Unexpected Dangers

Dangerous Women edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

Written by Brandon Sanderson

What makes a woman dangerous? Well, what makes a person dangerous?

To me, the best kind of danger—which is, in a way, also the worst kind—is unexpected. It’s that twisted kind of dangerous that takes something familiar and safe and reveals it as something deadly. Wolves are frightening. To me, a loyal pet going mad and killing a child is ten times more terrifying.

For the Dangerous Women anthology, I wanted to find a way to express this unexpected sort of danger. I didn’t want a lean, professional assassin or a warrior in her prime, dangerous though those characters might be. I wanted something closer to home, a blend of the expected and unexpected. That is where I found Silence Montane.

The first name is one I ran across while reading puritan names. It was the second piece of the puzzle, as it raised questions. Who names their daughter Silence, and what does it imply? What is it like to grow up with this name? The answers built into the concept of a stout pioneer woman who ran an inn on the frontier, drawing the seediest criminals the land had to offer. She’d then track them after they left her inn and murder them for their bounties.

Familiar, yet unexpected. Kindly, yet deadly. The story turned out better than I could have hoped, and I’m thrilled to have had the chance—and the prompting—to write it.

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