LibertyCon is always one of my favorite weekends of the year. For one thing, it’s held in Chattanooga, TN, which is also home to the Hot Chocolatier and McKay’s Used Media Store, two of my favorite places in the universe. For another, it offers an opportunity to discuss the ins and outs of science fiction and fantasy with like-minded souls, without the often confusing sprawl of DragonCon (which I also love, I hasten to point out). Finally, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company always finds an appreciative audience there. This year, on Saturday night, 6/27, we performed The Passion of Frankenstein, Thomas Fuller’s stirring adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic novel. On Sunday morning, 6/28, we held a “table reading” which featured performances of H. Beam Piper’s “Crossroads of Destiny,” Isaac Asimov’s “Liar” (in which I had the privilege of playing Susan Calvin), and a chapter from The Nightmare Lullaby, a forthcoming novel by new author Nan Monroe — yours truly. My gratitude for this honor is boundless.
This adaptation of Chapter 11 is the first public introduction to a new story and to a protagonist, Meliroc, for whom I have special affection. I have always had a soft spot for “gentle giant” characters like Fezzik from The Princess Bride and Hagrid from the Harry Potter series. Yet they always seem to be male. The Literature link on TV Tropes’ page devoted to the Gentle Giant even points out the rarity of female examples. When I note such a gap, I try to consider how I might fill it, so I chose to write Meliroc as a formidable eight feet tall. She is not always gentle. She has a bitter streak, and pretty valid reasons for it. Yet her first act is to save a tiny man from freezing in a snow-drift, and her foremost ambition throughout most of the story is to find a series of songs that will release an undead wraith from the hold of his enchanted musical instrument. Because she sees herself, and imagines others see her, as a monster, she can feel compassion where most would feel dread, and is willing to put her emotional health at risk to discover the last song, as we learn in the table reading.
Here is the video, courtesy of my wonderful husband, Matt Ceccato. Alicia Cole performs Meliroc as narrator. Liz Schroeder performs her as the character living the events. Bob Brown performs Cedelair, the sorcerer Meliroc is geas-bound to serve. I give the introduction. Also present at the table is David Benedict, ARTC’s co-director, without whose tireless efforts ARTC could accomplish nothing.