What's happening in your writing life and mine; Book Updates and recommendations; The wonderful world of reading, writing, and everything in the middle.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
There's only ONE Melanie.
I've been getting a sneak preview of this. I hope you are too.
Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor's degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and she taught English in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her on the web at http://www.melaniedickerson.com/.
SDC: As my roommate last year at the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Conference and a dear friend, I’m excited, Melanie, to be able to share you with the world in the next few days. Fairy Tales do come true, I see. Tell us about yours, Melanie.
MD: Hi, Shirley! Thanks so much for having me on your blog! Long time no see! ;-)
The last year has been very much like a fairy tale! First there was the villain in the form of crushing rejections and a bleak outlook as far as this book was concerned. Then there was the “magical” meeting with my fairy godmother—I mean, my future agent—at the ACFW Conference last year. And I felt like Cinderella going to the ball just being at that conference, since I got a scholarship at the last minute! Then, just when I was beginning to despair again, I got the call in November saying Zondervan was going to publish my book! They pushed the wedding—I mean, the release date—up to September 3rd so that I could participate in the booksigning at this year’s ACFW Conference! Yes, it’s definitely been like a fairy tale dream come true!
SDC: I know you really went through a lot to find that perfect publisher for you, Melanie. What made you believe so strongly that you had a story worth picking up?
MD: I kept believing in this story, even after three years of trying to find a publisher, for lots of different reasons, but mainly it boiled down to the fact that this was my favorite story. I’d written four books, and although I love all my stories and characters, this was the one that just clicked when I was writing it. Everything seemed to fall into place so perfectly. The plot pieces fit together, the characters were so vivid to me, and I just loved it. I truly believed it was going to get published—eventually! And, this will sound weird to some people, but I felt like God had told me it was going to get published, and by a major publisher, although he never told me when!
SDC: What audience do you enjoy writing the most for, and why?
MD: I love writing for the young adult audience. They have very strong opinions about what they like and dislike, but they’re also so enthusiastic! They truly savor a story and characters, and it’s very satisfying when they “get” you!
SDC: I've been reading your brand new book and I can see where it fits almost anywhere! How realistic is your kind of writing? And what was the key to getting started and staying with it?
MD: I try to be completely realistic. Even though a lot of people have seen the cover of my book, read the back cover blurb and come to the conclusion that this book is a fantasy, it’s not. I believe everything that happens in my stories could have actually happened. I do lots of research and try to get all my facts right. And I try to make sure characters’ actions and feelings are justified, that that person would actually do that deed or say that line of dialogue in that situation, according to human nature and their personality and their past experiences, which have shaped them.
SDC: I think it's important to be ralistic too, or at least as much as one can be. How did you select your favorite characters in this story, Melanie? How would you do so in any story?
MD: The characters and the story usually evolve together. The story determines the characters, to some extent, and vice-versa. The character can change the story, but in my mind they are always meshing. I don’t know if that makes sense! But I like to have a heroine that I can truly like and sympathize with, and a hero who is truly heroic.
SDC: Why do you think it’s so important to write for a Christian Market? And do you believe your book would be well read by a secular audience as well?
MD: I love writing for the Christian market, but I would have also been happy if this book had been picked up by a secular publisher, as long as they would have allowed me the freedom to let my characters stay true to their faith in God.
I do believe my book will appeal to a secular audience. It appeals to fans of fairy tale retellings, and if my book happens to be the first Christian book they’ve read, I just hope they will be intrigued and will enjoy it.
SDC: I'm glad to hear that you are open to both. So many aren't for some reason. How does romance play a part in your book? And how did you deal with that?
MD: Romance is a major part of the plot. In fact, I didn’t realize I was a romance writer until I got the idea for this book! But the fact is, God invented romance, it’s a part of our lives, and young people, my target audience, will encounter it and will need to know how to be wise in that area. I wanted to show a healthy way to fall in love, and I wanted to show that you can’t always trust your feelings or your friends. You have to trust God and his plan for you. And, don’t go for the playboy who flirts but then isn’t committed. Marry the good guy who’s stable and loves God!
SDC: What kind of reading material do you look to that you believe helps you with your style of writing?
MD: You know, I don’t really think what a writer reads influences that writer’s style very much. I know a lot of people say it’s very important what you read, but it’s really hard to say where a person’s style comes from. I took a very long hiatus from reading fiction, and so when I started writing again, and started writing this book, I hadn’t read much popular fiction. When I was growing up I read so many classics, and read some secular romances as a teen, but did my style come from those influences? It’s probably impossible to say.
SDC: We are thrilled that you are willing to donate a copy of one of your books to one of our readers. Will you give us a short excerpt from your book to entice our interest?
MD: In this historical romance loosely based on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, a woodcutter's daughter becomes the town healer's apprentice. Rose's job is to care for the sick and injured in Hagenheim Castle. But she gets sick at the sight of blood and is more suited to making up stories than sewing up wounds. She is determined to overcome her weakness and prove herself a competent healer, or she faces marrying a disgusting old merchant her mother has picked out for her.
Lord Hamlin, the future ruler of the region, is injured and Rose must overcome her squeamishness to save him. He is everything that is noble and good, but loving him is forbidden. He is already betrothed to a mysterious woman in hiding. With two noble-born brothers vying for her affections, Rose learns that the people of Hagenheim are not always who they seem.
SDC: After you tell the readers where they can find your books and look you up, what question you would like one of our visitors to answer to help me select a winner?
Please find me at http://www.melaniedickerson.com/ and say hello! I have a lot of information there, including the wonderful book trailer Zondervan had made for my book. It’s like a little movie! Please check it out.
So, I want to hear from you. Have you ever had a dream come true, a goal you’ve worked for, or something you’ve dreamed of happening coming to fruition? Maybe it was getting married, or landing a dream job, or graduating from college. Do tell!
READERS: Be sure to answer Melanie’s question above to try to win a copy of her book! We're looking forward to hearing from you., And you DON'T want to miss out on this one!
Casey Herringshaw of Burns, Oregon, says she is thrilled and excited to have won a copy of Melanie's debut book. Congratulations, Casey. Be watching for it after Melanie returns from the conference.