About the Book
Defiance was released in November of 2009 from Drollerie Press. Laura Anne Gilman, Joely Sue Burkhart, and I take you back to the days of the Civil War with ministering angels, magical creatures, and death. Each of the women in these stories refuses to take on the role she’s been assigned by birth, race, or circumstance. Each woman demonstrates life changing defiance.
Laura Anne Gilman’s story “Finder’s Keeper” features a young woman with an unusual gift: the finding of things that are lost. When her gift leads her to a wounded Confederate soldier fallen on the battlefield, though, she finds along with him truths about herself.
My own story “The Blood of the Land” is set in the same universe as Faerie Blood, and tells the tale of the slave woman Dorcas and her beloved Caleb, escaping across the wilderness of Kentucky. Dorcas has a strange healing gift that drives the son of her former master to pursue her–but she doesn’t have the only power in the world. The first contacts they make on the Underground Railroad have magic of their own.
In “Storms As She Walks”, Joely Sue Burkhart weaves the tale of a young Native American woman disguised as a man on one of the “colored” regiments in the Union army, and how she must risk revealing her true gender, her strange gifts, and her growing love for her captain to defend her people.
Excerpt from “The Blood of the Land”
“Fall back to the house!” called the last voice that had shouted, harsh with the crispness of command. “Damn all your eyes, I said fall back!”
The voices and the tramping of feet faded then into the distant trees. Dorcas hauled in five gasping breaths, and then pulled hard at Caleb. “Come on! The way‘s clear!”
“Need those provisions if nothing else,” he muttered, all the breath he spared as they bolted together towards their goal. He didn‘t otherwise argue and she loved him for it. If that thought was enough to keep him moving while the tug of the Power propelled her, she‘d accept it and be glad.
But when they reached the barn door they found a trail of something dark staining the ground. Dorcas could barely see it in the gloom, yet needed neither sight nor the metallic tang in her nostrils to tell her it was blood. The sudden scream through her nerves told her all she needed to know.
And when Caleb with trembling hands hauled open the barn door, they found the white man lying wounded inside. Dorcas sensed him even before they darted into the barn; though he lay unmoving, Power roiled around him so thickly that she could almost see and hear it. It had a voice of its own, and that voice keened of loss and agony. Behind her Caleb groaned, high and thin with fear. So did she. With this kind of Power awake in the air, it wasn‘t any wonder the men they‘d heard thought the woods were haunted. She wasn‘t entirely certain they were wrong.
Yet her own Power would not be denied, and it pulled her hands to the slack body lying on the rough dirt floor. She heard Caleb scrabbling in his pockets for the matches he‘d carried off during their escape, but by the time he had one lit she didn‘t need it. Her Power illumined the man she began to heal.
He wore a laborer‘s simple garb, and if the magic hadn‘t been on her that might have drawn her anyway—yet with the magic on her, Dorcas couldn‘t spare the strength to pay it any mind. As it was she noticed his disheveled brown hair and the sideburns that framed his thin face only because the shine from her hands, white as moonlight, rose up to show them to her. But they weren‘t important, not when a bullet in his shoulder shrieked against flesh and bone. Her magic screamed back, but before she could let it have its way, that bullet had to come out. It was a mercy that the man was unconscious, Dorcas thought grimly. He wouldn‘t be aware of what she was about to do.
Or would he? As she slapped a hand down upon his damaged flesh his eyes flew open, unveiling a near-black gaze gone vacant with something beyond pain. He writhed under Dorcas‘ touch, and with a strength a wounded man should not have possessed, he seized her hand and cried, “I walk in the valley of the shadow of death!”
She knew the Christian prayer, knew which words came before and which behind, yet Dorcas couldn‘t bring herself to utter them now. There was no comfort in the rod or the staff, not when they came down upon the shoulders of those like her. “Goodness and mercy shall follow me,” she said instead, praying all the while that she spoke the truth.
“Hold still, man. There‘s a bullet in you. I‘m taking it out.” The man trembled violently beneath her palm. Yet his eyes darted to her hand upon him, glowing with fractious Power straining for release, and then up to her face. His was chalk- pale, and if Dorcas hadn‘t felt living warmth in his flesh, she would have thought him a ghost. “Angel,” he whispered. “Angel of the Lord?”
Buy the book
Defiance is unfortunately no longer for sale since Drollerie Press closed. If you’d like to read my short story “The Blood of the Land”, I will happily hand-sell you a copy, and I ask 99 cents for it. The best way to pay me for it is via Paypal to my gmail address, annathepiper. Drop me a line on my Contact page if you’d like to buy the story! Watch my posts for updates on when I’ll be posting a version of it for direct sale as well!