Today I have the lovely Melanie Dickerson over to visit. This interview was supposed to be up months ago but I have only got around to posting it now due to multiple computer viruses and the fact that my personal life became insanely busy for a while, but hopefully is now calming down. (fingers crossed) Anyway, here it is better late than never. :)
Hello! Welcome to Songs and Stories! Thank you so much for volunteering to answer a few of my questions. I loved both The Healer's Apprentice and The Merchant's Daughter. :)
Do you think you could tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I am a wife and mom of two daughters living near Huntsville, Alabama. I have a bachelor’s degree in special education of the hearing impaired. I’ve taught in Georgia and Tennessee, and taught English in Germany for one summer, and in Ukraine for one year, so I’ve had a few adventures. Now I like staying home and creating adventures rather than living them!
What is it about writing that you most enjoy?
I enjoy creating stories and characters. I believe it’s really therapeutic—if someone makes you mad, you can always pattern your next villain after them. Not that I would ever do that. Ah-hem. But it is an exercise in psychology to try and figure out the different personalities and motivations of your characters, to figure out what they would say in a certain situation, what they would do or think or feel. I enjoy figuring out the best way for a story to end and then making it happen in a believable way.
I love Annabel. She is physically weak but has so much strength in other ways. What was the hardest part of her to write?
Annabel does have weaknesses, and it’s the weaknesses that were hard to write. It’s easy to write a heroine who is feisty and strong-willed and never gets discouraged. But it’s emotionally draining to write about someone who is afraid and whose fears nearly paralyze her. That was my experience in writing Annabel.
How did you become a published author? What or who helped you most when you were trying to get published?
Well, learning to write a publishable book, and getting it published, was a long process, much like going to college and getting a degree and then getting a job. No one’s going to guarantee that it will happen at all, and no one can help you learn it all. You really have to study and work hard, and then pray that things will work out somehow for you to get that first contract. I joined a writers’ organization, ACFW, which helped me learn a lot. I took writing courses online, I read books on the craft of writing, I entered contests, I attended writers conferences, I joined critique groups, and I wrote. By the time I found a publisher willing to publish my book, I had written four books. The Healer’s Apprentice was the second book I wrote, and The Merchant’s Daughter was the third. What helped me the most? It was a combination of all those things, but being a Christian writer, I believe perseverance and prayer made the most difference. And God working things out.
Do you ever get writer's block? If so, how do you get past it?
The only time I got really major writer’s block was when I was writing The Merchant’s Daughter. It was a really emotionally draining story for me to write, and when I was half finished with it, I decided to put it aside and write something more light hearted. But when I started that book, I got terrible writer’s block. I finally decided it was because I was supposed to finish The Merchant’s Daughter first. So stopped writing the other book and finished The Merchant’s Daughter. I finished the other book, but it still hasn’t found a publisher. So maybe writer’s block isn’t always so bad. J
How much research did you have to do for The Merchant's Daughter? Did you have less work to do because you had already researched for The Healer's Apprentice?
No, The Merchant’s Daughter required a ton of research because I set it in England, and The Healer’s Apprentice was set in Germany. So I basically had to start all over in my research. It was also my most difficult book to research because I had to do so much research on the justice system of the time. That was very tedious, but interesting too.
Can you give us a little teaser from or about your upcoming novel?
Coming soon is a Snow White story involving Rose and Wilhelm’s (from The Healer’s Apprentice) second son, Gabe. He learns that his older brother’s betrothed is actually still alive and being persecuted by her evil stepmother. Since his older brother has a broken leg and can’t go rescue her, Gabe goes himself, against his father’s and brother’s wishes. Gabe and his brother’s betrothed, Sophie, escape from the evil duchess, but they have to battle her hired henchman, wild animals, and their own attraction for each other as they ride toward the Cottage of the Seven, the mysterious house where they’ve been told they will find safety.
(Oh! That is so cool! I can't wait to meet Rose and Wilhelm's son!)
Who is your favorite author of fairytales? Brothers Grimm? Hans Christian Anderson? Charles Perrault? Or someone else?
Hmm, you know, in their original state, most fairy tales are pretty grim and not very romantic. Have you ever read the original version of Sleeping Beauty? The Little Mermaid? Snow White? To be honest, I kind of prefer the Disney versions—and my own, of course! ;-)
(I have read the original Sleeping Beauty and it was quite gruesome. I always liked the Disney Little Mermaid better than the tragic Anderson version.)
Velvet or silk? (I just love the dresses on the covers.)
Since I grew up in a very warm Southern climate, I will go with silk. (I love those dresses too! Can hardly wait to see my next cover!)
Night owl or early bird?
I’m definitely not a night owl, and my family won’t let me get away with saying I’m an early bird. Really, I’m more of a mid-afternoon person.
Coffee or tea?
Definitely tea. I never developed a taste for coffee, but I love all kinds of tea.
Thank you again for coming! It was lovely having you here and I can't wait to read your next book! :)
You can read my review of The Healer's Apprentice.
Keep an eye out for my review of The Merchant's Daughter!