When I was twelve years old, I walked up to the head librarian at my tiny town’s library. “I’ve read everything in there,” I told her sincerely, pointing over my shoulder at the children’s room. “What can I read now?”
“What do you like?” she asked.
“Fairy tales. Myth. Stories,” I answered, without hesitation.
She thought about it for a moment, considering me as she tapped her lip. I was a farmer’s daughter, dressed in patched jeans and a god-awful turtleneck, staring up at her with what I hoped was a deep fierceness. I wanted a direction. I was desperate for stories.
“Have you ever read fantasy?” she asked me, then, like I’d passed some test. She took me to the fantasy shelves—present in a much higher percentage than most tiny towns boast, because the librarian was obsessed with fantasy herself. She took books down from the rows and pressed them into my hands. Women with swords stared back at me. “I think you’ll like them,” the librarian grinned.
Because of that day, years ago, I grew up on a strict diet of almost 100% fantasy. Gael Baudino, Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Mercedes Lackey, Terry Pratchett …they were the gods of my youth. I checked out fifty books at a time from my library, read everything I could get my hands on, propped up in my little bedroom, kicking my feet against the wall in the late afternoon sunshine. I wanted to live in worlds where heroines saved themselves, wielded swords and magic just as strongly as their male counterparts. In these stories, women were smart and brave and funny and clever, and I loved all of them fiercely.
But there were no women like me in these stories.
I knew from the very beginning that I liked girls. It was an almost unconscious thing, at first, searching for a girl like me in the stories. I desperately wanted to be told through the thing I revered most—fiction—that I wasn’t weird or perverted or wrong. I wanted to be told by my beloved, worshipped authors that I existed. I’ll never forget the first time I read a gay character in one of Lackey’s books. I was thirteen. I cried for hours after I realized that he was, in fact, gay, because it was the first time I had ever seen someone like myself exist in literature.
Fantasy is my deepest and oldest root—it is my passion, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I set out to tell stories: I wanted to write the stories that I have always wished existed. I wanted to write stories about women who save themselves, and each other. I wanted to write magical romps, where exciting things happen and magic exists and beautiful creatures rise out of the water, shining. I wanted to write a world from the ground up, with a new mythology. I wanted to make the stories meaningful, and I wanted to add Pagan elements to any fantasy story I told, because there’s fantasy for every other religion.
I wanted to write a story about a woman like me, a woman who loves a woman, a woman like all of the amazing, heroic lesbians I’ve known.
I started writing The Benevolence Tales because I desperately wanted them to exist. It was the deepest labor of love I could imagine, and—somehow—it’s grown beyond that. Other people love these stories now, these characters. Other people have responded to the quest that existed so deeply in my bones, from the beginning: to tell this story the best way that I was able, with as much heart as I could give.
The Benevolence Tales were written for that little girl long ago in the library, arms full of paperback novels, staring up at the stacks with anticipation and hope that she’d find someone like her in the pages.
And now they’re written for you, and the circle is complete, the first volume is done…but the story is just beginning.
Thank you for wanting this as much as I did. <3
Enter the magical world of Isabella Fox, mediocre witch for hire, and Emily Deer, outcast shapeshifter, and the charming little town of Benevolence, where these two women-in-love make their home. The Benevolence Tales, Volume 1 is a compilation of the full first three novellas in the Benevolence Tales series:
ONE SOLSTICE NIGHT:
Isabella Fox has just moved to the charming little town of Benevolence. As the new village magicmaker, she’s expected to cast only one spell a year in the sleepy village–something not even she could mess up. When Isabella meets the mysterious outcast shapeshifter, Emily, love begins to grow between the two women, but the chill of winter forewarns that not all is well in Benevolence.
ONE IMBOLC GLOAMING:
When the winter festival of Imbolc draws near, Isabella makes preparations for her yearly pilgrimage to Lunarose Abbey, where she and her friends, since their Academy days, have always participated in the annual Imbolc play and kept candlelit vigil to the Rose Goddess. This year, Isabella asks Emily to come with her but warns her about the abbey’s odd quirks–like the fact that it’s haunted by a lovelorn ghost…
And ONE OSTARA SUNRISE:
Every year on Ostara, all the townsfolk of Benevolence journey to nearby Mirror Lake, where they peer into the depths of the waters to see a moment of happiness from their coming year. But the lake itself is not enchanted–the creature that descends from the mountaintop and blesses the lake is what gives it its magic. This year, for the first time in millennia, the creature has not come, and Isabella and Emily make the treacherous journey to the top of the mountain, the advent of spring and the end of winter hanging in the balance.
The Benevolence Tales, Volume 1 also includes a never-before-published short story featuring the origin of Isabella’s Familiar, Alice; an introduction by the author; and a few more enchanting extras!