I'm so happy to have Sheila Deeth on my blog today. She's here to give you some background on the character, Siobhan from "Passage" in the "Hero's Best Friend" Anthology.
Siobhan (pronounced Sh’Von) has been haunting my dreams now for quite a while. She’s one of a group of four teenagers who learned not just to haunt dreams, but also how to make their dreams come true. Just little dreams, like turning obnoxious classmates into temporary frogs and dumping them in the mud; nothing serious, except for those witches and wizards now going to war over the kids’ allegiance. But where did these teenagers’ powers come from?
When Seventh Star Press invited submissions to the Hero’s Best Friend anthology, and a friend loaned me a book about emigrants from Ireland, I suddenly knew I had to write about Siobhan’s ancestors as well as her friends. After all, Siobhan’s a wonderful Irish name (it means “God is gracious” and comes from the same root as Joan of Arc). If Siobhan’s a hero, her ancestors must be too. And if an ancestor had a cat, well, Passage, in Hero’s Best Friend, is the story it would tell.
Meanwhile, in case you’re interested, here’s the story of how Siobhan first learned about her powers. It comes partway through the first Book of Hemlock.
That night, Siobhan dreamed the dream again, all her desperate recitations of herb lists powerless to hold it away. Branches tore at her arms, old scratches stinging against the new. Lungs grew sore with the cold night air and fog, and she tired from the chase. The wicked witch had Siobhan’s thin wrist clasped in her skeletal hand, cold circulation constrained with iron on ice. And now her captor held out the cup again, hemlock tea, steaming musk, viscous red fluid with its precious hint of poison. The witch smiled virtuous innocence, white diamond eyes like fire.
This was where she should wake, Siobhan knew. She screwed her eyes up tight. But this cold night no voices called her back, and the chalice’s dark warmth became her only solace. She cupped her hands around it, raised its rim to her nose, and inhaled bitter sloth. Sleep—sweet, salted, earthy—she hadn’t expected this to smell like stale spaghetti sauce. But she hadn’t expected to still be sleeping; should have screamed herself awake.
Slowly Siobhan touched her mouth to edge of the cup. It tipped, warm wetness brushing against the seal of tightly closed lips. She clamped her jaws against the trickle of liquid on her chin. But a wider stream rolled in over her tongue, raising bile in the back of her throat. She tried not to swallow, but her mouth was filled, her nose struggling for air, her tonsils seizing in sudden, spastic swelling, and it was too late.
Power and pain—a gushing gurgle rushed from Siobhan’s clenched lips to the depths of her stomach, burning like fire. Eyes closed, she imagined her chemistry class—heat this, boil that, burn the other, mix them up and separate. But were her eyes still closed in sleep or wide in fear and awake? She held the imaginary test-tube high, examined its contents’ molecules, matched them under the remembered microscope, twisted, turned, repeated, all the while reciting lists of herbs and properties.
Biology; genetics maybe? A grain of this, a pinch of that to tweak the DNA; bind proteins; turn the poison into health. Remembered writing gave the formulae. Then the page dissolved.
The dream witch screamed wild impotent rage, her face red from the drink’s reflection. Crimson filled Siobhan’s shifting gaze, blazing through the darkness of her storm, until only two pure spots of white remained, witch-eyes watching her.
Then her mother called, “Siobhan! Are you all right?”
“Yes Mom.” She tangled her legs under the sheets, wondering why her mother’s voice hadn’t called her back earlier. But her body felt oddly light, almost relaxed, and unafraid. “It was just another bad dream,” she said. “Sort of. Sorry I woke you.”
“And you won?”
Siobhan tried to sit up, but the blankets held too tight. “Won what?” she asked.
Then her mother’s face leaned closer, split by a beaming wide smile. “You beat them, didn’t you? You’re one of us!”
“I’m one of what?”
Thank you for inviting me to your blog Sapphyria, and I hope you enjoyed meeting Siobhan.
How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too!
Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice-from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long.
Whether you're a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you!
So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero's Best Friend.
Featured in Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions:
Joy Ward: "Toby and Steve Save the World"
Frank Creed: "Dusk"
Cassie Schau: "The Hunter's Boy"
Steven Donahue: "Grit"
Jason Cordova: "Hill 142"
Herika R. Raymer: "Dook"..
Essel Pratt: "Brothers".
Lisa Hawkridge: "Ezra's Girl".
S. H. Roddey: "Look What the Cat Dragged In."
Steven S. Long: "The Wolf Sentinel"
Laura Anne Ewald: "Memorandum"
Cindy Koepp: "The Hat".
Ian Hunter: "Scarheid in the Glisting".
Steven Grassie: "The Masterless".
David Wright: "Wind of Change"
Renee Carter Hall: "The Emerald Mage"..
Nick Bryan: "The Violet Curse"..
Lillian Csernica & Kevin Andrew Murphy:
"The Restless Armadillo".
Douglas J. Ogurek: "Stuck on the Squigglybounce"
Sheila Deeth: "Passage"
Amazon Purchase Link:
About the Editor:
Scott M. Sandridge is a writer, editor, freedom fighter, and all-around trouble-maker. His latest works as an editor include the Seventh Star Press anthologies Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, and the two volumes of A Chimerical World, Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court.
Find Scott Online: