First among my favorite portrayals is the character of Efrain Peralta. He is the sole remaining parent of the heroine, Esperanza. Efrain once served as personal physician to the princely household of Alfonso de la Cerda. Now disgraced and hiding a personal shame he cannot reveal to his daughter, he ventures into a new life, unaware of the peril awaiting him and his beloved child.
Actor Jordi Mollà Perales, whom I last saw as King Philip II of Spain in The Golden Age with Cate Blanchett, hails from Barcelona. When I imagined the character of Esperanza's father, he had to be a somber man respected and loved by his only daughter, with a hint of some secret torture hidden behind his eyes. There's something very enigmatic in Mollà's features that evokes the exact image of Efrain Peralta that I've had in mind for years. Here's how I describe the character in the first chapter of Sultana: Two Sisters.
A sinewy ragged man, Efrain Peralta stood a little above the diminutive height of his daughter. The evening glare framing him, he strode toward her. The spurs worn with his zapatos drew furrows across the soil. The dusty tips of the shoes peeked from beneath the hem of his mantle. Lines etched in his olive-brown features betrayed a year’s worth of misfortune and grave concerns of which he would not speak. The dark brown hairs atop his head had lost their luster and begun a steady retreat from his gently sloping forehead. A full beard with myriad flecks of gray almost hid the creases around his mouth. At fifty-six years old, his gnarled fingers and spindly arms coupled with the receding hairline gave him the appearance of a man burdened by age. His prideful gait, the crystalline glimmer in the depths of his eyes and a commanding tone hinted at the strength he retained.
The scenes between Esperanza and her father are brief, requiring brevity for the portrayal of a father's pride and love for his daughter. In the first chapter, Efrain must protect his child from danger in the only way he can, by imbuing her with the strength that has helped him survive personal demons up until this point. It's a mix of determination and tenderness that I hope readers will find satisfying.
Look for more each month on the characters of Sultana: Two Sisters through the coming weeks.