What if every time you told the truth, evil followed?
My name is Melody Fisher. My daddy was a snake handler in Appalachia until Mama died. Though years have passed, I can still hear the rattle before the strike that took her from me.
And it’s all my fault.
Since then, I’ve been passed around from foster home to foster home. I didn’t think anything could be as bad as losing Mama.
I was wrong.
But I will not speak of things people have done to me. Every time I do, worse evil follows. Now, the only thing I trust is what saved me years ago.
Back when I would sing the snakes calm …
Liana Gardner is the multi-award-winning author of 7th Grade Revolution (most recently the recipient of a 2018 Nautilus Book Award) and The Journal of Angela Ashby. The daughter of a rocket scientist and an artist, Liana combines the traits of both into a quirky yet pragmatic writer and in everything sees the story lurking beneath the surface.
Liana volunteers with high school students through EXP (expfuture.org). EXP unites business people and educators to prepare students for a meaningful place in the world of tomorrow. Working in partnership with industry and educators, EXP helps young people EXPerience, EXPand, and EXPlore.
Engaged in a battle against leukemia and lymphoma, Liana spends much of her time at home, but her imagination takes her wherever she wants to go.
Liana is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Showcase, The Good and the Ugly in Speak No Evil
While working on a book, I become intensely involved with the characters and experience their highs and lows right alongside them. With Speak No Evil, the main character, Melody Fisher, went through so many heartbreaking experiences, my heart bled for her from start to finish. But rather than go on and on about Melody, I’d like to share one of my favorite secondary characters who surprised me during the writing process.
After losing her parents, Melody went to live with Quatie Raincrow, a spiritual counselor, on the Cherokee reservation. Though my initial thought was that Quatie would be a minor character, she quickly proved me wrong. From the very start she captured my heart with her gentle, unassuming warmth and care for Melody.
Quatie Raincrow embodies unconditional love and acceptance. She instinctively cuts through the walls we all put up and sees the need underneath, and quietly does what is necessary to fulfill that need. For Melody, she is the safe haven she needs after traumatic events, and becomes the family she had lost. For me, she unexpectedly provided the balm for my soul when going through some turbulent times in my personal life. She transcended the page and helped ground and center me, and reawakened my love of nature.
She lives a simple life, unfettered by materialism, but at the same time she is richly fulfilled. She provides Melody with the basis for inner strength that carries her through some truly horrible situations. In context of the story, she provides a necessary time of healing for Melody. And through the healing helps her find her gifts and strengths.
Throughout the book little nuggets of wisdom from Quatie pop up. My favorite is, “You will never learn to fly if you let someone else carry your wings.” Using the “roots and wings” analogy, our wings are used when we step outside our comfort zone. But so often we hand those wings over to fear, or allow obstacles in our path to take them from us. How much of life as we should be living do we miss out on because we’ve let someone else carry our wings?
When it comes to characters I dislike in Speak No Evil, I’m a bit spoiled for choice. Her uncle Harlan is a nasty piece of work, and don’t even get me started on Wade Hatchet … but the character I truly disliked working with was Grady Jackson. Every scene with Grady I had to deal with the palpable hatred emanating from the character.
Why is Grady worse than Harlan or Hatchet? Most of the time I find at least a sliver of a redeemable quality in an unsavory character, but not this time. With Harlan, his background and the differing treatment he received than his sister drove his anger. Not an excuse, but at least some room for empathy. Hatchet on the other hand is a sick individual. It’s not a justification for his actions, but though he twists his guilt into justification for those actions, the guilt is still there. He is conflicted by his religious beliefs and his actions and he needs help.
With Grady, I never got close enough to him to know what drove his anger and hatred because his darkness was so aggressive. I had to take breaks after every scene containing Grady Jackson. His wife fears him, he bullies everyone around him, he is racist, and basically ignorant of any common decency. Besides, he did something to Melody I will never forgive or forget. Writing the scene made me physically ill, as did every editing round.
To say I don’t like snakes is putting it mildly. Snakes are the stuff of nightmares—I don’t like seeing a picture or video of them. But in the course of the story, Melody finds a rattler who is suffering from blister disease, which is when a snake has blisters full of pus and blood on its belly. She captures the snake to nurse it back to health. Before it has fully healed, her foster brother, Boyd Jackson, steals the snake to torture it.
Melody tracks him down and tries to stop him from hurting the snake any further. Grady shows up and kills the snake. I could live with that if the incident stopped there, but when Melody returns to the house for lunch, she is served fried snake. When she refuses to eat, Grady force feeds her. Shudder. It still makes me sick to think about it.
A reprehensible action that I have no forgiveness for and makes Grady the worst character I’ve dealt with so far.
Thanks to CMash Reads for hosting Speak No Evil today and allowing me to share some of the best and worst characters in the novel.
Catch Up With Liana Gardner On:
lianagardner.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!
Read an excerpt:
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Enter To Win!:
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Vesuvian Books and Liana Gardner. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and 2 winners of a signed print copy of Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner. The giveaway begins on October 1, 2019 and runs through December 2, 2019. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.