Speak No Evil
by Liana Gardner
on Tour October 1 – November 30, 2019
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 …
Genre: YA Mystery
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Number of Pages: 285
ISBN: 1944109366 (ISBN13: 9781944109363)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
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.
Read an excerpt:
Uncle Harlan slammed my bedroom door open. “You’re going to learn to show the Lord respect, girl.” He grabbed my neck and forced me to walk in front of him.
My neck hurt where he dug his fingers in.
He took me outside and shoved me toward the shed. He slipped the key in the lock and removed it from the hasp. The door creaked as it opened and then he thrust me through.
“I’m not going to allow you to follow your mother’s footsteps. You’ll learn to make peace with snakes and not show them any fear. Or else.”
He grabbed a snake case from the shelf, put it on the ground, and opened it. He stepped backward out of the shed and swung the door shut. The latch clicked. Uncle Harlan on one side of the door, and the snake and me locked inside.
“I’ll come get you in time for school in the morning.”
His footsteps receded.
Light filtered through the cracks in the shed slats. In the dim light, the snake coiled in the corner, its tongue flicking out periodically. I slowly lowered to the ground and hugged Raksha Waya tight.
The inside of the shed was slightly warmer than outside. Staying warm might be a bigger problem than keeping the snake calm. It ignored me and remained coiled, but the cold seeped into my bones. I scanned the shelves. There had to be something in here I could use to help keep warm.
A tarp sat on a shelf on the opposite side of the shed from the snake. But I might not be tall enough to pull it down. Standing on tiptoes, I grabbed a corner and tugged. My fingers slipped. I set Rakkie on a lower shelf, then reached with both hands and tugged.
The weight of the tarp almost knocked me over as I caught it.
Making sure to keep my movements small so I didn’t threaten the snake, I unfolded the tarp and spread it out. Then I grabbed Rakkie and carefully crawled under a corner. Once settled with Rakkie on my lap, I pulled it over us and tucked it under my chin.
The hours passed as the light changed and moved through the shed. My tailbone ached and my back hurt from sitting still for so long. Twilight came. Surely Uncle Harlan didn’t really mean to leave me here with the snake all night.
When the darkness was complete and I could no longer see my hand in front of my face, I faced the hard truth—Uncle Harlan meant it. I’d spend the night locked in a small space with a pit viper.
While my toes still felt frozen, the rest of me was warmer with the tarp. My eyes drooped and closed. Then I heard it.
Hiss. Rattle. The whisper of something dragging across the floorboards.
The snake was on the move. The slight rattle as it slithered through the shed made my heart pound. I froze.
Excerpt from Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner. Copyright © 2019 by Liana Gardner. Reproduced with permission from Liana Gardner. All rights reserved.
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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.
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