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

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  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.


  1. I have been following The Healer's Apprentice for a good while. It looks fresh and different, and I'm eager to read it soon. Congratulations on being published, Melanie, and best wishes on your future writing.

    My "dream come true" would have to be the surprise my church gave me when I retired a few years ago. I have been drawn to The Brooklyn Tabernacle and Pastor Cymbala's ministry after reading Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire - and I was given a trip to NYC to attend a music conference at The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Sunday morning worship at that church gave me a small taste of what worship in heaven must be like, and singing with the choir was an incredible experience.

    Thank you for the chance to win Melanie's book.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

  2. I SO want to read this book. It is near the top of my wish list. :D

    Hmm, I don't think I have had a dream come true yet... I would love to be published, and that is definately a dream. And finding the man of my dreams and living out my own love story. :)


  3. During the five years after I became a Christian, I had two dreams in which my brother was saved. The dreams kept me praying for him. I still remember the shock and delight when I heard the news that he'd prayed to receive Christ five years after I did.

  4. Oh, Carole, your story gave me chills! How awesome to get to be there for that worship experience, and all because of your church family and their love for you! I love it!

    God bless you!

  5. Casey, praying for your dreams to come true! I got married when I was 26 and the wedding day was definitely a dream come true! And as for getting published, just remember, if you don't need God to make your dreams come true, you're not dreaming big enough! So keep dreaming big! Nothing is impossible with God! :-)

  6. Ann! That's so awesome! What a great sister you are to love your brother that much. I know you were praising God when you found out! Yay God!

  7. Oops! Typo mistake in the interview! I should have said, the fairy tale meeting with my future EDITOR--not agent--at last year's conference. *Blushing*

  8. My one dream I really want to come true is to be married and have a family. But God has blessed me as I wait with a great church and by opportunities to use my time for His works.

  9. I a currently a sophomore in college, and but before this I switched my major about 7 times. It was so frustrating because I felt like I would never be satisfied with one career oath. Now however, I am pursuing an information systems B.S. and a library science Master's and I have never felt more peaceful :) I'm so glad that I have come to a school I fit in well and can explore my pursuits!

    Looking forward to your book :D


  10. My "dream come true" would have to be marrying my husband. In my plan, I was going to finish Bible College, get married by 22 and start a family by 25. I wonder how often God looks at my plan and shakes his head. I was 26 when I finally met my husband, 27 when we got engaged and then married. I'm glad that I learned to wait for God's plan instead of my own! This is a lesson that I'm still trying to master. Perhaps I'll finally get it figured out completely.


  11. Sad to say, most of my dreams are the kind that you hope DON'T come true. I often dream though that I am talking to my mother who has been gone for 10 years ... that one will come true some day!


  12. Sad to say, I don't think I have had any of my dreams come true. My life always seemed to go off in a totally different direction just before I attain a dream.

    avidreader at middleswarth dot net

  13. I'm sooo excited for you Melanie and the release of your book! Dreaming is a favorite pastime of mine. ;) Actually, writing a book was always a dream of mine, which I did 2 years ago. Now I am learning to edit (and whine about editing!) and daydreaming about new stories I want to write!

    Yay for dreams and them coming true!


  14. I have to say my dream come true was the day my son came home from the NICU. He had been there
    3 1/2 months and there was times we didn't know if he would make it. His homecoming day was truly a dream come true, thanks to tons of prayers! :)
    bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com

  15. My dream come true was when my daughter came home from the hospital healthy. We had a lot of trouble from conception and throughout the pregnancy so she is our little miracle baby.


  16. My dream come true was marrying my husband. Having been a victim of abuse as a child I was always wary about choosing the wrong man to marry. I wanted to break the cycle and was afraid I would not be able to. It was through much prayer and God's healing that I was able to get beyond my fear and meet the man God had for me. We have been married ten years now, have two beautiful children, and are living our happily ever after. Dreams do come true.


  17. Thank you for the great interview! I am so looking forward to reading this book. My dream come true is still coming, actually. I decided to go finish my bachelors degree a few months ago, and currently I am taking online classes that work around my work schedule and regular life. Hopefully, I will be done sometime next fall, but only with the encouragement of my family and friends and God's grace! : )

  18. What a beautiful boook cover. I would love to see the inside.
    My dreams, by the way, never end. but not too many of them come true.
    Betty Fimple
    Windsor, CA

  19. Praying for all the God-ordained dreams of all of you to come true!!! If God has put a dream in your heart, he has the power to see it come true, so keep praying and growing and trying to learn all God wants to teach you through everything in this life you go through, both good and bad!

  20. Ditto to the first post about "The Healer's Apprentice" --I was "blog hopping" --you know, following the links from blog to blog-- when I saw the cover of the book and after reading the summary . . . I've always loved the medieval time period --knights, castles, swords, princesses, the ballgowns and fashion of the time, etc. so that, plus it's teen Christian fiction? I'm there!

    Well, a small dream of mine that came true was to go to a civics camp 3,000 miles away from where I live . . . and it was amazing to see how God worked to provide the money/funds to pay for it . . . I was totally floored and appreciative and reminded of God's faithfulness to someone so undeserving as I. =)


  21. Hmm . . . I can't think of any "dreams" that have come true for me off the top of my head, but . . . well, like several people mentioned, I'd love to get married and have a family some day. =)

    Thank you for the opportunity to win this book!


  22. I loved reading this interview as I can't wait to read this book. YA historical is my favourite genre and I'ma young Christian too so its perfect for me.

    My 'dream come true' is having a story published, I won a young writer's short story competition and it was published in an anthology.

    Thanks for the chance to win this book!