Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Interview With Melanie Dickerson

Melanie Dickerson is one of my most favorite authors. Not only do I love her books but she's an inspiration to me in my writing. Here's an interview with the writer behind the books...

What made you decide to become an author?

I always loved to write stories and poems, almost as far back as I can remember, but I stopped writing when I started college. I started writing again when my children were preschool age, at first because I was trying to think of how I could work and make money and still be able to be home with my kids. As soon as I started writing again, I was hooked and I knew it was what I wanted to do, and what I was meant to do.

Is there someone whose writing inspired you to write?

I was inspired most, I think, by Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell. When I was a kid dreaming of being a published novelist, I thought a lot about Harper Lee, who grew up about 40 miles from where I grew up. She made my dream seem possible, since she was also from a middle-of-nowhere kind of place in the poor rural South. And Margaret Mitchell inspired me also because she wrote about the South, and Gone With the Wind was just so wildly entertaining. I wanted to entertain people like that too.

Out of all the female characters in your books which one is your favorite?

That is a really hard question. I really don’t think I can pick a favorite. I identify with all my heroines, and they all embody traits from my own personality and reactions that I’ve had in the past, so it’s almost like asking me which part of myself is my favorite!

Out of all the male characters in your books which one is your favorite?

This one is not much easier. Ha! I really like my tortured heroes, though, like Ranulf from The Merchant’s Daughter and Sir Gerek from The Golden Braid, which comes out in November. They are all pretty appealing. Handsome, noble hearted, some of them are romantic and the others are just hopelessly in love. And they all have a strong love for God. What’s not to like?

Why did you decide to retell fairy tales?

I’ve always loved fairy tales, and I love Medieval history, so it’s almost as if I was meant to retell fairy tales. But I never actually sat down and said, Oh, I think I’ll be an author who writes fairy tale retellings. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I got the idea to write The Healer’s Apprentice when I was watching Sleeping Beauty with my daughters. Of course, I’d already seen it many times, but for some reason I started thinking about how unrealistic it was that the prince would fall in love with a peasant girl after only seeing her once in the forest, even though he was betrothed to someone else. I started thinking how to make it realistic, how to flesh out the plot and the characters in a way that was historically accurate, as it might have actually happened. It seemed like a fun challenge, so I started writing. Then I started thinking how fun it would be to write a whole series of books based on popular fairy tales. And that’s how it happened.

What are two things that people might be surprised to know about you?

I won an award at my community college for being the outstanding sign language student one year, and I beat up a boy in my kindergarten class once because he jumped on my back.

What's your favorite books & favorite movie?

Another tough question. I have so many favorites. My favorite book is the Bible, which I have lost count of how many times I have read. I guess my favorite novel is Pride and Prejudice. Jane Eyre is probably my second favorite. As for favorite movie, again, it’s Pride and Prejudice, the long version with Colin Firth, who is just such a wonderful Mr. Darcy. I also love a lot of other movies based on Jane Austen’s books—Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey. And I love Penelope. If you haven’t seen that movie, you should, because it’s a great twist on Beauty and the Beast!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was six, I wanted to be a ballerina. For a while after that, I wanted to be a reporter, and in high school I wanted to be a novelist and a missionary. But I went to college to teach deaf and hard of hearing kids instead. So I was a teacher for a while, then I quit to be a missionary. Then I got married and finally ended up being a novelist. But the ballerina thing . . . ain’t gonna happen.

What three adjectives would your family/friends use to describe you?

Hmm . . . I think my family and friends would say that I am loving and affectionate; my husband and kids would say I am uptight, especially when it comes to technology problems; and thirdly, easy-going my daughter says, “but only sometimes.”

How does your faith influence your books?

I really don’t know how to write a book in which the characters change and grow without God. My faith is such a big part of my daily life and my thoughts, and I write my main characters that way. I am also writing a Regency series, and God and faith seemed to be much more in the background of people’s lives in Regency times. But it’s still hard to think about showing change in a character’s life without faith. Just as in Medieval times, in Regency England, nearly everyone went to church and at least believed in God and heaven and hell. I guess the bottom line is, I like exploring spiritual issues, and that’s what I do in my novels. It feels very natural to me.

What's the next book you're writing?

I have just been doing edits on my Rapunzel story, The Golden Braid, and I’ve been writing the second book in my new series. It’s tentatively called The Margrave of Thornbeck Castle and is kind of a cross between Princess and the Pea and Beauty and Beast. Can’t wait for everyone to read it! I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Thanks so much Melanie Dickerson! Looking forward to reading your next books.
-Hope you all will read her books if you haven't already!-



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