A year and a half ago, I sat in a darkened movie theater watching Mad Max: Fury Road, quivering with adrenaline. A pregnant bride had just thrown open the door of a moving truck, her swollen body a shield to protect Furiosa during a chase scene. There was no hesitation. There was no quibbling about whether or not it was moral to put herself out there like that. She was not in need of rescue. She was bold, and brave, and she stole my breath away.
I’d never seen anything like it before in film, because frankly, nothing like Mad Max: Fury Road has existed before on this scale. Mad Max was almost ignorable in his own film, Tom Hardy overshadowed by Charlize’s fierce disabled woman. And the one-armed Furiosa was only the beginning! The supporting cast was made up of fierce pregnant women and fiercer old women. These are the characters Hollywood perennially forgets. These are the characters used to prop up other people’s stories. They’re sages or morality tales for a young, able-bodied, cis hetero protag to get to where they need to go in their story arc. They’re to be consulted, protected, possibly abused, and ultimately discarded when they’re no longer useful to the protagonist’s journey.
And yet Mad Max: Fury Road had happened. I’d witnessed it. It was beautiful.
Mind you, it wasn’t perfect—we were sorely lacking in fat rep, for example–but it was damned good and it did so many things I’d become too jaded to expect from the California movie machine. I left the theater overwhelmed and teary-eyed, so I went home and did what I do best, which is babble on Twitter until I could suss out my feelings. In front of an audience of X thousand people, I figured out how and why this movie resonated so much with me. And, like any fan-slash-artist, I plucked things from the experience to put into my toolbox for the future.
SNAKE EYES is the direct result of this experience. It is, at its core, a love letter to women. Strange women because lamia are not your standard fare, but women all the same. This book is unabashedly female and, because all authors insert themselves and their world views into fiction, it’s unabashedly queer. I’m the daughter of a queer man. I’m a bisexual woman. I was as tired of the tragedy porn surrounding queer narratives as I was of the mindset that women who weren’t in their twenties, white, and fucking a male protag were worthy of story arcs, so I set out to showcase strength and stability in a female partnership. Naree and Tanis aren’t perfect, but their relationship is full of love and loyalty despite mounting difficulties.
I’ve said since this story’s inception that it won’t be for everyone. It’s gruesome—I am a horror author first and foremost—it’s sexual, it’s a nearly all female cast. Some people, upon discovering that our protagonist Tanis is a half-snake woman with a penis (two, actually, because snakes have hemipenes) will recoil because they’re transphobic . Some people will assume it’s a feminist agenda book and recoil from that. Some people will label it a “queer” book like that somehow negates enjoyment factor for hetero readers. The reality is, it’s all of those things, but it’s also an intense adventure story steeped in the mythology I devoured when I was growing up. At the end of the day, all authors set out to write a good book. I like to think Tanis, Naree, Bernie and crew make for a very good book.
Snake Eyes by Hillary Monahan is available now from Abbadon. Keep up with the latest genre news with the new issue of SciFiNow.