happily wandering their way home. The two are shunned by other children who nevertheless proffer no provocation, because experience has taught them hard lessons despite their youth.
Their departure is greeted with unspoken relief, as if Angels of Death had swept through on the wind, mindful of alternative prey. As they leave their observers behind, Cristian and Beatriz Salazar smile but there is no genuine joy in their merriment, merely a certain satisfaction at the distress they have left in their wake. Their pleasures are simple; not toys or games, the harmless mischief of the town’s sons and daughters; instead, their playthings are human lives…
There must have been one thing that tipped you over to the dark side as they, what was it?
CS: On the contrary, I occasionally fear that some bizarre event may tempt me to the other side of darkness; and that simply will not do…I’ve no wish to join the herd, so to speak.
As a disgraced artist, does art sill hold a fascination for you?
CS: Art is merely a means to an end. Just as priests instructed the mob to learn their place via images placed inside churches, so I present my vision to the masses in the form of pictorial education. Evil I may be, but my works are as nothing to religious propaganda…and I speak as a believer.
It must be terribly tiring being evil all the time, do you ever stop to smell the roses, or admire a kitten?
CS: My kind could not exist without the help provided by you ‘good’ people. In fact, there are no charming interludes in my day-to-day existence, no moments when I’m simply sat by the fire reading a book, or stroking a pet, or any number of the tedious things your kind generally do. Instead, my kind don’t exist when you are not present; you grant us life courtesy of your imagination. It’s always been this way – you have your human weaknesses, the gaps within your rational selves which allow us entrance into this shabby realm…and we cannot resist playing our part. It is entertainment for us.
Life is never a simple case of black and white, good or evil, where do you see yourself on the spectrum of evil?
CS: Well, I don’t like to boast but…I am off the scale. I am constrained by nothing, and I certainly have no superiors. Oh well, I couldn’t resist bragging after all. In any case, I will always be a mystery to you…because you are a mystery to yourself.
What’s it like being a “father” to a ghost?
CS: I suppose I should be proud, joyful, and overwhelmed with all the symptoms of sentimental idiocy. Instead I feel nothing for Alatiel except envy – in some ways, I wish I possessed her allure, her peerless powers of seduction. However, she is nothing but my assassin, a hired killer as it were. She is the bane and downfall of my enemies, so I guess I should be grateful, after a fashion.
Who are you opposing and why?
CS: I cannot tell of my reasoning – you would never comprehend it – but I will say this: I oppose all who slight me, all those who obstruct my progress, all who deny me; in short, the entire human race.
What it is you plan once you have reached your goal?
CS: A world consisting of myself, merely. If I can adopt the thinking of human beings for one moment: this is everything a human child longs for – this universe of self-sasifaction – and we never truly grow up…so I am little different to your kind, after all.
Do you have any regrets?
CS: Only the betrayal of those I considered allies. I regret their poor choices, but I seldom miss such fools.
What would your mother think of all this?
CS: Oh, she would have approved, no doubt. I will have to ask her, the next time I speak to the dead.
That’s great, but haven’t you heard the good guy always wins?
CS: Not in mystory, not if I have my way; and I always do.
THE PORTRAIT OF ALATIEL SALAZAR – WINNER OF THE READER’S CHOICE AWARD FOR HORROR, 2012. PREMISE:
When Gabriel Holland’s beloved Helena vanishes from his life, he journeys to the home of disgraced artist Cristian Salazar, the man he holds responsible for her disappearance and the death of several friends. Once in the town of Carliton, Gabriel finds only malice and mystery in the tales told by the few brave enough to speak ill of Salazar and the sinister Cousin Beatriz. And within shadows, in the guise of night, walks Alatiel, the creature Helena has become…
Steven Katriel writes Gothic Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, and Literary Fiction. He has lived in Wales, UK all his life. In recent years, he wrote history articles for a community magazine. Steve’s literary heroes and heroines range from Oscar Wilde to Hilary Mantel. He has a passion for past times and this is reflected in his writing.
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