Welcome to the Blessings Bloghop to celebrate Decadent Publishing’s Beyond Fairytales line! If you’d like to win a multi-pack of books, please visit each blog (links below) to find the blessings on every page.
The two main characters of Taliasman, Talia and Vina, are thankful for a multitude of reasons this year. But first and foremost, Talia is thankful for her:
Queen. Yes! It was not always so, however.
“Yes, my queen.” Instead of respect, this phrase signified anger between Talia, a nobody’s daughter, and Vina, queen of the heavenly realm.
Talia is a tough young woman who feels rejected by her parents, especially her mother. She has always felt that, if she had been a boy, her life and her parents’ lives would have been better. She has ambitions to work and earn like a man, but women are not allowed such activities. When her parents sell her to Vina, Talia feels only loathing for the woman who now dresses her in silk, offers her rich food, and shares her palace.
The next chapter gives us Vina’s story. Now we discover that Talia has a decided bias in her perception of things. In fact, we discover both women are skewing the story. I think the reader is meant to believe that Vina is the objective one because she is older, driving the story, and (as we soon discover) she’s supernatural. Nevertheless, I wasn’t inclined to believe Vina’s perception. Yes, Talia has a chip on her shoulder and acts with the distrust of a survivor, but Vina comes from a place of privilege. While she shows concern for the less fortunate, and we’re reminded of her generosity and disinterest in wealth, Vina remains oblivious to the machinations of several people who nearly ruin everything. She remains oblivious because she expects the same kind of agency from the poor and abused as from herself.
The second item that both Talia and Vina are thankful for is the:
Talisman. What is the talisman, you ask?
This gorgeous medallion (drawing by the ever-talented Minelle Labraun) with its mysterious past. The talisman brings Vina and Talia together, but they almost lose each other. Born into poverty and unwanted as a girl, Talia struggles to relate to Vina.
If I had been born a boy, I would have followed in my father’s footsteps to become a tradesman. Because I was a girl, he sold me instead.
“No,” Vina corrects me when I bring up the story, which is not often. She doesn’t like the facts, and I dislike her pretty lies. “Your mother agonized whether to let you go, but she knew you would be better off here. She wanted to give you a better life.”
I would call Vina on her mistruths, but she claims I still reason as a child. All of my protests to the contrary serve to prove her right, at least in her mind. Only when I agree with her does she admit I am a full-grown adult.
“You’re happy with me, aren’t you?” Vina makes me sit next to her at the formal dinners she hosts most nights, and she dresses me in rich silks with real lace. If I tell her “no,” she sends me to my room as punishment for my petulance. If I resist, she gives me one of her lessons in obedience. Some are painful, some pleasurable, and all serve to narrow my world and make me focus on her. How could I not, when she owns me?
“No,” Vina corrects me when I call her my owner. “I set you free, and I gave you the life you never could have had otherwise.”
When I turned nineteen, no one wanted to marry me. My mother fussed with my “hope chest,” if it could be called that, and arranged the one cotton handkerchief as if it could attract a suitor.
“Let me stay with you,” I entreated, and I won. I always did. The house needed new walls, and I wielded the power tools.
“You’ve turned her into such a tomboy no one will want her,” Mother chided Father, and the truth stung. I could have cared for my parents into their old age, but they wanted me gone.
This year, there are real-life Talias at Lost-N-Found Youth, a non-profit organization in Atlanta, Georgia, that serves LGBT homeless youth. Lost-N-Found provides housing, meals, support, and assistance to youth without homes. Approximately 40 authors, readers, editors, publishers, and I have teamed to create Something Good, a coalition to equip the youth with Kindles and LGBT ebooks. To date, we have raised funds and in-kind donations to provide 18 Kindles with protective cases and earphones.
Wouldn’t you like to share your blessing with a Talia today? Donations as small as $1 are accepted toward providing the Kindles and ebooks that will give the youth an advantage in networking, learning technology, completing basic education, and becoming employable in the job market.
(Special note: We need more lesfic, F/F, and transgender fiction, at special request from LNF.)
Born to a destitute woodworker who wanted a son to carry on the family business, Talia grew up with one phrase on her lips: “If I had been born a boy.” If she had been born a boy, she would have been cherished, supported, and launched into the world with her father’s legacy. As only a worthless girl, she toils all day long to earn her handful of inferior grain.
Far away in the heavenly palace, Queen Vina receives a mysterious coin necklace from Nicodemus, teller of stories. Compelled by the throbbing heartbeat, she scours the earth to come across Talia, enslaved to a family who never wanted her. Rather than admit her motives, Vina purchases the girl with a sack full of gold. Furious, betrayed, and homesick, Talia endeavors to share her misery with the entire palace. Vina, afraid to confess her love, allows herself to become trapped in the role of brutal slave owner.
Talia, bred to expect nothing but misery, faces the first choice of her life. Will she accept love, even if it comes from an unlikely source? Or will she reject the one who offers her everything?
A Beyond Fairytales Adaptation of Our Lady’s Child
Where to buy Taliasman: