Dauntless Inspirations - A Guest Post by Dina Sleiman

Photo of author Dina Sleiman
Photo courtesy of Silly Little Sparrow
Today, I'm pleased to welcome author Dina Sleiman to The Artist Librarian!  I first came across her blog earlier this year and I've been anticipating her debut Young Adult novel, Dauntless, ever since.  I'll let her tell you more about some of her inspirations for Dauntless and other upcoming books.  The floor --well, blog post-- is all yours, Dina!

Hello and thanks for having me today. I would like to share with you about my YA inspirational medieval adventure/romance series. Yeah, that’s a lot of adjectives. LOL. This series is pretty unique, especially in the Christian market, and so requires quite a bit of description. But let me start by sharing a little of how it came about. A few summers ago I saw a picture of a female knight, strong and courageous, bold and valiant, and I realized that somewhere in my many years of marriage and raising children, I had lost my fight. And you know what: I wanted it back!

[The Artist Librarian: I'll be commenting in these brackets. *grin* When I was a teen, it seemed like the majority of Christian YA fic were contemporary, like Melody Carlson's work.  It's great to see that over the past 10 years especially, we've been getting more genre fiction {fantasy, historical, sci-fi, speculative, etc.} It's really exciting!  As I said in my Waiting on Wednesday post, there can never be too many Christian medieval fiction in the world.]  ;-)

Picture of BBC's Robin Hood - Marian and Robin Hood
BBC's Maid Marian and Robin Hood
 Meanwhile, I had been considering trying my hand at a young adult medieval romance series for several years, but I didn’t have a strong idea. Quite a few more months would pass before everything came together for me. I was walking and praying about a series concept, when the BBC’s new Robin Hood came to mind with its bold Maid Marian who is a crusader for the poor in her own right, its female Djaq, and its tough villainesses. That’s when it hit me. Put strong, young medieval women in legendary male roles, et voila, my Valiant Hearts Series was born.

Picture of BBC's Robin Hood - Djaq and Will   
BBC's Djaq and Will

[How neat!  Added some photos from the show --totally got distracted by their costumes.  It's gorgeous!  Any of you watched BBC's Robin Hood?  It's one I've had my eye on for several years, but never got around to watching ... Funny you mentioned a female Djaq --I recently saw a play that cast an actress in the role as well!]

I’m so thankful for this opportunity to create strong and courageous role models for young women. I feel that all too often Christian girls are sent mixed messages. “You can be whatever you want to be, but you should be…” (insert small box of your denominational choosing here.) I want to inspire young women to be all that they can be and empower them to reach their full potential in Christ.

“What is a Valiant Heart heroine?” you might ask. A young woman who is both feminine and strong, vulnerable and tough, gentle and passionate. She is fearless, intelligent, and full of life. A heroine who contains within her both the tender beauty of a blossoming flower and the fierceness of a lioness. One who uniquely reflects her creator God and is willing to pursue her dreams with all her heart. A woman who is open to love, but not defined by a man.

[That's a great goal, Dina!  I think that balance is important --until recently in media, it seemed like it was one extreme or the other: a "damsel in distress" waiting for Prince Charming (or having to be rescued) or a "kick-butt" heroine who doesn't need or want a guy.]

Photo of Dauntless by Dina Sleiman
(c.) 2015 Bethany House
Each book in the Valiant Hearts Series will feature a strong, young medieval woman in a traditionally male role as she lives out a story of adventure, romance, and faith. The series is geared toward teens, but will appeal to adults as well.

Shown above [left] is Merry Ellison, my heroine for the Robin Hood inspired Dauntless. Merry will go to any length to save the outlawed children of Ellsworth from the treacherous King John. Dauntless* is available now online, as an ebook, and in local bookstores.

[Robin Hood is a legend I'm not quite as familiar with, but I love this book cover --definitely one of my favorites from the year thus far!  To be fair, archer heroines/heroes have a soft spot in my heart, ever since Jill Pole, Susan and Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia. Katniss Everdeen is the most recent addition to my list --I'm sure Merry will be as well!]

Photo of Chivalrous by Dina Sleiman
(c.) 2015 Bethany House
BBC's Merlin, Series 3 scene: Morgause revealed
Morgause (c.) BBC

In book 2, Chivalrous, Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight, but such cannot be her fate, even in the Camelot inspired region where she dwells. Meanwhile, her father intends to use her as a marriage pawn. In this story that flips the Lancelot/Guinevere legend on its head, Gwendolyn struggles with issues of gender and worth as well as her faith in God. Chivalrous* is available for pre-order online and will release in September.

[September?  Awesome --I didn't realize it would release so soon! A girl in chainmail is definitely an eye-catching book cover!  When I first saw this image, I immediately thought of this scene from BBC's Merlin.  What do you think?]

My heroine Rosalind for book 3 (working title Relentless) has a role in book 2 as well. I'm picturing Katie McGrath from the series Merlin. She serves as Gwendolyn's handmaid in book 2, but in book 3 she will face her own adventure as she goes on crusade in search of redemption. I just started writing this one, and it will be fun to see where this story takes me.

BBC's Merlin, series 2, Morgana
Lady Morgana (Katie McGrath) (c.) BBC
[Katie McGrath is one of my favorite Irish actresses, so good choice!  I love BBC's Merlin ... so much so, that I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the final season, even though I have the DVD season set.  I just don't want it to be over ... Is that weird? Also, it's kind of fun that in Merlin, Guinevere is the servant to Katie McGrath's character while in your books, it will be the other way around!]  =)

And I have ideas for more: pirates, body guards, spies, even a quest!

[Ah, off the top of my head, I can't think of more than one Christian YA series for each of those topics --I say "go for it!"  Especially quests ... Brian Jacques' Tales of Redwall made me fall in love with quests.]  ^_^

I hope you will consider giving my Valiant Hearts Series a try, or perhaps purchasing it for some special young woman in your life! And please join me on my Valiant Hearts blog to stay in touch.

[Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing about your books, Dina!]

About Dina Sleiman:
Dina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Also look for her novels, Love in Three-Quarter Time, Dance from Deep Within, and her Valiant Hearts series with Bethany House Publishers. Dina serves as an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire Publishing as well, and she loves to teach at writers conferences throughout the US.
* = Affiliate link: See more details on my policy here.

Dauntless Inspirations - A Guest Post by Dina Sleiman Dauntless Inspirations - A Guest Post by Dina Sleiman Reviewed by The Artist Librarian on 3/09/2015 09:42:00 PM Rating: 5


  1. Duantless is next in my TBR pile. I had actually never heard of it but my dad picked it out and mailed it to me because I was having a stressful week. It looks great and I can't wait to read it!

    1. Aw, that's so thoughtful of your dad! =) I'm waiting for my copy to arrive (it's probably a good thing, since I have a lot of school assignments I need to get finishing before spring break)!

    2. That's actually really exciting for me to hear, Brittany. This is my first book to actually make it to book stores, so I've been waiting for those sorts of stories.

  2. That picture of Morgause you used was actually the picture Bethany sent me to see if they were on the right track with their idea. I didn't even realize it was from Merlin. I only watched like the first five episodes. I was enjoying it, but the school year started and my son got busy and we didn't get back to it.

    1. How neat! Yeah, Morgause doesn't show up until series/season 3. I can definitely relate to that though! My youngest brother and I have wanted to start watching Doctor Who for a year or so, but it's been hard for us to coordinate our schedules during the school year. =)

  3. The idea is brilliant! Can't wait to read Dauntless!!

    1. Thanks Sara! I hope you enjoy Dauntless as much as I did! =)


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