Monday, April 24, 2017

Strong Women in Speculative Fiction - Slither by Melody Steiner

All too often, the gender is a means of advertising whether a book or movie is going to be about control or helplessness. If it features a male, there’s a fair bet that they are controlled and competent. Everybody loves John McClain. Everybody loves when he says the empowering "Yippee ki-yay" line. Everybody loves the threat/promise of Terminator's "I'll be back." Or the slow burning threat of Inego Montoya as he searches for the six-fingered man.

What great lines do we remember from female characters? "Help me Obi-Wan-Kenobi, you're our only hope." "There's no place like home." My favorite empowered female one liner goes to Sigourney Weaver from the Alien franchise. Actually, a lot of lines from those movies. I kind of love them, the same way I love Xena.

The first "strong" female I remember seeing on TV was Xena, Warrior Princess. What made me connect to her was that I realized that if she'd been a man, the story would have been just as good. Her gender, frankly, was a bonus but not the main feature. And because it wasn't, that made it feel even more groundbreaking. Xena did what Xena did, and she did it well, with skill and drive.

In Slither as with my other novels, I’ve worked hard to create characters who aren’t helpless and waiting for some hero to save them. In time of trouble, they must pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get to fixing things. Yes, they can make friends and alliances who will help them when they need it. But, in Elanor’s words:

The ship won’t dock here, even if I send a smoke signal. If I want an end to my imprisonment, to the dragons, I will have to do it myself. The ships do not carry heroes. I am my only savior.

Melody Steiner

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Dragon Moon Press

Date of Publication: April 24, 2017

ISBN:  978-1-988256-59-7 
eISBN: 978-1-988256-60-3

Number of pages: 310

Cover Artist: Gwen Gades

Tagline: Her revenge is better served cold-blooded

Book Description:

Elanor of Onyx, enslaved by the dragons who scorched her kin and country, is determined to escape her island prison.

When the changeling dragon, Adom, demands that Elanor come with him to the mainland on a secret mission, she sees this the opportunity she’s been waiting for—a chance to exact her revenge. But when his actions take a surprising twist, Elanor begins to suspect that maybe things are not as they seem.

With a plot brewing against the mainland king, alliances are tested and Elanor discovers a secret that will forever change the way she views the slithering dragons—and herself.

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“Forgive me,” he says. “But when I say the word, you really should scream.”
That’s all the warning I need. If Adom wants me to scream, he wants the others to think he’s hurting me. He wants to send fear shuddering down their monstrous, twisted spines, to dry their mouths and shrivel the pits of their cavernous stomachs. He wants to show them that he is the king, the master of this mountain, the master of me.
Adom averts his gaze. “Scream.”
In the seconds it takes him to morph from human to dragon, his chest expanding, scales popping out of his skin like boils, I’m already at the door. I scream, just as he asks me to.

The full blast of flame doesn’t hit me, but it’s enough heat to sting my lower back. Good thing I tied my hair this morning—he misses singeing it off by a few inches. The monstrous roar he releases bursts a decanter on the table. The mirror cracks. But the fire inside me has nothing to do with Adom’s monster, and everything to do with my own. Only mine burns for revenge.

About the Author

Melody Steiner is a novelist, librarian, warrior woman, and a mother. She grew up in a home where science fiction and fantasy were staples of the imagination. Her earliest novels were written in elementary school and involved rocket ships to the moon, alien life, and gumdrop kingdoms at war with other invading candy nations. Over the years, she found herself drawn to fantasy stories that empower female characters and particularly women of color. Currently, she’s based near Columbus, Ohio, along with her husband and the wild things they call “children.”

Her recent work, Slither, is a traditional fantasy about a young woman who is enslaved by a herd of dragons.

You can find her at

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