First, Heroines of Fantasy now has a Forthcoming Titles Page. So, in addition to seeing our current novels (whose links are also listed on the right hand side bar), you can have a sneak preview of titles to be published in the not-so-distant future. At the moment, Terri-Lynne DeFino's A Time Never Lived, scheduled for release in summer 2012, is listed. Additional forthcoming titles from Kim Vandervort and me will be added as pitches and preliminary cover art become available.
This week, Terri-Lynne DeFino, Kim Vandervort and I will all be attending the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego, California. As part of the kick off events, I will be at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore for an informal Meet and Greet the Authors event on Wednesday, October 26, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Terri, Kim and I all have panels scheduled; to find out when and where please check out the Program Schedule for World Fantasy. Finally, we will be at the mass autograph session on Friday, October 29, from 8pm to 11pm. This is going to be a fantastic event, featuring all the authors at World Fantasy, including an impressive roster of Hadley Rille authors. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
Those are the announcements for this week. Onto our guest post.
SHAPERS' VEIL, recently released by Hadley Rille Books. SHAPERS' VEIL is the story of Kawi, a hawk with the power to assume human form. In addition to boasting stunningly poetic prose, SHAPER'S VEIL features a unique approach to the traditional magic of shapeshifting: The "power" of changing shape depends on microscopic parasitic organisms called "Shapers". This makes Chambers work a compelling blend of fantasy and science fiction, and a must read for fans of both genres.
M.C. Chambers has also published science fiction short stories, including two in anthologies published by Hadley Rille Books. She earned her first college degree in music, her second in computer science. In addition to writing, she plays flute, programs databases, belly dances and walks in the wind. She lives in Missouri with her husband, several of her sons, two cats and a cockatiel.
Please welcome M.C. Chambers, and join us in a discussion of the Matriarch.
Some years ago I asked several women whom I admired what the word matriarch meant to them. Each of them named her own grandmother, and described how inspiring and influential she had been. Two things interested me by the responses: one, no one mentioned queens, politicians or world leaders, and two, it was not mothers but grandmothers who were given the title.
In mythology, a grandmother is an Elder, a wise woman, who protects and teaches the young. I’m thinking now of grandmothers I have read about in fantasy. I remember wise and regal Galadriel, Arwen’s grandmother in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I remember the completely not regal but equally wise Nanny Ogg, an ancient, powerful and daffy sorceress who is also progenitor of half the county, from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
Thinking of the mothers portrayed in stories, I remember many unsavory characters. In fairy tales, the good mothers die and evil stepmothers take their places. The mothers Dara and Jasra in Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber are protective but ultimately manipulative power-seekers: matriarch wannabees hoping to rule through their sons, except that these strong, ambitious women raised strong, ambitious sons who thwarted them. But some mothers in spec fic are noble in their protectiveness: Sarah Conner from the Terminator movies and Helen Parr, “Elastigirl”, from The Incredibles.
When writing my novel Shapers’ Veil, I wanted my heroine Gydana to be not just a strong character who is female, but a character who is strong because she is female. The sword-wielding warrior women I had been seeing more and more of in fantasy did not resonate with me. I wanted to write of a woman who was like women I actually knew. I wanted to write of a mother.
Gydana, like Demeter without Persephone, is a mother who has lost a child and has withdrawn from the greater world. Yet she remains maternally adoptive. Just as a nursing dog will adopt a piglet or a tiger cub, Gydana takes all manner of creatures under her wing - including the shape-shifter who pulls her into her quest. She is close to nature, having learned where to find and how to use the plants and waters and heat that her world provides. This knowledge is her defense and her weapon. She understands the nature of things, and understands her strange companions, adversaries, dreams and the hungry force that threatens all life as part of all nature. Understanding them, she grows in her journey first to acceptance, then to mastery. She rejoins the greater world as an Elder, a titular Grandmother.
The grandmothers described to me by my friends were not rulers in the political sense. To some eyes, they may even have seemed ordinary women. Their true mastery lay in their understanding of life, and their ability and willingness to pass the legacy of their knowledge to their children’s children. This is what gave them power and influence. This is what made them Matriarchs.