Please welcome Melanie Dickerson!
Melanie Dickerson is a two-time Christy Award finalist and Carol Award-winning author of The Healer’s Apprentice, The Merchant’s Daughter, and The Fairest Beauty. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). A former teacher and missionary, she earned a degree in special education from The University of Alabama and now lives near Huntsville, Alabama with her husband and two daughters.
You can find out more about Melanie and her books on her website: www.MelanieDickerson.com
Melanie is with us today to talk about her writing, particularly her new release, The Captive Maiden. And do be certain to check out the end of the interview, because she's offering a giveaway!
Hi Melanie! Welcome to the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog. First off, why don't you tell us a littel about yourself! Personality, hobbies, etc.
Melanie: I used to have hobbies, before I started writing! I do love watching movies with my two daughters. I love doing Beth Moore Bible studies with the ladies at my church. And I’m a facebook junkie, chatting and checking up on my friends when I should be working or cleaning my messy house!
What led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller?
Melanie: I loved writing from the time I was probably around 11 years old. I think it started as a passion for reading stories and just gradually turned into a passion for writing them. I stopped writing after I graduated high school and took about a 15-year hiatus before I started back.
Tell us a little about your new novel, The Captive Maiden. How long did you work on this story? How did the idea come to you? Is it connected to the other fairy tale retellings you’ve written?
Melanie: The Captive Maiden is the story of Valten, who is the brother of Gabe, the hero from The Fairest Beauty, and the son of Rose and Wilhelm from The Healer’s Apprentice. This story was written in less time than any of my other stories. The bulk of it was written in a month and a half. I knew I wanted to write Valten’s story, and I thought it would be a great Cinderella story, and I got the idea to make it about tournament rivals, because Valten loved competing in tournaments. And tournaments and knights just naturally make me think of one of my favorite novels, Ivanhoe, which inspired one of my favorite scenes in The Captive Maiden.
Can you pick a favorite character from this story?
Melanie: I loved my heroine, Gisela, because she was spunky and sweet, but I have to say that Valten was my favorite character. He was the hardest to write, because he is the tough, silent type, but he turned out sweeter and more attractive than I had thought.
What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration?
Of course, I am inspired by fairy tales, and I am inspired by classic literature, as I mentioned above. When I need renewal of inspiration, I sometimes watch movies, especially movies based on classic novels. I also listen to music, types of music and lyrics that make me think and feel more deeply. It’s good to take a break from the computer and writing when one needs a renewal, I think.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
Melanie: I think I am rare in that I love all the parts of the writing process. I love the first draft stage, the editing and revising stage, and the research stage. I probably get tired of the research stage the most quickly, and the first draft stage is the most difficult, because it is always terrifying, especially when I’m writing the first few chapters! I’m afraid it’s terrible!
Since you write fairy tale retellings, I’m sure this will be a tough question . . . but if you had to pick, what is your favorite fairy tale?
Melanie: My favorite is actually Beauty and the Beast. There is so much meaning and so many possibilities for that story! There's something about it that has always fascinated me.
So what is next on your writerly horizons? Can we look forward to more fairy tale retellings? Or perhaps something completely new?
Melanie: I have a couple of completely new projects in the works, but everything is historical romance, just different time periods and settings. But I also have another fairy tale. I’m writing a Frog Prince story, and the heroine is Margaretha, Gabe and Valten’s sister.
What are you actively writing right now?
Melanie: I have two books that I am halfway through the rough draft. One is a Regency romance, and the other is my Frog Prince story. But I am currently planning on completely rewriting a couple of other books. So I feel like I have four projects going at once! My job at the moment is to decide which one I’m going to concentrate on, starting next week! But I can never bear to leave a project unfinished for long, so you can bet that I will be working very hard until all four of them are polished and ready for my readers!
Can you share a short snippet from The Captive Maiden?
Melanie: Sure! This scene is when Valten first sees Gisela in the streets of Hagenheim. He doesn’t remember that he met her when they were both children. But she remembers him.
The Captive Maiden
When Valten turned around, the girl was staring at him.
No wonder Ruexner had noticed her. Her eyes were a clear blue, without a hint of gray or green. Her features were bold and generous—long, thick eyelashes, a straight, proud nose, a full brow, a gently squared chin, and high, prominent cheekbones. Her skin fairly glowed, and he had to remind himself to breathe.
She seemed to be studying his face too. “Thank you.” She abruptly turned away and continued on her way as if nothing had happened.
He stood stunned. Should he call after her? He only knew he couldn’t let her walk away, so he followed her.
As she turned down the narrow street to the blacksmith’s, she looked over her shoulder. “Do you want something, my lord?” She added the last phrase with a bit of slyness in her voice, it seemed. She must realize who he was.
Never good at making conversation with maidens, he ransacked his brain for something appropriate to say. Another way Gabe had been better than him—talking with women. His brother always knew what to say, and it was always something charming or clever. Valten’s experience was much different. He’d had little time for women due to his travels and training, and most of the ones he’d met he’d only spoken to briefly. Their fathers had paraded them before him at balls given for the tournament knights, but he’d never known them long enough to feel comfortable. He had not been ready to marry, and therefore he had no interest in showing them how lacking he was in the art of conversation.
He hoped he didn’t sound like Ruexner as he said, “A fine destrier you have. He looks very much like my horse, Sieger.”
She turned and gave him her full attention. He marveled at her self-reliant expression, a unique trait in a woman, especially one who was less than twenty years old and obviously poor. Or maybe she was only eccentric, wearing ragged clothes to disguise herself, as he was doing.
“Thank you. He is a great horse.” Then she turned and continued walking.
He still wasn’t ready to let her go.
Thank you so much for sharing, Melanie. It was lovely to have you on the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog today.
And now, dear imps, you have a chance to win yourselves a copy of The Captive Maiden! Be certain to enter your name below.
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